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Liz Walker posed in front of her artwork blue and black floral top. The artwork is pink, abstract and has a face.

Liz Walker – Creating "painted spaces" while studying BA (Hons) Fine Art


  • Student Journal
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  • Fine Art


I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between colour and light and how I can explore this through paint.

Originally, I started off as a landscape painter focusing on the rural landscapes of Northern Ireland that surrounded me growing up. However, since studying BA (Hons) Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth, it’s morphed into a focus on the people around me, looking at family photography as a way to explore key concerns in my practice.

My practice deals with narratives of diaspora, memory, and heritage with an emphasis on materiality. I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but I grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Having grown up with family split across the world, I’ve found that it allows me to view the world through a diasporic lens and so my paintings all link back to this ongoing experience in my life.

There is something fascinating about the idea of maintaining and nourishing culture in a completely different part of the globe, which, for me, has been done through a close relationship to my grandparents and aunt in Zapopan, through food and photography. The retelling of memories of homelands are almost always joined by visual aids. Stacks of photo books that are worn and precious. These types of photographs spark cultural conversations, unlock understanding of personal histories, and most interestingly allows for viewers who were not even included in the photographs to feel so personally connected to these moments, almost as though it was part of their own being and experience.

I like my work to explore the underlying tension that comes with temporary reunions, which results in strong moments of attention and appreciation that the individual is only aware of due to this experience of moving away and leaving a native land and family.

I focus on creating "painted spaces" rather than focusing on a realistic depiction, as it’s within these painted spaces that limits and boundaries of time are blurred. An opportunity for a collage of languages, landscapes, experiences, and reunions that exists out of reality is presented. It’s also important to me that the end result does not hide away from its paint origins. I want the materiality to be grounding to viewers, reminding them of the artist’s touch.

My process stems from gathering and sorting through family photographs and archival images. I then create a digital college where I layer images over each other and experiment with colour to create compositions, sometimes using digital paint software to mimic traditional brush marks over them.

Then I take the digital into the physical by working into large canvases, starting with layers of ink and acrylic washes that will peek out from underneath final oil paint and oil bar layers. Working on large canvases allows me to foster a more fluid paint process, where it gives the opportunity for the material to show off its true qualities.

I have really enjoyed the independent aspect of my course as it has allowed me true freedom to study and focus on what I am most interested in, and in turn has made me very self-motivated, which is an essential skill I will continue to take with me even after leaving university. I have also learned a range of practical skills in terms of building and stretching canvases as well as planning and installing exhibitions, which I can also take onto the next stage in my career.

Outside AUB, I have been fortunate to work with Bournemouth Emerging Artist Fringe (BEAF Arts Co), which has been such a huge supporter of my practice and pursuit of a career in the arts. I was in a group show as part of the Boscombe Arts Festival last summer, Roots, which explored themes of heritage. I am currently completing an artist residency with them this year, which has been the best experience I could have asked for and we are working on having an exhibition this October at the Boscombe Arts Depot. The team at BEAF has created such an open and welcoming community that I love being a part of. I recommend all students volunteer and apply for their open calls!

Something I have really loved about my time spent at AUB is that it’s a creative campus. There are so many opportunities for collaboration in all aspects. I have worked with fellow fine artists, film students, photography students and Master's students. It has been such a positive experience to be able to work on such a variety of projects and I’m grateful for everyone who was involved.

After my degree, I want to continue working and making paintings. I am currently applying to residencies and fellowships for next year, as I also would love to travel more whilst developing my practice. In the long run, my ambition is to be a studio artist and I hope to continue sharing my paintings with others.

Check out more of Liz's work on her website.

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