Esther Maxwell Orumbie, Unnamed, 2019

Artist of the month: Esther Maxwell-Orumbie

In this new blog series we will explore the work of a Bethlem Gallery artist each month, starting with featured artist Esther Maxwell-Orumbie. 

Maxwell-Orumbie uses linocut printing, drawing and textiles to create works. She explores ideas of displacement and mental health, how we adapt culturally and socially to new countries, and the impact of such change on ourselves. The cultures of the world influence her, however her foundations are strongly influenced by the African diaspora and memories of her childhood. 

Maxwell-Orumbie prints featured here were printed in the Bethlem Royal Hospital’s Occupational Therapy Arts Studios, as part of our former Saturday Studio sessions. Her most recent exhibition with Bethlem Gallery was Transitionswhich showed in 2020 and was created in collaboration with the Mother and Baby Unit, Bethlem Royal Hospital. The show looked at identity and the everyday, framed by the complex challenges experienced during the transition to motherhood. Esther worked with service users and staff to create lino and mono prints inspired by the ordinary artefacts and occupations of individuals’ past and present lives.  

In a recent conversation Maxwell-Orumbie noted: 

“I love to create. As a mental health patient it is important for my wellbeing. I wouldn’t feel as whole as I do if I didn’t create. It’s a measure of my identity.” 

She explained that she wants everybody to be able to enjoy art, not just people who can afford to buy it. She believes in wearable art, she’d like to have her drawings printed onto silk scarves. Ultimately she wants her own work to be simple, inexpensive and beautiful. 

Esther’s artworks have inspired this month’s Linocut Printing Workshop with artist Beth Hopkins. Find out more here

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