Julie BennettInterview by Angela Corrias

I left Dulwich-born Julie Bennett’s studio with the feeling that every dream can come true: I don’t know if it’s just because her’s actually did, or because of her overwhelming and contagious enthusiasm. With her hair up, jeans and t-shirt studded with colourful paint, Julie is the queen of her small and cosy studio.The walls are decorated with some of her favourite paintings, two self-portaits, one of herself as the Mona Lisa.

Women’s eyes, hair, problems, judgements, any kind of feeling, … but always concerning and representing women. The question was mandatory: “Do you always paint women? They look sad, they look like they have problems.” Seemingly, it was what she had been waiting for: “Do you think so? Look at them carefully: they are androgynous characters. Mainly they are women that look like men, I’m interested in the cross-over between identitites. I like painting myself - I have a few self portraits - or my friends, but I normally get my inspiration by trawling through the neverending resources that magazines can offer and I paint everything inspires me, everything that interests me, mainly indefinite features, meaningful and indefinite.”

Allowing the colours to drip loosely, Julie’s objective is capturing the identity of her characters, or more precisely the troubles they have with their identities. “I’m just not interested in landscapes”, she says very spontaneously, “I’m interested in questioning what the role of painting is now, I want the women I paint to be more than passive and merely decorative objects. I want my characters to be very confident and be able to establish an eye contact if you look at them”. In fact, Julie’s women want to show their personality, be it the identity crisis of the “Girl That Thinks She Is A Boy” or the life in “Two Girls”. “That’s why I’m interested in magazines, they are people focused. I really love people, I love interacting with people. The other day I met somebody that used to teach me, in a nursery, when I was three years old and she asked me:‘Do you still love the world?’”Julie Bennett 2

Influenced by artists such as Michael Andrews, Lucian Freud, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Saville, Julie is fascinated by people’s faces and inspired by religious iconography, popular culture, graffiti, tattoos. Despite her success - she has been labelled one of Saatchi’s new stars by The Independent in November 2006 - Julie started painting relatively recently, beginning only two years ago. After completing an eight-week summer school in painting in UCL Slade School of Fine Art in 2006 and a HNC BTEC in Fine Art at Kensington and Chelsea College in 2007, she is now studying at Chelsea College of Art and Design. “I have worked in graphic design for ten years, for famous magazines such as Q, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, and I realized that I was using my hand only to move the mouse. When I felt I had achieved everything I wanted to achieve from a career in graphic design, I thought I needed to do something new, and what did I do? I enrolled in a course to play guitar: I was absolutely awful! It was a struggle to play, I couldn’t even see myself writing music. I’ve played guitar for two years, it was just dreadful! Then I enrolled in a painting course and that was an epiphany, it really changed my life. I started for fun and I’m so excited by the turn my life is taking”.

http://www.juliebennett.co.uk/ Julie works in William Angel Studios, Peckham, with two sculptors, a photographer and an interior designer; their next group show is in April 2008. Meanwhile, her paintings will also be exhibited from March at the Sassoon Gallery, in Peckham, London SE15 and The Saatchi Online Gallery are representing two of her paintings at FORM London art fair.

Posted: 2009-03-13 11:46:00