Local artists Agatha O’Neill, Elizabeth Barrett and Kerrie Kent are exhibiting their new series of a ‘Word a Day’ work at Rubys of London on Monson Road until December 16. Here they tell Eileen Leahy what it’s all about…
AEK is the acronym of a local creative trio of three talented artists: Agatha O’Neill, Elizabeth Barrett and Kerrie Kent who are currently showing their new collective body of work at Rubys of London vegan patisserie.
AEK reflects the talented trio’s first names – Agatha, Elizabeth, Kerrie – and came about relatively simply.
“We needed something (to call ourselves) and we just started using AEK organically. It works for us and the best things usually are so simple,” they tell us.
Their ‘Word a Day’ project started a few years ago and despite a Covid-shaped curve ball being thrown into the mix the artists have still kept the movement going. But how did it all start?
“We just happened to find each other at a time where we all needed a creative shot in the arm.”
Elizabeth and Kerrie knew each other from working on YOU magazine’s fashion desk back in the mid-noughties, while Agatha and Elizabeth were fellow pupils at the Sacred Heart School (now Beechwood). Kerrie and Agatha met each other a few years later when they both worked together on creative projects at Hoopers department store.
“We all naturally bonded over a shared love of creativity,” they tell me.
“We launched ‘Word a Day’ to push ourselves more and to explore a project outside the day-to-day. We did six months of posting our artwork online, with no day missed, and then we held an exhibition at the end of this period.”
That was in 2016 when the women exhibited as part of the UnFest event’s UnArt show run by The Forum. So what does it involve the three of them doing?
“We created a visual for a random word every day. We took it in turns to think of a word, never in advance, so sometimes we had to create on the fly at any point in the day that we could. There were no rules, we didn’t have to be literal and could use any medium we wanted. It was complete and amazing freedom. Also being part of a collective is so much fun.
“We WhatsApp each other way into the night – not always about art – sometimes about life, love and ambition. It’s just great conversations with friends, brought together for a crazy love of creativity and beauty.”
Since the three first exhibited six years ago they haven’t done any more shows together – until now…
“This is the first time we have displayed our art as a trio since then,” they explain.
“We have all individually exhibited and sold our work. Agatha had an exhibition at Trinity, while Kerrie has been involved in various art projects to raise money for The Brompton Foundation as well as other charities.”
So what will their new show bring to the table and how did the show at Rubys of London come about?
“Kerrie was approached by Ruby to display her art and suggested we all take part. We all knew and admired the brand, it’s very fresh and quite feminine, but also contemporary with a touch of luxe. So we explored moods and colour palettes to compliment the surroundings. We really were free to create work in our own style and step to our own beat, so each collection has its own unique inspiration. The exhibition will finish on December 16 and each original work is priced at £60.”
What do they think visitors will enjoy most about the new AEK show?
“We are really passionate about originality and believe that because each single painting is completely unique, both in style and messaging, that people will really take away what it means to them. After all art is what it means to you personally. What you see. What you like, and what you feel. Now more than ever it’s lovely – healthy even – to take a moment, away from your paper, or your screen, to see something new, and get a little lost in your own world.”
So are they all trained artists or just passionate about creating work?
“We have all been mad about art since day one and the thing we all have in common is that we have always created no matter where our lives and jobs have taken us.”
Agatha is an art director working full-time in advertising and is based in London. Elizabeth is a senior designer for a creative agency based in Bristol, and Kerrie is founder and owner of The Brand Studio, specialising in creative branding, design and consultancy.
“When you find a natural joy – or compulsion – to create, it lives on, even when (or especially when) life is hard. Between us we’ve had jobs in art direction, journalism, styling, photography, graphic design and publishing. It’s the joy found in creative expression that unites us. So to share it? Well, that’s just the cherry on the Sundae!”
And finally, what plans for 2023 do AEK have as a collective?
“Next year is looking really exciting. We’ve had a fantastic reaction to this exhibition so far and have really found a great way to work together as well as alongside one another. We have a new project that we are planning to launch in the spring, which will take inspiration from our ‘Word a Day’ roots, but will really bring our personalities and styles together in a new direction.
“We’re also discussing an even more accessible form of artistic expression for the town – if we find the time. Watch this space!”
The AEK show is on at Rubys of London until December 16 and each painting costs £60.