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Over the past two years, Art UK has started the new year with a rundown of the most exciting artists to follow on Instagram – a list that reflects works that have been recently acquired by UK public collections.

Keeping up the annual tradition, here is a list of ten artists we recommend you follow to brighten up your feed.

Toyin Ojih Odutola

The work of the Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola ranges from intricate, multimedia drawings to works on paper. Her fictionalised portraits are often rendered in charcoal, pastel, pen or pencil and offer the viewer a glimpse into an alternative universe, one in which Black figures take centre stage.

'Sadie' (Zadie Smith)

'Sadie' (Zadie Smith) 2018–2019

Toyin Ojih Odutola (b.1985)

National Portrait Gallery, London

The British novelist Zadie Smith has described Odutola as 'one of the most exciting young artists working today' and, between 2018 and 2019, Odutola captured Smith's portrait. The remarkable portrait, which belongs to the National Portrait Gallery, reveals the author sitting with her arms crossed before a map of Kilburn (where she was raised), against which shadows of palm trees can be detected – a symbolic reference to her Jamaican heritage.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Toyin OJIH ODUTOLA (@toyinojihodutola)

 

Camille Walala

The French designer and artist Camille Walala studied textile design at the University of Brighton before establishing Studio Walala in East London in 2009. Known for her colourful, geometric architectural designs, her work is inspired by the Memphis Group, an Italian design movement of the 1980s founded by Ettore Sottsass.

Captivated by Colour

Captivated by Colour 2020

Camille Walala

Adams Plaza, Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets

Captivated by Colour in Adams Plaza, Canary Wharf, was created for the first London Mural Festival in September 2020. Playing with the long perspective of the tunnel, the optical patterns appear to move – shrinking and elongating – as people pass through.

The artist's account @camillewalala, which displays recent projects – from publications to architectural designs – is just as colourful.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Camille Walala (@camillewalala)

 

Simon Roberts

The artist and photographer Simon Roberts is known for capturing the British social landscape in what has been described as 'Brueghel-like compositions.'

Woolacombe Bay, Devon, 24th May 2008

Woolacombe Bay, Devon, 24th May 2008 (edition 5/7) 2018

Simon Roberts (b.1974)

Great Ormond Street Hospital

His wide-format, landscape photography speaks to the lived experience of contemporary Britain, and typically captures densely populated public spaces – sites of shared experience, community and congregation. Between 2007 and 2008, he travelled across England in a motorhome with his family and a 5 x 4 inch camera, chronicling the urban and pastoral landscapes and often emphasising recreational activities of the British.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Simon Roberts (@simoncroberts)


Influenced by the American photographer Stephen Shore, who once travelled across the US to document scenes of everyday life, Roberts' documentation of the English landscape through photography aims to explore how such communal scenes shape 'ideas of national character'.


Rachel Jones

The artist Rachel Jones has described her own work as an 'exegesis of colour', and certainly, her work presents a vibrantly colourful palette of textured, abstract forms that collide with one another as a kaleidoscopic assemblage.

Allowing form to take on a metaphorical role, her paintings use 'motifs and colour as a way to communicate ideas about the interiority of Black bodies and their lived experience'. Expressive, intricate and pulsating with energy, the titles of her artworks – A Sliced Tooth, Red Shaped Mouths, and I'm Not So Clean – often reveal a wry connection with the corporeal.

lick your teeth, they so clutch

lick your teeth, they so clutch 2021

Rachel Jones (b.1991)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Her Instagram account @jo.nesr showcases her latest works and exhibitions.

 
 
 
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A post shared by jones (@jo.nesr)

 

Shawanda Corbett

The American performance artist, ceramicist and sculptor Shawanda Corbett was born with one arm and without legs – leading the artist to use her art as a way to express the realities of being disabled. Raised in Mississippi, she is currently completing her doctorate at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, where her conceptual practice utilises cyborg theory to explore questions about what defines 'a complete body'.

