Charles Avery

Charles Avery was born in 1973 in Oban, and lives and works in London. Avery studied a foundation course at Chelsea College of Art in London, but he is largely self-taught as an artist. Avery has become internationally famous for the extensive drawings, paintings and writings about his imaginary island he has invented. His work is highly detailed both in the artistic work produced and the writings behind it. It is important to note the imaginary island is not necessarily a utopian society, there is a bustling city, financial and economic issues, belief systems and cultures. This entirely imagined world allows Avery to explore debates on philosophy, literature and mathematics. The viewer can relate and identify with issues explored in the work, and even momentarily become one of the islanders.

Untitled (Design for Jadindagadendar), 2014, Pencil, ink, acrylic and gouache on paper, 233.3 x 330 cm

As I explored Avery’s extensive collection of works I was drawn to the above image in particular, which for me appears to be this plentiful tree with ripe hanging fruit with a myriad of different scenes below – a couple in an embrace, children climbing, someone relaxing with a book, dogs sniffing the ground. I’d really like to see this work in person to appreciate the intricacies and attention to detail up close.

Untitled (Pool Study), 2014, Pencil, ink, acrylic and gouache on paper, 171 x 125 cm 180 x 138 cm framed

In this second example I have chosen, there is a familiar theme around a central object, this being pool, although it doesn’t appear to be filled with water but instead snakes. We again see a selection of the imagined island’s society going about their day, and what appears to be a candelabra in the background very reminiscent of the shape of the plentiful tree in the previous example.

For my response to Avery’s work I decided to used mixed media to recreate the same scene in “Untitled (Design for Jadindagadendar)”. I used watercolour to create the sky or background and blue pen to create the detailed ground, along with an acrylic black pen to build the tree, and acrylic paint to produce the ripened bulbous fruits. Then I decided to experiment with some work I had undertaken following my assignment A Circular Painting. I asked a friend to take some photographs of me where I was pretending to be asleep and the various forms and positions I might take. I decided to create monotype prints of these in a similar way to another assignment I produced for Monotype Portraits

I applied the monotype prints in quite a haphazard way but also sometimes quite purposefully, it’s really quite fun to look at how these originally ‘sleeping’ bodies have been transformed. At the top left one looks like it is launching out to space, in the top right a body in the fetal position almost looks cocooned in a womb shape caused by the tree. In the foreground some of the bodies appear to be swimming, diving or floating on the surface, and in the middle trying to reach for the fruit. I’m really pleased with the outcome of this and ironically I feel I myself too have inadvertently become one of Avery’s islanders!

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