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5 minutes with artist Kelly Jay

5 minutes with artist Kelly Jay

ARTCH Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

KJ My name is Kelly Jay (b.1998). I’m an artist and designer with roots in Britain, The Caribbean, and India. I recently moved from Somerset (near Bristol, UK) to Wiltshire. Last year, I was lucky enough to have my own studio space in a barn close to where I live. Now, I’m getting things set up to create works from home again, which I love, too.

I create playful and decorative artworks, using a colourful palette, primarily gouache and inks. My style is inspired by my Caribbean and Indian heritage. My artwork is a contemporary take on ancient storytelling. Folklore, myths, memories, and dreams influence my work.

Kelly Jay in her studio

ARTCH How did you first get into art?

KJ I’ve always created artwork throughout my childhood so it feels natural to continue to make art now. I went to Art School in Nottingham - which I loved. The course was so open, and we got to experiment with so many different mediums. After that, I went on to study my other passion, Interior Design, at University.

In the winter before the Pandemic, I felt the need to create something more tactile with my hands again, so I picked up my sketchbook and started experimenting from there. Over the past few years, I’ve experimented and developed my work, which I have found satisfying and exciting. 

Currently, I work as an Interior Designer by day and work on my art practice in the evenings and weekends. I’m fascinated with colour, pattern, and textures. I try to bring those into whatever I’m working on.

ARTCH How does your Caribbean and Indian heritage influence your work?

KJ Without strong cultural links to my ancestors’ beginnings, I create art to explore stories surrounding those cultures, real or imagined. My artwork consists of figurative and symbol-like elements that I relate to stories and characters I create that are inspired by something I feel a connection to.

Artist Kelly Jay in her studio

ARTCH Any exciting projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?

KJ I used to have a never-ending list of things I wanted to achieve with my art practice, and in some ways, I still do, but this year, I’ve decided to take a slower, more sustainable approach to it. That way, I can enjoy the process much more and remember that being an artist is a life-long pursuit, and it doesn’t always have to be fast-paced to be considered successful. That being said, if the right project comes along, I try to make space for it.

ARTCH If you could own one piece of art (however unattainable!) what would it be?

KJ I love Lubaina Himid’s work and recently saw some pieces at the National Portrait Gallery a couple of weeks ago at the ‘The Time is Always Now’ Exhibition. My favourite piece of hers is called Le Rodeur: The Exchange.

Artist Lubaina Himid

ARTCH Arty tip you’d love to share or advice for young artists starting out?

KJ So hard to choose! I would say firstly, you don’t have to be young to start out. And secondly, it’s so important to remember to have fun and make sure it’s meaningful for you, not just for other people.

ARTCH Dream dinner party guests?

KJ All the artists I follow and creatives I’ve worked with would be amazing! One big dinner party please!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us Kelly! You can follow Kelly on Instagram here.

View Kelly's new works in frames hand-painted by Kirsty Erskine-Hill here: 'A Perfect Day, 2024', 'A Snake that could Fly, 2024', 'Forever Wishing 2024', 'New Portals, 2024', 'The Dream Fish, 2024', 'The River Birds, 2024'


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