Oakley Sayer is a sixteen-year-old student studying photography at college. Sayer was first featured in our gallery during the 2022 Letchworth Open with his piece entitled ‘Cora.’ Since then, he has continued his artistic pursuits through creating abstract pieces heavily influenced by music, socio-political issues and self-discovery.
What are three words you would use to describe your art?
Bold. Thought-provoking. Chaotic.
What is your relationship with the Broadway Gallery and how has it influenced your work?
I was first introduced to the gallery by my art teacher. She informed me of the Letchworth Open and encouraged me to submit a piece. I was a bit hesitant at first because I didn’t really look at my art as something to be displayed; I just kind of painted for myself. The experience of my work being featured in the Letchworth Open opened my eyes to more opportunities and urged me to keep creating. I think I’ll probably apply for the next one.
Who or what influences do you draw inspiration from?
I take influence from all kinds of creative avenues. In terms of artists, Cy Twombly is probably my favourite artist ever. I draw a lot of inspiration from his technique and mark making. I’m also obsessed with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work and have studied him a lot.
A lot of the pieces I’ve made have actually been inspired by music. I’m more interested in the context of songs rather than the sonic aspects, often researching albums and incorporating the themes and concepts behind their creation into my work. Kendrick Lamar and Pink Floyd are artists that I’ve focused on heavily. For example, I created a piece inspired by the social critiques of Pink Floyd’s album ‘Animals.’ The album itself draws inspiration from George Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm.’ Both works interrogate the social hierarchies that make up the capitalistic structure of our modern society. As I was painting, I was thinking of the Willow Project that has just recently been approved and the detrimental effects it will have on our global climate and the lives of the Alaska Natives living nearby.
My painting ‘Any Colour You Like’ is inspired by the Pink Floyd song of the same name. Roger Walters has said that the inspiration for the song came from his interaction with a man selling blue china pots. Despite all being the same colour, the salesman said: “any colour you like…” Walters took that as a metaphor for life itself. At the end of the day, we’re all going to die so we should live whatever life we want and enjoy our time. In my painting, the figure in the middle is ambiguous to reflect that this idea can apply to anyone.
Do you have a certain process when painting?
There’s never any plan. I kind of just sit down and go for it. Sometimes it takes a while and sometimes it doesn’t take long at all. The concept of the piece always emerges towards the end. For example, when I was painting ‘The Underground’ I didn’t intend to create a portrait of the underground. Instead, I asked myself what the painting ‘felt’ like. To me, it felt warm, chaotic and busy. It reminded me of the experience of being on the underground – something that I’m quite fond of. The lines and dots around the perimeter of the painting reminded me of a tube map and I added yellows in later on to mimic hand railings. It feels more like an experience rather than being limited to a certain time or a place. I like my work to reflect these sorts of individual and shared experiences.
What do you want your audience to take away from your work?
I want my work to speak to people and to convey feeling – any type of feeling. I just want people to express something. When I’m creating, I’m constantly questioning things. I want this to reflect onto the people that look at my work. I want to get people talking, thinking and to create some kind of conversation.
How do you want your work to develop and where do you see your artistic journey going?
I just want to keep creating and to keep doing what I’m doing. I want to experiment more with different materials and see where it takes me. Ultimately, I want my work to be seen by as many people as possible.
Oakley Sayer’s work will be displayed in the Broadway Gallery until Friday 27 May 2023.