ART MATTERS: Spotlight on Tori Day

January 31, 2022

This month I am very happy to introduce you to Brighton-based artist Tori Day who is very much enamoured by the challenge and disciple of the still life genre. Tori has explored the potentials and limits that it can offer, the ways that it can be used to connect that bit more urgently with the observer stood in front of them.

Tori paints the overlooked objects that are so easily ignored and looked past, the humble nature of such everyday things that she feels drawn to and fascinated by. Each object wearing the marks of their past with pride, the accumulated dents, scratches, chips, careworn and proud of your sporadic rust.

Although her paintings appear to solely belong to the tradition of still life, Tori prefers to think of her works as each being portraits of things. She spends a great deal of time positioning and lighting the objects to bring out the personality which she has seen within them. Each carefully celebrated via the painterly process required, their unknown history and the generations of unseen hands through which they have passed through, having managed to survive despite their apparent ordinariness. Objects that might be about to divulge all their secrets about every when, what, and who, that has been associated with them over their manufactured lives.

The small scale of her paintings effectively and subtlely echoes the quiet domestic subject matter they seem most at home at, slowly and cautiously drawing the viewer in closer, so that they might feel just as intrigued as she is by the objects which have been so carefully and considerately recorded.

Tori paints in oils on canvas or wooden panel, always preferring to work directly from life to gain a truer realisation of their appearance . Her influences include Dutch still life painters of the seventeenth century, as well as Chardin, Cotán, Manet, Morandi, Zurbarán, as well as more contemporary practitioners whose work is also equally concerned with the concept and relevance of the overlooked in a world busy with bright flashy empty distractions.

Her repeated use of byproducts of our consumerist fast culture, allowing the painted records to be more timeless than what initially inspired them. The instantly recognisable visage of a South Park Kenny figurine, the apparently normality of bottles, jugs, funnels, the reflective surfaces of silver, copper and glass, the infinite variety available in the deluge of CD album design. Nothing is off limits if it connects with the artist and her creative impulse to make them that bit more memorable than would be expected in daily life.

Her work has been acquired by private collections throughout the UK, and further afield in Europe, the US, Canada and South Africa. I am sure they will enter further collections across the globe, their quiet presence something that grows and doesn’t wither away.