Ruth Mulvie

Ruth Mulvie

Artist Ruth Mulvie
Photo: Andrew Gordon

Have you sat in a public place and watched the world go by, observing social relationships and cultural landscapes, taking in the study of people enjoying themselves in places of beauty and pleasure.  Ruth’s work is a multifaceted layering of culture versus style.  Her work epitomises a diverse social study of flamboyant ways of life within the ambience of private pool parties; beautiful oceans, pivotal intimate moments, amongst people having a good time.  Her work is both colourful and beautiful to the eye; capturing sometimes the surreal juxtaposed with real life.  However these illustrious colourful paintings of joie de vivre are a deep reflective observation of modern society.  Her love of kitsch and colour creating a richness in her artworks with the subtle relations of what are almost ordinary scenes; in these social or private gatherings as we go about our lives, feeling unobserved.  An ordinary scene of man feeding a dog some ice cream, a mother giving her child a towel, girls roller blading, people dancing and playing in pools.  Those tiny moments of communication in a more elaborate and glamours composition, that makes the narrative of her artworks so compelling.

artwork Ruth Mulvie
Camper by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Beating Beat by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
An Afternoon at the Annenberg

Ruth’s work reflects and recalls some of her memories of childhood, those happy moments on holidays, her parents taking the family on wonderful locations.  Her paintings emphasise the reflective light on sunny days, the skin tones of different sunbathers, the light reflection on swimming pool waters and the pale distance of bright open Californian beaches with the endless horizons and light beach sands as people amble through reflective beautiful landscapes.  However mostly the freedom that is so often felt.  There are influences of David Hockney and Edward Hopper with that spin of a fashion shoot, capturing a moment in time reminding me of fashion photography’s colourful and exuberant Ellen von Unwerth or even the observations of Arthur Elgort.

artwork Ruth Mulvie
The Golden Years by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Living Her Best Life by Ruth Mulvie

She began this body of work whilst studying fine art, and often traveled alone to Blackpool sleeping in her car so she could capture the early sunrise, taking photographs.  She loved the amusement arcade and loves everything artificial.  She describes the swimming pools and the freedom of swimming as she reflects, during our conversation.  Recounting how much she enjoyed beauty pageants, glamorous women, old photography and over saturation of colour.  This time capsule stands out in her work, and what makes it so compelling.  The method of her compositions are curated with digital collage, composing her ideas from architectural landscapes, and the narrative of the figures; from the pavilions with ball dancing and amusement arcades of the UK seaside resorts to that all American dream.

artwork Ruth Mulvie
Domino by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Alpine Escape by Ruth Mulvie

She uses photoshop to create a digital montage of her concepts and then starts to paint, using a combination of acrylics with high flow pigments and over the top of it, she applies the oil paints to create a smooth finish. She paints flat, a combination of the styles of the oil over the acrylic, some areas are very fluorescent Ruth explains, working a lot with negative space and applying the paint in quite a systematic way.  She knows more about what she does now, she tells me, and that she considers herself a better artist now than when she was younger.

artwork Ruth Mulvie
Girls by Ruth Mulvie
artwork by Ruth Mulvie
Paradiso by Ruth Mulvie

The path from studying art, to being a fully fledged artist, is not a straight forward journey with most established artists, and it’s these stories that give all struggling artists that glimmer of hope.  Ruth explains that she always knew she wanted to be an artist already when she was a very young girl, growing up in Hertfordshire.  She moved to Scotland to attend the Glasgow School of art, in the art deco Mackintosh Building, the famous landmark in this city, before the two fires in 2014 and then again in 2018 almost destroyed the building.  She initially went to study film for a year, and whilst she was studying, she worked on her art portfolio.  Her friends and colleagues so impressed, that she took a transition from studying film to Fine art.  However the experience appears to cross over in her artworks.  She spent 4 year studying in Glasgow plus a years exchange in Paris.

Artwork Ruth Mulvie
Tigers Kissing at the Raleigh Hotelfront by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Pink Sands by Ruth Mulvie

Ruth started learning different avenues of the art industry, after graduating she stayed on in Glasgow, working in an art gallery.  Several years in Scotland and Ruth moved to London and continued working in the art world for three years.  She then took another turn in her journey and moved to living by the sea, the place where she is happiest; the legendary seaside town of Brighton.  She met her husband and they have two young sons, with whom she spends much of their free time involved in the water sports.

artwork Ruth Mulvie
Amalfi by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Cheetahs in Ibiza by Ruth Mulvie
artwork Ruth Mulvie
Parasols by Ruth Mulvie

Ruth confirms her career really took off in 2016, when she made the choice to dedicate herself as a full time artist, give her paintings another try.  Taking advice from a business coach, she started her series of artworks ‘Joyland’ her first exhibition since university.  She hasn’t looked back since, her exhibitions taking her to all sorts of places, including Santa Monica in LA.  Her work taking another turn; introduced personally to the tour guide for the legendary Annenberg Beach house. She read the personal letters between Hollywood socialite and publisher William Randolph Hearst and the famous architect Julia Morgan when she was working on his beach house.  After viewing photos of the famous house as well as visiting the lavish Hearst castle. Ruth’s focus broadened from social observations amongst kitsch beach houses and amusement arcades, plus the glamours vast seascapes and private beach or pool lives.  Exhibiting last summer in the unconventional setting around a 1940’s pool in Hove.  Her next exhibition is planned at an art deco airport, adding that the positive reactions to her affiliated settings enhance the experience of her artworks and the importance of exhibiting in the right place.

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

Artist Ruth Mulvie
Photo: Andrew Gordon

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