Dolly ThompsettBorn in London, where she continues to live and work, Dolly Thompsett trained at the Byam Shaw School of Art (2000-2001) and Goldsmiths College (2002-2006).
Since graduating, with a PhD in fine art, she has had many solo shows, particularly with prestigious London galleries, most recently, Art First. She has featured in many group exhibitions in the UK, Europe and the US and was a finalist in the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2008 and winner of The Artsway Prize in 2009.
Thompsett's work is rooted in an intensely absorbed activity of image making. There is a sensuous concern to animate and transform the surface; to make it emotionally and intellectually evocative. Densely packed and layered narratives mix all kinds of personal and art historical references into a lather of associations and resonances.
We see paintings that show a world of dream and fantastic reverie, some like the crowded, hallucinogenic topographies of Richard Dadd, others alluding to the haunted monuments of Piranesi, others still, present us with a lush landscape of rococo vegetation containing fleshy animal or human incident: bits of Boucher and Gainsborough break the surface and tease us with their associations. The artist’s appetite for material sets up a slipstream into which all kinds of such references are dragged, assimilated and processed.
Stylistically Thompsett's pictures deploy skilful draughtsmanship and an elegant, highly wrought handling of paint. Images of birds and animals inhabit a vegetative world of nests and florid tendrils, which has sometimes overrun an architectural ruin or landscape. The sumptuous surface is layered and enriched with decorative embellishment.
It is important to locate her work in a tradition of a specifically English sensibility, a pre-Freudian personal vocabulary of significant ciphers, characters and eccentric actors. Thompsett's paintings evoke Arthur Rackham’s illustrations, Lewis Carroll’s startling inventions, the obsessively forensic, botanical studies of Maria Sibylla Merian; the weird and wonderful characters of a Victorian opium-induced reverie. At the core of a whirlpool of associations and references lies this interest, a way of accessing and mediating the artist’s dreaming, a way of externalising the internal.
Thompsett's pictures arise out of the hermetic dream space of the artist’s studio, where she processes what she calls ‘the perculiar, the particular and the personal’. This is a space with metaphorically steamed up windows, a hothouse of activity. We could see her as a kind of Alice, continually asking questions, as she travels through her fantastically conjured and imagined landscapes.
cv / exhibition history / awards· Born in London.
2002- 2006 Goldsmiths’ College - Practice-based PhD Fine Art
2000-2001 Byam Shaw School of Art - MA Fine Art
1993 - 1994 Goldsmiths’ College - PGCE (Secondary, Art & Design)
1992 Hilderstone Collge - RSA (Cert) in TEFL
1989-1992 Manchester Metropolitan University - BA (hons) Illustration
Solo and Two person Exhibitions
· Art First, London
· The Secret Life and Other Stories, Art First Projects, London
· Haruko Maeda, Dolly Thompsett, All Visual Arts, London
· Vigo Gallery, London
· ArtSway, Hampshire
· Ritter/Zamet, London
· Fred [London] Gallery
· Ritter/Zamet, London
· Drawing at the Workers Café, Dalson, London. Curated by Carolina Ambida
· Selected from the Ingram Collection, The Lightbox, Woking
· Artist Portfolio, Dolly Thompsett ‘Drawing from the quiet Side, Transition Gallery
· Fleurs du Mal with Neal Rock, Emma Bennett, Bernhard Martin, Michael Boffey. Lion and Lamb, London touring to Charlie Smith Gallery, London
· Mr and Mrs Andrews, Transition Gallery, London
· Platform Projects, Athens
· The Future Can Wait, Charlie Smith/Saatchi Gallery, Bloomsbury Square, London
· This Landscape, Majors Parlour Gallery, London
· Viewing Room, with G.L. Brierley, Jason Brooks, Jake & Dinos Chapman, John Isaacs, Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan, John Stezaker, Tim Noble & Sue Webster and others. All Visual Arts, London
· Art Britannia Miami, curated by Ben Austin, with Gordon Cheung, James Capper, Henry Acloque, Dolly Thompsett. Miami.
· Wunderlust, Contemporary Arts Society, London
· It’s About Time, Curated by Paul Carey-Kent, ASC Gallery, London
· The Collection, The House of St Barnabus, London
· Metamorphosis, curated by Wolfgang Schoppmann (the Thomas Olbricht Foundation) and Joe La Placa, The Crypt, London
· London 12, curated by Toby Clarke with Fiona Rae, Marcus Harvey, Dan Coombes, Paul Housley, Neal Tait, City Museum and Art Gallery Prague
· The Seven Lamps, Lobomirov-Easton, London
· Hallogallo, Stuart Cumberland, Sean Dawson, Michael Stubbs, Dolly Thompsett, Vicky Wright. London Metropolitan University Gallery, London
· Dolly Thompsett, Alicia Magolis, Dee Ferris, Anna Genger Matthew Bown Gallerie, Berlin
· From the Mountains where Whales Once Lived: Dolly Thompsett, Eemyun Kang, Seuljin Wang, Alisa Margolis, UNION, London
· Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures, AVA, London
· Creekside, APT Gallery, London
· ArtSway, Hampshire
· The Golden Record, The Collection, Lincolnshire
· Jerwood Drawing Prize, Jerwood Space, London (touring)
· Cromophilia, curated by Pernille Holm-Mercer, Bearspace, London
· Lucifer’s Greatest Art Show: Jake and Dinos Chapman, Christoph Draeger, Neil Hamon, Cathy de Monchaux, Dolly Thompsett, Fred Leipzig Gallery, Leipzig
· Super-cilia, Royal Liver Building, Liverpool
· The Golden Record, Collective Gallery, Liverpool
· Emergency3, Aspex, Portsmouth. Selected by Paul Hedges and Jo Bushnell
· Drifting Clouds, Image Furini Arte Contemporanea, Arezzo. Curated by Rita Selvaggio
· Salon Nouveau, Engholm Englehorn, Vienna. Curated by Jasper Sharpe
· The Wonderful Fund Collection on Tour, Pallant House, Chichester
· Sweetex, Standpoint, London. Curated by Pernille Holm Mercer
· When I lived in Modern Times, Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland
· Morpho Eugenia, Museo di Republica Di San Marino, Italy
· The Wonderful Fund Collection on Tour, Le Musee de Marrakech, Morocco
· Arrivals, The Pump House, London
· Caution: Uneven Surfaces, temporarycontemporary, London
· Goldsmiths MA Show, London
· Fantastic! Catacombs Gallery, St Pancras Church, London
Corporate Collections and Foundations
· Goldsmiths’ College Collection
· Neuberger Berman Inc
· Ernst & Young
· Wonderful Fund
· Simmons & Simmons
· Teseco Foundation
· Zabludowitz Collection
· John Jones
· Contemporary Arts Society
· The House of Saint Barnabus
Awards and Competitions
2009 Winner First Prize, Artsway 2009
2009 Finalist, Creekside, APT Gallery
2008 Finalist, Jerwood Drawing Prize (touring)
2007 Finalist, Emergency3, Aspex Portsmouth
2005 Full Bursary, Goldsmiths College.
2004 Goldsmiths Warden’s Purchase Prize