'Bushfire I', 2019 © Ren Condry
6 x 8 in, oil on board

Student Spotlight: Ren Condry, Falmouth Materials Prize 2019
December 17, 2019
The latest student to be featured in our Student Spotlight series is painter Ren Condry of Falmouth University, recipient of a £1,000 Materials Prize awarded by ACS at Falmouth University in 2019.

Over the course of the past year, ACS was able to partner with more institutions than ever before to award a record £33,750 in educational bursaries and prizes to students throughout the UK.

Find out more about how Condry's approach to oil painting, and how the artist will use the Materials Prize to help support the development of her work ahead of her final degree show in 2020.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Cinematic, atmospheric, silky.


Q. What does winning the ACS/Falmouth Materials Prize mean for you as an artist?


It’s very exciting and motivating to have won the Materials Prize and to be able to afford to create the works that I had envisioned for this year. Having a successful degree show at the end of this is a huge cause of anxiety and so being able to really push the finish of my paintings up over the coming months is key. With the prize money, I intend to invest in better quality materials as well as being able to afford to sustain the size of the works I create over my final year.


Being able to afford better quality paints and brushes really does make a difference in the overall finish of a painting.

Being able to create a successful body of work this year will allow me far more confidence to take into the future after completing my degree.


‘Oil Rig Fire’, 2019 © Ren Condry
6 x 8in, oil on board


Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


I work with oil paint on canvas, often on a large scale. I also make a lot of small oil sketches on paper to inform these larger pieces.


I love the challenge of working on a larger scale, as well as the dynamics between the larger and smaller works I create. I feel that oils allow me the breadth of experimentation and ability to create depth that I need within my work.


The paint itself is such an important part of my work: the way it acts if I allow it to take control and drip or bleed into other areas of the canvas, the layers and experiments with opacity/translucence, the richness of colours I can create as well as the physical action of painting. Paint itself is sensual and so it feels only right to celebrate this.


Fragment of ‘Bushfire’, 2019 © Ren Condry
6 x 8in, oil on board


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


Mostly source material – the colour and effects present within the video stills I use are intriguing due to their age and how they have decayed over time. My work itself is about narrative and how this is affected by the source material.


I am interested in the action of disrupting the narrative of a film through taking a still from it, and what effect painting this image – elevating this tiny moment to something more than it was intended – has on this.


I look through a lot of painting books, particularly of contemporary painters, and I also love going to gallery shows as seeing works in the flesh is so exciting: looking at how they are layered and built up as well as the true fullness of the paint.


Q. Take us through your working process.


I begin by selecting still images I have taken from old video footage uploaded onto internet archives and making small oil sketches. These sketches focus on the composition and tones present within the stills and how well they translate into paint. After I find an image that works well as an oil sketch, I decide whether it would work on a larger scale, and from that I then begin working onto a larger canvas (often approx. 130x170cm).


I’m experimenting a lot at the moment with glazes and different ways of building up depth, colour and translucency which I am really enjoying. I really like playing with paint and allowing it to have its own voice within my work, allowing brushmarks to be visible is key to this.


‘Wildfire’, 2019 © Ren Condry
130 x 170cm, oil on canvas


Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


As part of my Art A-Level I painted the first paintings I’d ever done that I spent a lot of time and thought on. My art teacher gave me some oil paints and a glossy medium to use and I ended up making a diptych of two A2 sized canvases of layered bodies. The first was really translucent skin tones on a bright blue background where I slowly built up glazed layers, and the second was the same image but in opaque blues creating some kind of morphed form on an orange background.


I was really interested in Jenny Saville’s work at the time and so the idea of painting flesh was something exciting to me – being given oil paints to use for the first time and seeing how well they conveyed this both in terms of colour and texture was amazing.


Find out more about Ren Condry on her website and follow her latest work on Instagram.