Olivia Irvine

2022 QEST Anthony and Elizabeth Mellows Charitable Settlement Scholar - Fresco Painting
East Lothian

Olivia is an artist using a variety of materials including oil painting, collage and ancient techniques such as egg tempera and fresco. She has studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, University of Madrid (Complutense) and the Winchester School of Art in Barcelona. With a studio in Edinburgh she has been working as an artist since 1986 and has become more and more devoted to the contemporary application of the traditional craft of fresco. Olivia is one of only a handful of contemporary fresco painters practising in the UK, and she is keen to integrate these traditional techniques into her artistic practice and pass them on through teaching.

QEST funding will enable Olivia to do a bespoke programme of study, developing her fresco painting skills and her understanding of the medium. She will undertake one-on-one training with Isabelle Bonzom, a world-leading fresco artist, looking at the preparation of interior and exterior walls, plastering, design transfer, and a variety of painting techniques on the fresh lime plaster. She will also undertake a course with the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, attend L’Art de la Fresque, in Abbaye Saint Jacut de la Mer, Brittany, go on a study visit to Rome and Naples, including a masterclass with strappo expert, Patricia Gioia, and finally, attend a one-to-one course in contemporary fresco, with Carey Mortimer at Art School Bosa, Sardinia.

Fresco is the only painting method that doesn’t use a binder. During painting, the damp lime plaster reacts with the air and locks in the pigment, making it an integral part of the wall. It feels like magic.