Grace O'Connor American, b. 1974

American born artist, Grace O’Connor, came to the UK aged 16 with dreams of becoming an artist. She began by working as a set painter for the BBC on a variety of programmes including ‘The Performers’ and ‘Top of The Pops’, all the while focussing on producing her own work. Her drive and determination led her to become the winner of Young Artist of the Year as part of the Hunting Group prize in 1994, before studying at the Royal Academy School, 1996-1999.


Grace now works out of her studio in Bethnal Green. Her work has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2007), and her piece ‘Girl Fight’ was selected for the John Moores Painting Prize and then exhibited during the Liverpool Biennial (2014).  Her work My Mother and My Sister (2015) was selected for the BP portrait Award at the National Gallery, London.  Her work has been shown at The Drawing Room Biennial (2015), Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (2012) and previoulsy in the BP Portrait Award in 1998 and 2006. 


Grace’s American origins emerge in everything she paints. Her oil paintings draw out the past by articulating the fractured images that make up a moment seen in hindsight.  These reproductions of fanciful memories imply that subtle and seemingly arbitrary moments in time are often the ones that resonate the most. The hazy imprecision of the brushwork and often muted palette reflects the uncertainty of these memories, which often veer into the realm of imagination. O’Connor takes both loaded and mundane gestures (from a hand on a hip to the pulling up of a sock) as her subject, giving them equal weight in a narrative which blurs the line between reality and unreality.  O’Connor transforms mundane impressions of the everyday into views that are vaguely voyeuristic.