By Rob Goldstone
It’s not every day you come across paintings in which oils and acrylics are used alongside everyday household items like dust, ash and sometimes even spit – spit from the artist herself. But then it’s not every day you come across art by the talented and unique Marika Gleave.
This Southport-born painter grew up in the seaside town, but spent much of her early years with grandparents in Oldham. Both locations influenced not just her life, but also her work – which often combine the tough Oldham grind of dust and ash with the more ethereal hues of Southport.
She says her strong and often emotionally charged work is strongly influenced by the unique style of artists she admires like Peter Doig and Antonio Tapies.
She is also a huge fan of the minimalism of historical Japanese art – which can be seen in some of her small painted squares,
Nothing it seems is off limits when it comes to texture and use of everyday objects for Marika, who chose to paint on Kraft cheese slice wrappers for a series of works which formed part of her MA in Fine Art degree exhibition.
Her current work involves working with ink, ash and charcoal – hard edged gestures used autonomously on board, paper, walls, dust sheets to form images that represent marks and abstract beings inspired by history and existence.
“I love mixing textures and mediums and much of my work these days contains everyday household items like dust and ash, but occasionally I take it a bit further. A few pieces of my art actually contain my own spit. When I’m engrossed in my work I can’t move away from it – it’s a bit like watching a movie and you can’t break away from it. If I haven’t got water to hand to apply the materials I will sometimes use spit on my hands,” she says.
When asked to define her work in a single phrase, Marika sums it up in just three words: “real and unreal”. She explains that her distinctive abstract-like art sometimes defies definition.
“I paint when I am inspired, and that inspiration can come in all different shapes and forms. One time I will decide I need to paint on used cheese slice wrappers, and the next I am inspired to create Japanese influenced miniatures,” says the Churchtown resident.
When she is not working on her own paintings, Marika works as an art teacher for autistic children and young adults at a local Southport school. She loves her work and her colleagues, and they love her – and her work.
“When I first started displaying and selling my artwork, it was my colleagues at the school who started buying and collecting pieces, and that is such a great feeling.”
Marika is hoping to curate an exhibition of her artwork and display in Southport, Liverpool and Manchester in the coming year, and in the meantime is working on some new pieces.