Rachel Louise Hodgson’s drawings break from the ordinary. Their bright, sickly colours unsettle the viewer, challenging traditional conceptions of beauty. Rachel initially studied fashion photography at The London College of Fashion; where she tells It’s Nice That, “the teachers never understood my work, I stuck out and received a terrible grade”.
Influenced heavily by outsider artists such as Henry Darger, Rachel engaged with creatives who were simply “making stuff because they had this compulsive feeling that they had to”. Her oil pastel drawings retain the naive quality of a self-taught artist, and it’s this child-like essence that she holds on to. “I want to push against this concept of having to become an adult,” Rachel explains. Art is something she feels “she has to do,” and because she struggled with other subjects at school, it was always something she stuck with.
However, since pursuing a postgraduate scheme with The Royal Drawing School, Rachel has started to address themes that were "previously unconscious” to her, humorously describing tutorials as “a scary therapy session”. Whereas before, she drew images crudely from her imagination, she’s now “forced to sit down and draw things properly”. This approach has pushed her work in new and exciting directions.
Rachel describes how she has come to accept that “death is a theme she’s interested in”; an important subject suppressed by everyone. In a dream, Rachel once found herself in the afterlife, surrounded by “thick air” and “bright colours” and it’s this image that she returns to in her work. Rachel’s pieces are all about strangeness; they often feature self-portraits, where she puts herself in uncomfortable and awkward positions asking “what is ugly? Anything that is considered ugly, I find beautiful. We need more unusual depictions of women”. In a world of idealised, photoshopped images of females, her portraits make a refreshing change.
Having been an original contributor of Rookie and having collaborated continuously with Polyester Zine, Rachel is now looking to curate exhibitions of her own. She aims to bring together her favourite artists from the internet by putting them into a real space and encouraging them to meet.