FRESCOES
Olivia Irvine, Elysium

Fresco is a technique first used in Antiquity, then throughout the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and into the modern era. There are examples in Roman dwellings, monasteries and churches in Europe, sacred sites in Asia and municipal buildings in Mexico and elsewhere. Italian for ‘fresh’, it refers to painting with pigment and water on damp lime plaster. It is the only painting technique that does not use any additives; the lime plaster acts as both surface and binder. It can feel like magic when the paint becomes part of the wall. Fresco’s appeal lies in the luminosity of its colours, the directness of the approach and the natural materials used.

As well as fresco I make sgraffito (lime plaster scratched into to reveal the layer below). I often work on portable panels using a mixture of fresco, sgraffito, wax emulsion, metal leaf and egg tempera.  I have experimented with ‘strappo’, a technique used for transferring fresco from its original wall or panel and transferring it to a lighter support. This can lead to exciting discoveries, especially when the process is manipulated.

I am interested in finding links between my drawings, oil paintings and frescoes, producing experimental panels for exhibitions, liaising with architects and interior designers, working with others on wall frescoes and receiving commissions from various clients.

 

 

 

In 2017, I attended Carey Mortimer’s fresco course in Bosa, Sardinia, then took further lessons with Julia Alexandra Mee in Edinburgh. This gave me the confidence to create a series of experimental panels in 2020 for a micro-residency with other artists with  NHS Tonic Arts on the theme of Life Under Lockdown. The results were  exhibited in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh – the City of Edinburgh purchased two of my panels. In 2022, I won a Stephen Palmer Travel Bursary to visit frescoes in England. In 2022, I was also awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to gain further training in fresco. I am working with various mentors, attending several courses and making a study visit to Italy. Isabelle Bonzom, an artist, author and fresco expert from Paris came to Scotland in July 2022 to guide me in the execution of a large wall fresco at Merz in Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway. In 2023, I will be attending a  course with Patrizia Gioia in Rome and a further course in Sardinia with Carey Mortimer.