Estelle Simpson (b.2001)

Estelle paints her fantasies. Scenes that become an adage between trembling expression and delicate detail. They describe solitary spaces and objects, warped by nostalgia. Longing overshadows what unfolds on the canvas. Human fragility defines her characters, who are frozen in reverie that seems lethal and tragic. Theatrical elements invigorate everyday minutiae, drawing attention to the subtle beauty of nature and the relics of our past. Her practice performs a deep relflection on the trespassings of the exterior world on the interior mind, and visa versa. Room impressions become stages invigorated with thoughts, feelings, struggles and pleasures.


Intimating an observation of uncanniness consuming our contemporary condition, pulling back the curtain on the vulnerable, indispensable human need for comfort which the interior fulfils is ruminated on. I explore how subject matter can be culled from theatrical imagery and fed into paintings to produce a scene which destabilizes everyday minutiae through a heightened dramatic atmosphere. Pulling from personal recollection and memory, often distorted and increasingly malleable over time. An equivocal ambience overcomes environments that blur the line between fact and fantasy.

I invite audiences in with furnishings, relics, and objects - recognizable markers of human society. Staged compositions present rhythms enhanced by props, pronounced mannerisms, and augmented body movement. The magic unfolds, layering paint with the harmonious gesture of Doig, as an adage between animated brushwork and tightly rendered details conveys a disparity, inviting further readings into the psyche. Vivid sensations unravel the perpetual present, transforming normality into a dance choreography or soundscape. Charged with the disorientating prose of Davila, paintings invoke the eruption of the chaotic, frightening things that roil beneath the controlled surface of domesticity coupled with psychological meditations on marginalised protagonists.

Investigating theatrics tempts a continuum of the dreamy, creepy, or darkly comical poetry of Bourgeois’ stuffed works. Peculiar in shape, cat dolls populate spaces as lurking incognito subjects that emanate something strange, or even evil lurking under the surface of mundanity. Extending my painting practice through methods of sewing, I bring my own fantastical visions to life. I use the feline form over figure, searching outside the limitations of human-centricity and making nature the voyeur over us within our homes.

Nature punctuates impressions with a haunting presence, as a “desire to project psychic reality onto the natural world,” akin to surrealist Agar who explores a mystical communication between vegetal matter and human sensibility. (Chadwick, Whitney: 1985: 192)

Chadwick, Whitney. (2021) Women and the Surrealist movement. Thames & Hudson