London Art Spot: Good Wives and Warriors

Good Wives and Warriors are Becky Bolton & Louise Chappell

It’s not often you find an artistic collaboration as seemless as this. Take any part of one of the Good Wives and Warriors’ giant wall paintings and it’s likely that even they wouldn’t be able to tell you which one of them painted that section.

They’ve had creative adventures all over the globe from a painting tour of South America, to Australia, to the States and around Europe sharing their talent with the rest of the world. Their colourful designs have been picked up by the likes of MTV, Adidas, Urban Outfitters and Swatch as well as a few design magazines and books. There will certainly be more of that in their future.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Becky and Louisa tell us where the name Good Wives and Warriors comes from, share stories of their South America adventures and talk about where they’re jetting off to next.

LLO: Where does the name Good Wives and Warriors come from and how has your partnership developed since university?
B&L: The name Good Wives and Warriors comes from the etymology of our names. The name Rebecca is Hebrew in origin and means ‘to bind’ and that suggests being a good and faithful wife. Louise comes from the French ‘Louis’ meaning famous warrior and renowned fighter. So together we are ‘Good Wives and Warriors’. It in no way represents our personalities but we liked the sound of it so it stuck!

LLO: Which aspects of London life influence your creativity?
B&L: It has to be the other creative, talented and motivated people that we are surrounded by in London. We share a studio with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Olivia Decaris, two energetic and talented French designers and next-door are Felix de Pass, Alex Hume and Giles Miller who are constant sources of support and inspiration. Also the wealth of exhibitions and opportunities in London make such a difference.

LLO: You’re known for your large-scale wall paintings. What’s the biggest you’ve done so far and where was it?
B&L: I think this has to be the painting we did in Clerkenwell with Space In Between Gallery. The exhibition was called ‘Buckminsterfullerene Dream’ and we spent 11 days on this painting, which is by far the longest we’ve spent on a single wall painting. We also painted the columns and part of the floor.

LLO: If you could choose any wall in London to redecorate, where would you bring the paintbrushes and what would you create?
B&L: The entire outside of the Tate Modern would be pretty good! A big sprawling mass of wonder.

LLO: Which piece of work or professional moment have you been most proud of so far?
B&L: I think we both feel pretty proud of ourselves when we’re in a book! There is something about being in print that really validates what you do. Also, the first exhibition we curated in Glasgow called the Sprezzatura Maze, because we were responsible for every aspect of the exhibition from selecting the artists, building the walls and playing hosts to the French artists that came to stay with us. It was such hard work but really worth it.

LLO: Past clients include Adidas, Urban Outfitters, Swatch, MTV and loads more. Do you have a dream client or project?
B&L: We’ve always wanted to do book covers, so maybe vintage or Penguin, we’d like to do a honey label and the set design for a big theatre production.

LLO: Tell us about your painting tour of South America – challenges, best moments, etc.
B&L: We had an incredible time in South America, but there were lots of challenges! It was really hard to pinpeople down with dates for exhibitions. We’d been emailing for months before but still had no definite plans when we arrived so had to try and make it all happen.

The first painting we did in Cusco, Peru, involved going round with a translated speech about ourselves, and asking if we could paint on people’s walls. Obviously there were lots of Incan walls that we couldn’t paint on, and we had many rejections, but finally a lovely man let us loose on his wall and kept giving us Inca Cola (which is luminous green) and key rings! His kids and the stray dogs hung around us as we were painting and we had lots of attention from passersby. (Most of which we didn’t understand!)

One of the paintings we did in Buenos Aires was throughout the night, starting at 10 and finishing at 7 in the morning. We were exhausted and I (Becky) ended up fainting in MacDonald’s which was really embarrassing as everyone just stepped over me thinking I was a drunk! This painting was a ‘Cock-Rocket’ so it got quite a lot of attention too, which was funny.

LLO: What’s a typical creative day like for the two of you?
B&L: We share a studio with designers in Shoreditch so most days are spent working away there unless we’re doing a wall painting somewhere and then that means long hours of painting in situ. When we’re doing commercial work we’ll be in the studio but doing exhibitions and wall paintings means we get out and about a lot.

We were just involved in an exhibition called ‘Super K Sonic Boooum’ by Nelly Ben-Hayoun at the Manchester Science Festival which involved us making a geodesic dome out of 75 pieces of cardboard, trying to paint and construct it in our studio (which is pretty small) and then attempting to take the whole thing in pieces to Manchester on the train. It was a nightmare and it kept collapsing! We finally managed to make it stay up so people could go inside but it was such a mission. Our brains work much better in 2-D than in 3-D! So we always have periods of exhibition stuff, which is way more fun than being attached to our desks.

LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
B&L: We love Raqib Shaw for his incredibly intricate and sumptuous paintings. To be honest, most of the artists we like don’t live in London!

LLO: What are you working on now?
B&L: We’re going to do an exhibition in Mexico City in 3 weeks time so we’re doing a new set of drawings to take over, so they are taking up most of our time at the moment. They are quite labour intensive. We’re also waiting to hear back from a couple of commercial jobs to see if we’ve got them.

Thanks Becky and Louise!

For more from Becky and Louise, check out their colourful website.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s