It Was Just Yesterday

It Was Just Yesterday 2021

Shawanda Corbett (b.1989)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Proposing a breakdown of the rigid boundaries between organic and synthetic, physical and non-physical, animal and human, cyborg theory envisions a transhumanist future in which technology can also subvert patriarchal and capitalist systems. In the artist's own words: 'What is a complete vessel? What is a complete body within performance? I see being a cyborg as using anything mechanical to enhance one's life – even just a pottery wheel.'

 
 
 
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A post shared by Shawanda (@cyborg_artist)


The artist's Instagram @cyborg_artist reveals her latest performances, sculptural works and exhibition openings.


Maria Bang Epersen

The Danish artist Maria Bang Epersen works with glass to create her distinctively amorphous, colourful and tactile sculptures. Transforming the hard material into soft and sensuous sculptures through glassblowing, Epersen's work is centred around the idea that 'all things are malleable – like glass – and that nothing can be permanently defined.'

Soft in White

Soft in White 2018

Maria Bang Espersen (b.1981)

Victoria and Albert Museum

By twisting, stretching and bending her glass structures, the works take on a soft and languid movement, one that draws the viewer in and challenges the typical function of glass as a utilitarian material.

 

Andrew Pierre Hart

The London-based artist Andrew Pierre Hart experiments with sound to create his distinctive dark-hued paintings, drawing upon his experience as a producer and musician. The symbiotic relationship between sound and painting lies at the heart of his practice, which the artist describes as 'rhythmic research'.

The Listening Sweet

The Listening Sweet 2021

Andrew Pierre Hart

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

For Hart, the central elements of music – tone, rhythm, gesture, composition – can also be translated to painting. And the perennial question underpinning the artist's work is: 'How can we talk about one thing through another?'

 
 
 
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A post shared by Andrew Pierre Hart (@hart.art9)

 

Rosanne Robertson

The Sunderland-born artist Rosanne Robertson is now based in West Cornwall, where they focus on multidisciplinary work including sculpture, drawing, performance and video. Central themes in their work include the human body and the environment, and how the two overlap and intersect with one another.

The Island

The Island 2020

Rosanne Robertson (b.1984)

The Hepworth Wakefield

Their first solo exhibition 'Subterrane' held at Maximillian William in London drew inspiration from the coastal landscapes of Cornwall, but also used the theme of 'subterrane' as a metaphor to consider the experiences and history of the LGBTQ+ movement, which once existed as underground subcultures.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Rosanne Robertson (@rosanne_robertson)

 

Caroline Walker

The Scottish artist Caroline Walker creates large-scale paintings that capture the experience of contemporary life, in particular, the experiences and labour of modern women.

Joy, 11am, Hackney

Joy, 11am, Hackney 2017

Caroline Walker (b.1982)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

Offering glimpses into quiet interior spaces, her paintings often frame the sitter through structures such as a doorframe or window, giving the works a candid and intimate feeling – as if the viewer plays the role of an undetected voyeur who has stumbled upon a private moment.  

 

Alejandra Carles-Tolra

The photographer Alejandra Carles-Tolra was born in Barcelona but now lives and works in London. Her photographic practice tends to follow the plight of young women in particular groups or societies, as reflected in series such as Fall In, which followed young female cadets, or the series The Bears, which portrayed women playing for Brown University's rugby team. 

Her series Where We Belong followed the footsteps of the 'Jane Austen Pineapple Society' a community of Jane Austen lovers who regularly meet up and socialise in Regency dress code.

Untitled, from the series 'Where We Belong'

Untitled, from the series 'Where We Belong' 2017

Alejandra Carles-Tolra (b.1988)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

'I explore how the sense of safety and belonging that specific groups might offer can empower the individuals and strengthen their own identity.'

 
 
 
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A post shared by Alejandra Carles-Tolra

 

If you're looking for more contemporary artists to follow on Instagram, you can also check out last year's story 'Ten artists to follow on Instagram in 2021.'

Lydia Figes, Content Editor at Art UK