The magical imaginations of Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell
When artists Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell met on their very first day of art school at the Glasgow School of Art, it seemed impossible to foresee that many years later they’d be designing large-scale installations for brands like Adidas, Swatch, and Absolute Vodka, as well as exhibiting their work around the world from Berlin to Buenos Aires.
In 2007 they formed Good Wives and Warriors—and they’ve been bringing their whimsical, intense, and vibrant art to the world ever since.
Here they share their advice on how to make the most of London’s exploding art scene, and more.
What is the significance of your name “Good Wives and Warriors”?
It’s actually to do with the etymology of our names. Rebecca is from the Hebrew ‘to be bound to one’s husband’ – AKA a good wife – and Louise stems from Louis, meaning ‘famous warrior’. It’s always hard to think of a name that you want to represent your practice but Good Wives and Warriors just clicked for us. We liked the perceived contradiction of the name and it suits the process of working creatively – you often have to be tenacious and fight to gets things done, but work also requires nurture.
How would you describe your working relationship? How does a partnership work with illustration?
Our working relationship has developed over the past ten years (eek!) and feels less and less like collaboration and more like a partnership. We are also friends and have very shared social lives so it often feels closer to family than a business partnership. In the illustration itself, we try and make it as even as possible although some administration tasks fall to one person or another for practical reasons.
Who are your biggest influences?
Stylistically, probably artists like Hieronymus Bosch, Albert Durer and Hogarth. We saw The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch in the Prado when we were still at art school and were blown away by it. We’re definitely inspired by that type of mind boggling narrative detail and we constantly refer to examples of Durer’s work again for the beautiful line work.
In terms of why we like to paint on walls, that came from the artist Richard Wright. He gave us a talk at Art school and talked about the weight of painting on canvas and making an object that can often feel like a burden. He destroyed all his paintings and started painting on walls. It made a lot of sense to us at the time. Painting on walls felt natural and freeing for us.
Also, both of our dad’s are scientists so we were brought up seeing scientific imagery especially in magazines like the New Scientist. This has lead to our love of illustrations of the natural world, the microscopic and a general wonder of the Universe.
What’s the strangest place you’ve found inspiration?
That is a tricky question because we are naturally drawn to a lot of things that people would generally call strange but to us are just interesting or compelling. A strange place to find inspiration might be somewhere like a shopping mall and I don’t think that has happened! We do often get good ideas when on trips so maybe a moment of inspiration on an Easyjet flight could count?!
What are your three go to galleries or art spaces in London?
The Wellcome Trust– always great for art and science shows.
The Natural History Museum – We particularly love the ‘Spirit Collection’. Many floors of preserved animal specimens in jars.
V&A – There is so much incredible decorative detail. You can never fail to be inspired here.
Can you describe your perfect London day?
London is such a rich and interesting city that we would probably need to describe the perfect week! I guess a perfect day would begin with a great breakfast out somewhere locally and contain a good mixture of culture, work, an indulgent matinee and time spent with friends.