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Your Space Or Mine

Magda Archer’s Is It Over Yet?

  • 29 January 2021
  • Words by Adrian Burnham

Magda Archer - Is It Over Yet?

She’s been called a Queen of contemporary kitsch. Magda Archer is a painter, printmaker and occasional musician. Inspiration for her artwork comes in many forms: her collection of toys, tins, children’s books, novelty lamps, religious votives and endless cuttings from magazines and printed ephemera.

Chance happenings in Archer’s daily life also spark ideas: a scribbled note or list that blows across her path in the park; a childhood rhyme or song lyric that returns unexpectedly to mind; the shit things that happen as well as the often-underappreciated everyday pleasures such as dogs, sunshine, bird song and boxes of Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells.

Her cutesy imagery is often cut, however, with an altogether opposing sentiment. That is, the world is sick. Archer often combines delighting, toothsome motifs with hand-painted words that come from the pit of the stomach. Her painting of a lamb, pink bow for a collar with its shiny black hooves frolicking amidst tulips, hibiscus and violets coupled with the phrase ‘My Life Is Crap’ is one example. Then there’s the orange-eyed, pale lilac kitten on a pink ground, an imploring image with an imploring phrase rendered in sunny yellow to go with it, ‘Text Me Yeah?’ A special favourite is a chalky white blancmange with a pinky-red jelly topping set against a grey background. This wobbly dessert is top and tailed with the words ‘Thank God,’ and ‘I’m Normal.’ Archer’s work draws the viewer in through a delighting image and at the same time talks of human frailty and random cruelties, neediness, fear and self-delusion that visit all of us.

The BUILDHOLLYWOOD collaboration with Magda Archer sees her Is It Over Yet? painting appearing on walls and billboards throughout the UK. It’s a classic. Bright, beaming colours, a cute kid hiding under her chunky green duvet and a phrase that flashes through our minds a thousand times a day. Of course, we know it’s not over. We’ve got to hang on in there. But while we do, it’s great to see art in our cities that brings a wry smile and reminds us that the pandemic is a dilemma we share and it’s okay to admit feeling a bit overwhelmed sometimes. Magda Archer’s clever kitsch is a welcome addition to our streets.

 

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