Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe it. Olivia Kemp’s detailed pen drawings are utterly breathtaking. Working exclusively with pen and ink (with no pencil sketch underneath), Kemp constructs imaginary landscapes (that are sometimes surreal and most often – expansive), bit by bit.
“I draw in order to make sense of landscape but also to construct and re model it,” writes the British draughtswoman in a statement on her website. “I build worlds and imaginary places that grow out of a need to interpret the sites that I have known, expanding and developing them across a page. This encompasses everything, from the visions of a grand landscape right down to the details of the land, the plants and creatures that may inhabit it.”
According to Kemp, a small work can take half a day to complete whereas her largest pieces can take up to six months or more. Inspired by films, literature, travels, art, and imagination, each piece begins with a simple idea from which she builds upon.
“I never really know what the work will look like,” admitted Kemp in an interview with MJCarty, “I think they are too big and too detailed to be able to foresee it all before making it. I have a vague idea – like ‘a forest of treehouses’ – then I just run with it taking each day as it comes.”
But according to Kemp, the final piece isn’t meant to make sense. “I suppose they are places devoid of people, sprawling and illogical,” she reflected. “The longer you look at them the less and less sense they make. The detail makes it all hang together, believable only for a moment.”
Her advice to other aspiring creatives? Draw something you’re truly interested in, but don’t spend too long wondering about that, or things never get made, “just crack on”, she says. Scroll down to see some of her work: