by Katherine Wood
The new Oriel Art Society, founded by second-year Medicine student Frankie Satchwell, marks an important development in the university’s art scene. Providing an environment for students to mix with fellow art dilettantes, consummate artists and complete beginners will be brought together to produce, exhibit and discuss all manners of artistic endeavour.
As the society’s inauguration draws nearer, I asked Frankie about some of her motivations, artistic insights and visions for the society’s future.
A Portrait of the Artist
Frankie has been involved with art for most of her life. ‘My mom is an art teacher’, she explains. However, it was only three years ago, stumbling across a pavement artist in Barcelona, that she became infatuated with chalk-based art. Returning home, Frankie immediately bought herself a box of chalk. From that moment, ‘I haven’t been able to stop using chalk since’, she tells her interviewer.
Frankie’s inspiration comes from contemporary artists and everyday life. When choosing subjects, she is drawn to unusual or distinctive features, and enjoys the challenge of recreating them on the canvas: ‘I’ll see people walk past me on the street and I pick up on their distinguishing features.’
However, this eye for detail isn’t only skin-deep. Her anatomical drawings, inspired by her medical degree and the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci, are proof that mixing business and pleasure can produce extraordinary results, as shown here in one of her submissions for A-level Art.
A Philosophy of the Artist
Turning with an editorial agility to art philosophy, Frankie draws an important historical distinction: ‘Whereas in the Renaissance period, for example, there were very common themes found in artwork and many artists were commissioned to do a similar style of art, today there is a huge spectrum of […] art as artists experiment with different media and sculpture.’ She hopes to bring this freedom to the Oriel Art Society.
With Parnassian inspiration, Frankie continues to muse: ‘I very much admire photorealistic pieces of art, particularly those from the Renaissance period, and I appreciate the talent and skill of the artists who have produced them, so I think art can be very inspirational as well as thought-provoking. More abstract or contemporary pieces of art make me think much more, and discover a message from the piece.’
Among Frankie’s favourite artists is Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th century Italian painter famous for his surreal (but eerily realistic) portraits created solely from images of fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish and books. ‘It’s very difficult to pick one single favourite piece of art by another artist, but I’d have to say I absolutely love [his work] because I’ve never seen anything like it and I love his ideas.’
A sense of an ending draws in on our interlocutors. Thankfully, art is an effective means of dealing with the stress and anxiety that comes of ending interviews. Frankie is ready: ‘In such a stressful and busy place like Oxford, creative activities can be really therapeutic.’ She turns, picks up some chalk. And I find myself staring into the amused smile of Morgan Freeman.
The Oriel Art Society is due to begin in 3rd week of Michaelmas term, meeting twice every week. For more information about joining, contact Frankie Satchwell at email@example.com.