Oona Grimes

Born London

Biography

Oona Grimes works primarily in drawing, clay making, and film, with storytelling a central element of her practice. She studied at Norwich School of Art (1982–1986) followed by the Slade School of Fine Art (1986–1988). Self-described as a compulsive storyteller, Grimes describes her drawings as ‘a celebration of the absurd, a transformation of ordinary objects and a simmering consommé of fact and fiction, an ongoing series of parallel worlds’. Her artworks are rooted in experiences, conversations, and impressions of past processes – including redundant printing techniques, recycled materials, and cartoon details from Etruscan wall paintings. Printmaking is the preferred medium for Grimes due to the element of surprise that the mode of production invokes, creating tension between the original idea for an artwork and its finished appearance when printed. She was awarded the Bridget Riley Fellowship for a six-month residency at the British School at Rome (2018) and the Bryan Robertson Award (2022), and works as a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London, and The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford.

Artwork Information

Slash (1996) comprises an action-packed snapshot from an unknown story, produced as a general response to fairytales and myths. Humour and violence underlie the work. Its title refers to the colloquial term for urination, the act of which is illustrated by the hand-coloured yellow arc in the lower right-hand corner. This comedic reading is reinforced by its cartoonish appearance. Grimes printed the etching in black and white before hand-finishing it with fluorescent coloured gouache, much like a children’s colouring book.

Etching is a medium that allows direct working by Grimes. The copper plates were scratched quickly, whilst the materials themselves (nitric acid and metal) are severe in nature, echoing the violent content of the artwork. These patterns of violence refer to the seemingly innocuous playground games between children, including patterns of bullying and humiliation, which can also be seen in adult behaviour.