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Your Space Or Mine

Magda Archer’s Is It Over Yet?

She’s been called a Queen of contemporary kitsch. Magda Archer is a painter, printmaker and occasional musician. Inspiration for her artwork comes in many forms: her collection of toys, tins, children’s books, novelty lamps, religious votives and endless cuttings from magazines and printed ephemera.

Chance happenings in Archer’s daily life also spark ideas: a scribbled note or list that blows across her path in the park; a childhood rhyme or song lyric that returns unexpectedly to mind; the shit things that happen as well as the often-underappreciated everyday pleasures such as dogs, sunshine, bird song and boxes of Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells.

Her cutesy imagery is often cut, however, with an altogether opposing sentiment. That is, the world is sick. Archer often combines delighting, toothsome motifs with hand-painted words that come from the pit of the stomach. Her painting of a lamb, pink bow for a collar with its shiny black hooves frolicking amidst tulips, hibiscus and violets coupled with the phrase ‘My Life Is Crap’ is one example. Then there’s the orange-eyed, pale lilac kitten on a pink ground, an imploring image with an imploring phrase rendered in sunny yellow to go with it, ‘Text Me Yeah?’ A special favourite is a chalky white blancmange with a pinky-red jelly topping set against a grey background. This wobbly dessert is top and tailed with the words ‘Thank God,’ and ‘I’m Normal.’ Archer’s work draws the viewer in through a delighting image and at the same time talks of human frailty and random cruelties, neediness, fear and self-delusion that visit all of us.


Words by Adrian Burnham

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