Sophie Smallhorn is a London based artist who’s work sits somewhere between art and design. Known for the strong use of colour within her work and her specific colour palettes, Sophie was commissioned to create a very special work for the Olympics that involved wrapping the gargantuan Olympic stadium in a riot of colour. Inspired by the colours associated with the Olympic rings and the flags of the 204 countries participating, Sophie has transformed the monochrome structure into a dynamic piece of architecture. Here she tells us about her work, inspirations, and what it was like working on such a large scale project.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I made furniture at college and was definitely on the design path but the sculptural pieces started to evolve initially made from offcuts from the furniture projects. I certainly didn’t set out to be an artist but it’s a very good place to be now.

Was colour something you were always fascinated by?
My mum was a textile designer so I was brought up with quite a lot of colour around and ever since college my work has centered around colour. I like the endless possibilities of it and the idea that you can make a seemingly ‘difficult’ colour work within a piece; In fact it’s essential to work with the tricky colours otherwise a composition can just be too safe.

What are you most proud of in your work?
I am very proud of the Olympic project because of the scale and idea that the colour will influence the way in which visitors will interact with the building. Apart from that I just feel proud and very lucky to be working and making a living from creating things.

Which designer or artist do you admire most for their colour sensibility?
I think Sauerbruch + Hutton architects have created some amazing buildings using colour ingeniously. And Japanese textile designer Mina Perhonen whose books I dip into often

Where would you like to apply your work next? 
I am currently working on a glass canopy which will be installed in Victoria in London. It uses glass enamel screen printed colours and I hope will create a beautiful covered public space. I am also starting out on a commission to make a large hanging mobile which I am particularly excited about.

What was the biggest challenge about the Olympic project?
The biggest challenge was dealing with the politics involved in this type of project. One of the best parts was watching the stadium being built and working with Populous the architects because they allowed me a lot of freedom to play.

See more of Sophie’s work here.

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