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  • Writer's pictureMitch Smith

Uncovered Artists: Molly Brocklehurst

Oil painting of men dancing with umberellas
Street Groove, 2022, Molly Brocklehurst

British figurative painter Molly Brocklehurst is known for producing visually nostalgic and slightly haunting works. Highly considered colour palettes provide windows and backdrops for unsaturated figures. The works speak of days gone by, for better or worse. Open ended story lines are projected through the use of open gestures and poses. Molly carefully presents clues through selective subject matter which hands the audience just enough information to draw their own conclusions.

Molly studied along side some of us during our time at Wimbledon College of Arts. When we heard that she was leaving London to set up shop in Texas, US we just had to know more. Such dramatic changes in surroundings have proven to be pivotal moments for painters and their output, so we had no doubt this would be an exciting chapter for Molly and her painting practice.

Hi Molly - Congratulations on your move to Texas! What an exciting time. Hoping you are all settled in now and this shift hasn’t disrupted your creativity too much? 🧠

Howdy! Thank you - it has been a really exciting time. It’s a real change to London in every possible way but I’m loving it. I got the keys to my new studio in Austin a couple weeks ago so I’m finally painting again which feels great.

Desk with brushes and painting in artist studio

Had you visited Texas before moving over there? The US is a massive place, what made you pick Texas in-particular? 🗺️

Well actually my husband is in the army and he had the opportunity to be posted in Texas for 3 years. Initially I was a bit apprehensive but the more I found out about Austin and its art scene, the more excited I got. I’m so glad we had the opportunity and decided to go as it’s not necessarily something we would have done otherwise. It’s a fun place to be and a proper adventure. I’d never been to Texas before, I’d only heard the saying ‘Everything’s bigger in Texas’ which I can now understand!

What other states are you planning to visit now that they are so accessible? 🧳

I’d love to go to New York. I’ve recently had some works go to the Soho House in New York so I’m definitely planning a trip to go and see them there. Arizona for the Grand Canyon, Colorado for the national parks and skiing… Alaska would be cool too and Hawaii! The list is endless… I also plan on doing a lot of travelling in Texas itself as there’s so much to see here.

It’s curious to think how this move might influence your painting style - such as your colour palette. It’s early days but have you felt any initial pull in new directions? 💡

For sure… I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of travelling since I’ve been here and I’ve been drawn to the different cultures and histories I’m learning about. New Orleans has been a particular interest to me. It’s such a fun, vibrant and colourful city, enriched with so much history. I’m interested in their street dancing culture, parades, celebrations and rituals. It’s still early days but my next body of work is all to do with this.

Molly Brocklehurst Painting
Credit: IG @artmodernmuse

Did we see you post something about a new studio space? How did you find the process of sourcing this in a new location? 🎨

Yes! It was a little stressful if I’m totally honest.. I did my research online into studio spaces and all of the studios I went to were fully leased until I came across this one. I went to a private view and was recommended the place by the gallerist. I called them up straight away and they said they had the one available so I grabbed it! Austin is renowned for having a great art scene and over the last few years it’s becoming a really popular place to live so the studios are high in demand!

What do you think your family will do with your garden studio now that you are abroad? 🏚️

Selfishly I don’t want them to do anything with it because I love that studio so much!

But that is obviously ridiculous. I know they were thinking of potentially turning it into an office... It’s a touchy subject!

It’s going to be amazing having access to so many exhibitions in the US, what galleries/artists are you keen to visit? 🖼️

My list of galleries I want to visit in the US is growing everyday. I’m excited to see the MoMA in New York. The Blanton Museum of Art in Texas looks like it’s got a good exhibition on. Also in Texas, I’d like to go to the Menil Collection in Houston and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa looks awesome.

You mentioned before that you collect photographs for your source material in flea markets and antique shops. You must be quite familiar with the markets in the UK, how do you feel about taking this discovery process to Texas? Have you been on the hunt already? 🎞️

Yes! I was taken by surprise at how many antique shops there are out here! They are BIG on antique shops which is great for me. I’ve also found some really cool and interesting old image archives online which have been a good starting point.

It’s great to see that you’ve been working with galleries in London and in Scandinavia. Do you plan to continue these relationships now that you are overseas or is this a fresh start in that respect? 🤝

I’m definitely keeping my relationship going with my gallery in Sweden as I really enjoy working with them. And I’m currently working towards an exhibition in London for next year (I don’t want to say where as I haven’t got the contract yet!), but I also definitely see this as a fresh start in terms of subject matter and opportunities and I plan to get my work out in the US as much as I can while I’m out here.

Had you been thinking about this move for a while or has it been fairly spontaneous? What advice would you give to other artists who are thinking about it, was it difficult to make it happen? 🛫

The posting came out of the blue about a year ago so it was fairly spontaneous. As I said, I was originally a bit apprehensive. I think change can be scary, especially if it’s not part of your “plan”. But I think you have to grab these opportunities when they come about, however mad they may seem! I feel really lucky that this has happened to me because otherwise there’s always an excuse as to why you can’t move. It’s good to come out of your comfort zone every now and again. My advice is to go for it if you’re thinking about it because no one wants to live and regret not giving it a shot. If it’s a disaster you can always come home.

We haven’t seen you post a selfie on instagram with a cowboy hat yet, when can we expect this? 🤠

It’s not a selfie but here’s me looking super chuffed after buying my first proper cowboy hat!

Thanks Molly. All the best with this new chapter! We’ll be rooting for you from rainy London


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