Oli Kellett is an artist based in Hastings, UK. He graduated from Central St. Martins Graphic Design course in 2005 and spent the following few years working as an Art Director at a number of London’s leading advertising agencies. Since 2008, he has dedicated himself to exploring the urban setting. Using his large format camera, Kellett travels America to transform the everyday into spectacular beauty. Working only with available natural light, Oli patiently waits until people, place, and light all fall into place.
Oli’s major body of work, Cross Road Blues, commenced in 2016, borrows its title from the legendary song by Delta Blues musician Robert Johnson. According to legend, Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads outside of Memphis and sold his soul in exchange for his musical talents. He was forever plagued despite his success. The mythology surrounding Johnson’s song can be interpreted as a cautionary tale of the price paid for the American Dream, and Kellett’s allusion to it leaves the viewer wondering if the figures in his photographs chose their souls or their dreams at their crossroads.
Crossroads are a democratic place. We all have to wait. On average, we will spend five years ‘waiting’ during our lifetime. Being held at a ‘DON’T WALK’ sign allows us a few seconds, and occasionally minutes, to ask ourselves ‘Where do we come from?’ and ‘Where are we going?’
At the 2018 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Oli Kellett was awarded the Rose Award for Photography and the Arts Club Award. He was recently awarded the Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibition 161 Bronze Prize and, in 2021, he was awarded Aesthetica Art Prize.
Between 2020 and 2021, Oli worked on a series called ‘Life Drawings’. The photographs from the series capture the circular marks found on the inside of a cups or bowls, collected over many years. He explains: “Each mark created in a split second, interested me and I wondered if there was a way of lifting these marks off the three dimensional cups and bowls and onto paper they would make interesting ‘drawings’ alluding to the idea of ‘The eternal in transitory’ as Baudelaire described it in The Painter of Modern Life."
The circle is considered the most universal of all basic shapes. With no beginning or end, its form is associated with The Eternal and the Divine. In Zen Buddhism the hand drawn circle represents Enlightenment and it’s believed the circle can’t be explained, only experienced by one who has achieved emptiness of the mind.