United by a mutual love of creating strange monsters with unsettlingly toothy grins, Portsmouth artists Ooberla (Angie) and Stu Linfield are collaborating on a new exhibition at Play Dead on Highland Road, titled Other Things.
The opening night is at Play Dead on Saturday 18th February, from 7:00pm through 9:00pm. After launching, the show will run for four weeks.
I asked Angie and Stu a few questions about their exciting new show, what it’s all about, and what it was like to collaborate on something new.
Introduce yourself as artists. You’re both known for drawing strange little creatures — how did you get started with that style?
Angie: I used to make monsters out of Plasticine at my desk at work. People seemed to like it and asked me to make one for them. Now I use Super Sculpey to make bigger monsters. I have always loved films like Little Shop of Horrors and John Carpenter’s The Thing, and like to imagine what it would be like if the world was overrun with Triffids.
Stu: I’m an illustrator and I have recently started a screen printing and embroidery business, Sea Dog Print Studio. I like drawing monsters as I’m a big fan of horror films, comics, and video games.
How did you two come to be collaborating on the Other Things exhibition?
Angie: I love Stu’s style and have done for a few years. He once drew something and shared it on Twitter. I loved it, so I went home and sculpted it, then accused him of ripping off my idea! We did a few bits of art together, and it really worked. He inspires me to make stuff and I love giving him ideas and seeing them become beautiful, weird illustrations.
Stu: I think we share a mutual appreciation of one another’s work. We’ll often riff off of each other. Angie might suggest I draw something that I wouldn’t have even attempted on my own. She’ll put something together from a sketch I’ve made and I’ll be blown away by seeing it rendered as a sculpture. I think my main motivation to draw something now is to try and get Angie to make it into something amazing.
Tell me a little bit about the exhibition — what kind of work will you be showcasing, what’s the theme, and is there any narrative?
Angie: We had a few ideas that we really wanted to go with, big grand stories of an expedition into another dimension, religious relics from alien civilisations, but we found it a little too restrictive. We found our common ground and went with the general theme of monsters.
Stu: Visually and conceptually, certain pieces in the show are definitely linked, but we scrapped the idea for a complicated lore behind everything in order to concentrate on the quality of the work. I think everything ties in together as we’ve both had a hand in each piece featured.
Play Dead is one of Southsea’s newest gallery spaces. How did you come to be exhibiting there, and what do you love about the venue?
Angie: We were both asked separately to take part in some great group exhibitions like the 33RPM Pie & Vinyl Show, and I had a few sculpts in the opening night show. Samo — Play Dead’s owner — mentioned an exhibition, and we jumped at the chance. It’s such a great place for the art community, and it’s so great to see kids getting enthusiastic about the workshops and the shows, saving up pocket money to get their own piece of art. Plus the opening nights are so much fun.
Stu: It was great to be asked to exhibit — we’ve tried to regularly attend the opening nights as each show has been something really interesting and unique. Taking part in the 33RPM show encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone by trying sculpture, and was really happy with the result. Whatever they put on seems to draw a diverse crowd.
Have there been any fresh challenges in curating this exhibition, and any new artistic processes? I notice you’ve got resin monsters as part of the show’s merch — was creating them a new venture for you?
Angie: We’ve definitely learned some new stuff for the exhibition. We had some ideas that could only be done with resin, so we did a whole bunch of YouTube research (plus a workshop with resin master Czee) and we took a leap. It’s been a real learning curve, but so much fun.
Stu: I can’t remember doing anything 3D since college, so it’s been so much fun getting to have a go at that. It was a revelation that we could make copies of our work without losing detail. There’s been challenging moments as we’ve experimented with the resin but it’s a great medium.