We are pleased to present ‘Muse’, an exhibition that looks at how artists find inspiration and focus in a world saturated with visual stimuli. The show features the work of two contemporary painters: Gill Button and Sikelela Owen.

Gill Button’s paintings draw from the constant stream of images that flash before us in the media. Her muses are fashion icons or fleeting glimpses of models which she then interprets with a fluid, gestural style. Echoes of recognition and subtle studies of patterns hint back to her source material, but there is something much more personal in Gill’s work. Appropriated images become invested with feelings; portraits of strong identities are tempered with the fragility of fame. Gill uses the public eye as a frame through which to channel emotional identification so that her works become less about the subject, and more a question of the emotional makeup of the image, and of how the viewer gives them meaning.

In contrast, Sikelela Owen’s subjects are as close as they can be: images of family and friends, of domestic life, of moments of rest and relaxation. Both in her choice of subject and in her use of paint, Sikelela strips away all external noise and focuses only on what matters in a kind of emotional essentialism. This dedication to intimacy lends her paintings a sense of strength, as if through searching for the precious in the everyday, Sikelela traces the shape of something subtly empowering. This is work in which a domestic muse is used to provoke a very different response in her viewer: one of identification not with the image, but with the special sense of community and the family ties that the paintings imply.