Opake’s workshop sheds light on the art profession
Thanks to Aiglon alumna and art gallery talent manager Jasmine Noel (Exeter, 2008), we recently held a workshop at Aiglon with the artist Opake (AKA Ed Worley) for a small group of Year 10 art students.
Opake’s relationship with art began aged 13, with graffiti and tagging, and as he put it both destroyed and saved him, a little like a phoenix reborn from the fire.
He shared how he emerged from a rocky past, involving homelessness and substance addiction that threatened to obscure his perceptions, to successfully turn his art into his addiction, and now far from being opaque, his artistic vision seems crystal clear.
One of his core messages for our students is to “do what you love”, because people buy into an artist’s narrative, not just the artwork itself, and that it is vital to hang on to that drive to keep persevering, which is of course easier if you are enraptured by what you do. This indeed resonates with many spheres outside art.
He continued by expressing that where possible we must not worry if we make mistakes, yet to keep questioning your work and to reach mastery through sheer persistence. Opake’s artwork is ‘cartoonish’ at heart but he then hijacks the original visual by repeating it in a kaleidoscope of positions to the point that it becomes something totally contrasting, abstract.
This new outcome is his method for interrupting insanity. Usually insanity is associated with disorder but here compulsive repetition creates a unique piece, a new order, which conveys in Opake harmony. He collaborates with mental health charities to promote the therapeutic nature of making art, and hopes to make his work relatable and accessible.
The artist advises us to work with what we have, keep it simple, start digitally with mockups on an i-pad, and then in this case he took a skateboard, adhesive vinyl sheets, refillable pens and spray paints and demonstrated his process, letting our students try too.
Jasmine said herself that she loved art when she was a student at Aiglon but was not sure at the time how she could make a career in this field. Therefore this type of interaction with an artist accompanied by his gallery representative and investment adviser, enables students to both see a successful artist in action as well as gain insights on the business side of the art world.
Opake’s journey to prominence was far from linear, he began as a pet portrait artist before exploring animation, being taken on by a publisher, developing an Instagram following during Covid and going on to secure interest from galleries - especially the Quantas Gallery, with exhibitions in the pipeline.
Our students and art teachers came out of the workshop enlightened by what they had heard and seen. Opake also generously promised to give them each name stickers that he will himself personalise! It was an exceptional day and, where the artist had been spray painting the skateboard, the sun shone on the fluorescent colours left behind in the snow.
Student artwork inspired by this workshop will be exhibited as part of a collaborative art show at the pop-up Grove gallery in Villars at the end of term - the week of March 13th - and we welcome parents and other members of the community to come and experience it for themselves.