One look at Anna Rootes is all you need to tell she’s an artist. It’s not just the remnants of paint on her hands, and sometimes clothes; it’s everything. The mish mash of rings adorning her fingers, the long, bright blonde hair with black streaks peaking beneath, the flashes of tattoos, brightly coloured clothes, and 9 times out of 10 the lashings of leopard print!
This is the first inkling you get into the kind of work she produces. And her bedroom is another clue – every surface is crammed with studded skulls, fake birds, bursting moleskin notebooks, sculptures, religious iconography (the Hindu god Ganesh is a particular favourite), trinkets, and yet more leopard print. As she explains it, ‘I know what I like and if I like it, it goes up. I have to be surrounded by colour.’
Her work is not quite as OTT but it is BOLD, and it is BEAUTIFUL.
She works in any material she can find. Household paint scrapped onto canvas using a palette knife, photo transfer, oil, acrylic, sequins, glitter, gold leaf, and illustration. All her pieces hero the hand of the artist; this is about as far away from photorealism as you can get. As she puts it, this is what gives the pieces ‘energy, spontaneity, and personality; it’s what makes them truly unique. Five artists can paint the same scene but it’s when they put their own spin on it, add their own style that makes it really special.’
Anna’s interested in the relationship between art and wellbeing (her ultimate goal is to be an art therapist), and believes her subconscious is a big driver of the type of work she creates. When pushed on where she gets her inspiration she can’t tell me. ‘I just know what I’m going to paint but I couldn’t tell you why. It’s instinct, it’s my subconscious. My work is a direct reaction to my life.’
Anna exhibits ‘Venture Far’ at Kaizo from Fri 3 May – Sat 4 June. It’s a collection of energetic statement pieces in bright hues, a hyper-real world full of beautiful exotic animals. But don’t worry there’s no leopard print in sight!
This is her 2nd solo art exhibition and with never having had any formal art training she already has an impressive portfolio – 2 Olympic commissions, lots of group shows – local and places like Manchester and Birmingham – murals (from the stunning peacock in Stoke Newington’s Coffee Bean to a school wall covered in a montage of fairytales), lots of community art projects, and private commissions.
If you’re still not convinced check out some more of her work here.
See you at the preview on Friday 3 May, 7pm onwards.
Words Robyn Walker