welcome to eliza downes' world.

A few weeks on from ‘I Dream in Colour’, I headed over to the Anglesea Arms to check out a similarly vibrant show. Eliza Downes has drenched one wall of the Ravenscourt Park pub in colour and pattern, with still lifes that pop off the wall.

Eliza tells me her practice is, in many ways, a product of the pandemic. Having always painted at school and increasingly at university, it was the successive lockdowns that pushed her to create more work. As she walks me round the show, I can’t think of many more positive ways to spend a government sanctioned shut in.

Her works exude an upbeat sunniness. With glowing colours and a dynamism brought about by her rhythmic use of pattern, they’re like Matisse if he’d been painting in the ‘60s.

On the subject of the Fauve master, I ask Eliza who her inspirations are.

‘Yep, Matisse is definitely up there!’ she tells me, ‘But also artists like Alan Fears and, maybe more than anything, fabrics, wallpapers and my garden!’

She goes on to tell me how, along with paint on canvas, she loves creating murals.

‘I really love painting murals. I find their size makes them more impactful and I find their collaborative nature super inspiring. I’ve done lots of exterior murals but am most excited about moving them inside. My dream would be to fill a whole children’s nursery with trees and flowers.’

There is certainly a nod to the decorative arts in her paintings. Her patterned backgrounds appear particularly flat when juxtaposed with the 3-D flowers and fruits she depicts – an inconsistency of viewpoint that reminds me of early Cubism.

Looking at Sunset, Sunflowers and Shells, I couldn’t help but think of the distorted fruit in Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’.

Eliza tells me she intends to continue experimenting with viewpoint going forward, something immediately obvious in the huge painting she is currently working on.

Having upped her output during lockdown, Eliza’s work started getting noticed on Instagram before she entered Sunset, Sunflowers and Shells into the RA’s Summer Exhibition.

After getting through the first two rounds, it was accepted and given pride of place on the wall. Eliza tells me the coolest part of showing at the R.A. was going to the artist’s private view.

‘It was pretty amazing. Going on my own meant I got the chance to speak to a lot of other artists. Hearing first hand from each artist what inspired their work felt really special.’ I comment she must have gathered a lot of interest from showing at the Royal Academy – ‘To an extent. Lots of people have emailed me for commissions, that’s one of the reasons I started making prints. More than anything, being in the show just gave me a lot more confidence as an artist, which has then driven me to make much more work.’

Eliza certainly has no reason to doubt herself as an artist. As well as the Summer Exhibition and her solo show at ‘The Anglesea Arms’, she is due to show at the Brick Lane Gallery’s ‘Contemporary Painting Exhibition’ over the second half of January.

And, with plans to head to Florence and develop her eye for pattern further, she’s certainly one to watch.

Eliza's upcoming exhibition at the Brick Lane Gallery runs from 18-30 January, with a private viewing 6pm-8.30pm on 18 Jan. 

Reporting by Will Bruce