Photo: Rose Wylie, The Times, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Wylie exhorts a form of class levelling, in her art everything is treated as a primary source, all materials are considered equal. Her work is an expression of a total aesthetic, in which ‘truth’ is what we see and experience, liberated from the annuals of history. With this mentality memory becomes a material, its fallibility a means to create (Choi and Lager Gallery, Koln, Germany).

Rose Wylie works from her home in Kent. At age 77 she is absorbed in illustrating her politics, ideas and values large scale. Making canvas billboards, wall paintings, patching and layering images, and voicing her beliefs through broad vibrant strokes, has earned her a prominent place in contemporary art within the UK. Her forthright approach to texturing canvas and opinion, has endeared her to many through recent exhibitions at Tate Briain and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. Wylie describes herself as “unconsciously rebellious,” an artist re-composing her training from the Royal College of Art, as a kind of spontaneous ‘untaughtness’  in an effort to directly position her figures, text and stories in a personally significant way (Interview with Germaine Greer, The Guardian, 2010).

Wylie conjures up a singular passion for representing her interests graphically, within compositions that propose that we should all pursue larger than life representations of ourselves. Each one of us configuring an expressive canvas that is both personal and attention getting. Rose’s method is physical activism combined with strong mental imagery formed to impact the observer.



Rose Wylie in her Studio. Top Photo: The Independent, http://www.independentco.uk

Bottom Photo: www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six


Painting: Lords and Ladies, Rose Wylie (The Guardian, 2010)


Painting: The Manufacturers, Rose Wylie

The significance of Rose Wylie’s art in regards to art therapy is its production within a studio that is not ordered, but instead encompasses spontaneous physicality and purposeful impulse. Art therapy settings are often too neat and tidy, over managed, and clean. The random spread of materials, the opportunity to paint on walls, and to walk on layers of papers (or on canvas) is often not accommodated in art therapy spaces. The environment of art therapy can be aesthetically clinical with very little messiness and eccentricity. It can also be decorated in a pleasant kind of way that inhibits disorderly conduct. An art therapy studio should be experimental and engage the senses with materials that inhabit the entire space. A kind of unpredictable and animated surround that excites rather than sedates.

Extracts from an interview by Rosanna Durham with Rose Wylie Published at http://www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six. 

Why do you paint with your canvas on the floor?

I suppose it’s the opposite of the rather fancy male painter on his easel. Traditionally men go out to work and women potter around the house cleaning. Painting on the floor links to a lot about women’s lives—or far too much of it, anyway—things about scrubbing and cleaning on your hands and knees. But I hate cleaning. My paintings are, obliquely, about male domination. I don’t like male domination. I hate it. I just want equality. I think women can be different from men, but not always.

Your method of work is also interesting because you stick pieces of paper over your drawings and start again, or even stitch extra pieces of canvas onto paintings in progress.

You have to keep changing a painting or drawing to get it to look right. You handle the materials in order to do what you do. Now a lot of people think, “Oh these paintings are very nice because they have these additions.” But the additions are only there because I wanted more room on the canvas. I don’t start off thinking I’m going to add a piece because it might become a mannerism and I don’t actually like that. I’m against mannerisms. They are fake. I think they can take over and become routine.

I like things happening spontaneously. So when I’m drawing, I work a lot with ink, and you can’t rub it out or remove it. So I stick a bit of paper down and go on over it. If that’s not right, I stick another piece and then that may be better. The paper can get quite thick.


Choi and Lager Gallery, Koln, Germany, “What Means Something, Rose Wylie” http://www.choiandlager.com

Rosanna Durham, “An Interview with Rose Wylie”,  www.ohcomely.co.uk, Issue Six.

Nancy Durrant, “Why Painter Rose Wylie is Hot Stuff at 76”, The Times Visual Arts, http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Germaine Greer, “Who is Britain’s Top New Artist?” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com

Karen Wright, “In the Studio: Rose Wylie Artist”, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk