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Shedding New Light on Nudes: Neon Dreams are Made

While globally-recognised artists like Turner Prize-winning, Tracey Emin might have dabbled in the light art of neon, some no lesser creative lights are striving to make their own highly illustrative claims for fame through the unique medium of late. And one of the leading, er, lights in this nu wave of neon art is Romily Alice Walden. Although how she ever made it is a source of wonder in itself, given that she couldn’t find anyone in the UK to teach her the – admittedly – rare art of neon bending. Hence why she relocated to Berlin to pursue her vividly-illuminated compositional vision, after deciding on this chosen path. It was there, in Germany that Walden was taken under the artistic wing of a neon lightsmith, who acted as her mentor going forward; and equipped her with all the necessary skills required to succeed.

Having practised and perfected her chosen genre thereafter, Walden speaks candidly about how she now considers herself a hands-on maker, explaining; “In a time when our attention spans are limited and the finished outcome is infinitely more appealing than putting in the graft, there’s something remarkable about self-taught artists.” On which note Walden admits nowadays she’d rather plunder her funds to make something herself, as opposed to spending a small fortune on paying someone else to teach her. Which brings us nicely to the here and now and Walden’s much-anticipated new neon nudes. Primarily lit in various decadent shades of pink, her neon women of the night tend to manifest as a subversion of the signs that plaster late-night strip clubs and typically Las Vegas joints.

Readily citing the role that social media has played in thrusting the female form into what she believes to be ‘another stratosphere’, Walden feels that with modern way we all advertise and essentially, expose ourselves via various e-platforms, comes the advent of a far more pervasive cult of female celebrity than we’ve previously observed. Walden says; “I was really looking at the way in which the female body is portrayed in our culture. There are so many embodiments of pornography and sexuality.” Yet the likes of Instagram have, conversely afforded women a new kind of agency; where – according to Walden – they’re “able to present their bodies in the way they want, rather than as subject to the male gaze.”

Instagram Age Presents Exciting Opportunities for Creative Individuals Keen to Project Their Art Work to Wider Audiences

Continuing to (albeit faintly) praise the emergence of social media as a means by which to convey contemporary art like never before, Walden adds; “If you aren’t necessarily comfortable in the highbrow fine art world (people might be intimidated by galleries), but with Instagram they can enjoy art on their own terms.” Vocally championing the unprecedented degrees of democracy and diversity social media platforms give the would-be fine art exponents (as well as the established practitioners), Walden also admits that the inception of such models has subsequently made access to countless artist back catalogues a lot easier and almost instantaneous. All of which, of course allows a far wider opportunity for artists to learn from (and be visually influenced by) other artists.

Returning to the subject in question here and now though, and Walden speaks glowingly of contemporary art royalty, such as the Emins of this world, facilitating neon as another weapon in their creative arsenal. And it’s not just artistic movers and shakers who feel the need to express themselves via the luminous aesthetic qualities of neon, as today everyone from hair salons and bars to churches (Emin’s piece in Liverpool Cathedral feels transcendental in said environment) and workshops are embracing the genre. But what’s the appeal? What does Walden think the big idea with neon is, so to speak? “We’re so desensitised to LED lights and laptop screens that I think there’s something new and exciting about neon,” she recently told another media outlet during an interview, going on to add; “It looks like magic. Humans are mammals, and seeing something so obviously not part of our natural environment always feels otherworldly.”

Whilst Walden’s immense neon works may be out of reach for the average contemporary art appreciator and avid collector, here at Chelmer we can offer you more competitively priced pieces which would – and if you excuse the pun – light up any urban living space with its unique presence. Notably from hugely popular (and best-selling) contemporary artists like Courty, whose neon-lit installations and backdrops for TV, theatre and international film sets – among his significant achievements – single him out as a force to be reckoned with. And whose compositions we are excited to supply to interested parties.

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