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New exhibition rises out of the ashes for painter Andrea Tyrimos

PUBLISHED: 06:26 19 June 2014

Andrea Tyrimos

Andrea Tyrimos

Archant

To watch a life's work go up in flames is surely an artist's worst nightmare. For students at the Glasgow School of Art last month though, it was a terrifying reality and one that painter Andrea Tyrimos knew all too well.

Last year, the 27-year-old experienced a truly freak occurrence when an old television in her ­Enfield studio caught fire and destroyed much of the work she had produced since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2009.

Reflecting

A post-examination determined that rays of light reflecting off a mirror had slowly burnt away at the box, eventually causing it to burn in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

“I said to myself it’s such a freak accident, there must be a reason this has happened,” Tyrimos explains on the eve of her new exhibition, Roadz.

“I felt so much for those students in Glasgow, but I bet something good will come of it and that some of them use it as inspiration for their work. It took me a long time to paint again in my studio, but that kind of spurred me on to ­revisit my brick project.”

Tyrimos’ first brick piece was produced during her time at Saint Martins. Tasked with the theme of ‘play’, she took inspiration from sculptors around her and sought to find a way to make paintings more interactive and physical. Attaching a blank canvas onto the wall of a derelict basement, she began to apply layers of oil paint that blended in with and borrowed the character of the surrounding environment.

Returning to this technique after the fire, she went on to produce work at outdoor spots all around Hackney – some of which has drawn praise from Idris Elba and Jon Cassar, the director of hit US drama 24.

“For me, walls have so much character. Think of the way that an old person’s face has wrinkles: it tells their stories and I feel the same way about walls and surfaces. You can see where someone’s drilled a hole and wonder what was in it; you can think about the past lives of a stain or ash marks from a fire.

Immortalising

“I’m trying to tell a story, but I’ve had people say I’m immortalising the streets on canvas because obviously they’re constantly changing, especially in Shoreditch where another poster’s been put up or a piece of graffiti’s been added.”

The bright, neon tones used by Tyrimos often depict the equally colourful characters she meets around London. Despite hailing from the northern ends of the city, she finds Hackney to be her most natural muse – so much so that in the final week of the exhibition, she will be painting a piece live at the Curious Duke Gallery.

“With the East End and Shoreditch, I just find it really inspiring. Wherever I turn, I’m constantly admiring what’s around me: whether it’s street art, the way someone’s presented a plate of food or the outfit someone’s wearing. A lot of creativity goes into everything there and you’re allowed to express yourself as an individual.”

Beyond Shoreditch though, Tyrimos also hopes to work in areas which are less known for street or public art. “My dream’s to go into different cities around the world. Especially when you have the brick pieces together, you can really see the difference in texture, colour and character. I do love the idea of making art more accessible, because not everyone’s going to want to walk into an art gallery.

“Even if they do, people tend to look at a painting for one or two minutes and then move on, so this is about keeping them there and involving them in the process.”

Andrea Tyrimos’ Roadz runs at the Curious Duke Gallery until June 28. Visit curiousdukegallery.com

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