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BOBBYE FERMIE

16 ONE ACT PLAYS

16 MAY - 5 JUNE 2024

OPENING RECEPTION WED 15 MAY

6.30-8.30PM

16 ONE ACT PLAYS | BOBBYE FERMIE

16th MAY - 5th JUNE 2024 

Opening reception Wednesday 15th May 6.30-8.30pm

“All the world’s a stage…” If our whole lives are performances, what happens when we get stage fright? In her solo show16 One Act Plays, Bobbye Fermie presents an enigmatic series of quietly theatrical paintings, in which anxieties rub up against feelings of safety and notions of public performance are held in tension with introspection. 

Fermie’s work is inspired in part by Victorian toy theatres, in which cut-outs of architectural features, furniture, and people are slotted into place one after another to create scenographic depth, framed by theatrical curtains. Working across watercolour, drawing, and acrylic on canvas, Fermie deploys a similar process of cutting out and collaging, overlaying spatial backgrounds with silhouetted figures as well as patterns drawn from botanical and domestic imagery. 

This body of work is deeply concerned with the relationship between public and private. Figures are overlaid with perforated shapes that both reveal and conceal; a lace curtain, for example, or a grid of flowers inspired by an antique air vent. Fermie repeatedly asks the viewer to consider the relationship between the figure and their surroundings; are they choosing to hide, or are they waiting to step out to perform? Are they comfortable among the objects beside them, or do they feel trapped?

Fermie’s female characters are often depicted within safe, homely settings, but they are simultaneously being thrust into a theatrical spotlight. They are either staged in isolation or caught in intimate shared moments, enclosed in a domestic context that has been constructed for the viewing pleasure of an unseen audience – a voyeuristic perspective implicitly shared by the viewer. 

There is a timelessness to Fermie’s oeuvre. The use of silhouettes and familiar patterns forges a visual world of archetypes, in which objects and people carry a weight of unidentifiable emotions. Botanical motifs symbolise a meeting point between inside and outside, where the domesticated meets the wild in a way that is elegantly beautiful while always subtly threatening to spin out of control. 

Each “one act play” tells a complex yet mysterious narrative, in which motivations and backstories are tantalisingly obscure. Frayed canvas threads suggest an unravelling of relations, replete with social anxieties and internalised conversations. In some pieces, figures appear to fade or to stand unwittingly beside their own ghostly echoes, hinting at a sense of uncertainty around personal boundaries. Fermie’s paintings tread the fine line between personhood and persona; between our true selves and the versions of ourselves we present to the world. 

Text by Anna Souter 

Role Of A LifeTime by Bobbye Fermie

Role Of A Lifetime, 2024, 70 cm x 50 cm, Acrylic collage on canvas

VrijSpel by Bobbye Fermie

Vrij Spel, 2024, 30 cm x 40, Acrylic and pencil on canvas

Stage Fright by Bobbye Fermie

Stage Fright, 2024, 110  x 155 cm, Acrylic collage on canvas

In Two Minds II by Bobbye Fermie

In Two Minds II, 2024, 40 x 30 cm, Watercolour on silk and acrylic on canvas

Bobbye Fermie (b. 1990, Amsterdam, NL) practice is an ongoing response to themes of isolation, personal boundaries and social anxiety. Fermie's practice explores the archetypal portrayal of interiors and homes within culture and storytelling, such as theatre sets and advertisement. Her work explores the juxtaposition between the public and private space and process internal emotions through the use of sets and scenes. Fermie's watercolour paintings and collages depict imagined worlds that are often inhabited by fictional, shapeshifting characters. The viewer is invited into the world of these characters and glimpses a scene of ambiguity following imagined intimate moments. Narratives are often slightly obscured or one layer removed from the viewer, giving them a feeling of separation or voyeurism.

Fermie completed the post graduate degree ‘The Drawing Year’ at the Royal Drawing School, London in 2015 after completing her bachelor in Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. Fermie has participated in several artist residencies including Porthmeor Studios (2021, 2023) and Hafod Residency (2016).

Education

2014- 2015 Royal Drawing School, Post Graduate Diploma

2011-2014 Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, BA Fine Art

2009-2010 Royal Academy of Art The Hague, Photography

Solo Exhibitions

2024 16 One Act Plays, Wilder Gallery, 15th May- 5th June

2023 To Set the Stage (online), Artist Focus, Wilder Gallery

2023 Tales of the Home (online), Oliver Projects

Selected Group Exhibitions

2024

What She Said, Purslane Gallery

London Original Print Fair, Soho Revue

Origins, RHODES Contemporary Art

London Art Fair, 155a Gallery

2023

The Peace of Wild Things (online), Violet Hour

Group show, A Mon Avis, Copenhagen

Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, Oliver Projects

The Forever Now, Art City Works

Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy

In my hand a forest lies asleep, Violet Hour

Opening, A Mon Avis, Copenhagen

2022

Pageant, Violet Hour

Oneiric, Purslane Gallery

The Duchy, Arc Padstow, The Artist Contemporary

Works on Paper 4, Blue Shop Cottage

London Art Fair, 155a Gallery

A Material World, Liliya Art Gallery,

What She Said, Purslane Gallery

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition

2021

Soft Shadows, with Emily Fairlie Baker, 155a Gallery

Artist Focus (online), Wilder Gallery

Reveille, Violet Hour

Winter Fair, 155a Gallery

The Artists’ Oracle, White Crypt Gallery

Ambrosia (online), Purslane

Mothflower (online)

Green Fires (online), Violet Hour

2020

This is Where We Meet, Carousel London

Original | Paper (online), Wilder Gallery

On the Strangest Sea (online), Violet Hour

Summer group show, 155a Gallery

The Art Register at Sophie Breitmeyer

Works on Paper 1 and 2 (online), Blue Shop Cottage

Winter Salon, 155a Gallery

2019

Alter- Pieces, Platform Southwark (co-curated)

Awarded Residencies

The Residency, Villa Lena, Tuscany, supported by patron

Katy Wickremesinghe, June 2024

Porthmeor Studios, Cornwall, Jan-Feb 2021 and Nov-Dec 2023

Dumfries House, Scotland, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022

Coombes Farm Devon, ‘How Trees Talk’ April 2019

Hafod Estate, Wales, September 2018

Borgo Pignano, Tuscany, October 2016

Publications

2022 TOAST Magazine, words by Mina Holland, photographed by Elena Heatherwick

2021 Little Book of Artists by Kelly Jay

2021 The Artists’ Oracle, Card Oracle Deck, White Crypt

2020 It’s Freezing in LA, ‘Lessons for Environmentalism in Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You’, issue 6

2019 The Drawing Ideas Book, Frances Stanfield

2019 Ways Of Drawing: Artists’ Perspectives and Practises, Royal Drawing School

Studio portrait of Bobbye Fermie in her studio
A Place Of Comfort by Bobbye Fermie

A Place of Comfort, 2024, 60 x 45 cm, Acrylic and pencil collage on canvas

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