Artist Trish Wylie made a name for herself when her love of painting and cinema – in particular the Western genre – merged in the form of large abstract canvases featuring horses and cowboys. BFI Media Teque curator Robin Baker has described her work as “…paintings melt into the films”. In recent paintings Wylie has portrayed herself as a Cowgirl, subverting the traditional cinematic male trope of Cowboys and putting a strong woman hero into the frame. Her most recent exhibition, ‘All The Pretty Horses’ with Jenny Blyth fine art in Oxford was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s Borderland Trilogy ‘All The Pretty Horses’.

Horses are a theme running through her work since Trish developed a love of TV Westerns as a child. Trish grew up in the 1960s and 1970s and shared a love of Western movies and games such as ‘Stallions’ with her older brothers. Her obsession with the Western genre and classics such as ‘The Magnificent Seven’, ‘How The West Was Won’, ‘The Misfits’ and the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, caught her imagination and infiltrated her paintings when she embarked on a career as an artist at the Camberwell School of Art, where she incorporated film and psychology into her fine art studies.  She spent 6 weeks on the West Coast of California, and ten days alone painting and drawing in the Mojave Desert on an artistic pilgrimage in 2019. 

Culturalee caught up with Trish Wylie to talk about her cultural highlights, inspirations, and a new portrait of Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte, commissioned by composer Martin Philpps, who scored Ridley Scott’s new film about the French emperor and military commander.  


Trish Wylie ‘Napoleon’, oil on canvas, 2023

Culturalee: How would you define ‘culture’?

Trish Wylie:  Culture – aside from the dictionary definition and beyond the basic human needs being met, is everything that makes life interesting and spurs us on to the next stage of development.

What was the starting point for your career as an artist?

TW: Winning the Millfield Open in 1992.

What has been your most moving cultural experience to date?

Watching the Palio Horse race in Sienna (Italy) in 1993.

What’s your greatest personal achievement as an artist?

To have kept working whether I was getting attention or not.

What’s your favourite artist/ book/ exhibition/ play/ film/ musician?

Artist: Faith Ringold.
Book: ‘A Year of Magical Thinking’ by Joan Didion.
Exhibition: Seven Deadly Sins, Chris Ofili at Victoria Miro.
Play: ‘All The Angels, Handel and the First Messiah’ by Nick Drake withSam Wanamaker at the Globe Theatre.
Film: ‘The Searchers’, directed by John Ford. 
Musician: Abel Selacoco.

Who are the cultural icons and artists that have inspired you most?

Joan Rivers, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Faith Ringold and Artemesia Gentileschi.

Any tips for young people wanting to break into the art world?

Make work in whatever medium, to keep your mind open and curious, your heart large, and your hands busy. Connect with people, go to events, private views, cultivate your own creative voice, experiment, and persevere, enjoy as much as you can and learn from those you respect. 

What project(s) are you currently working on?

I recently had a show at the Carey Blyth Gallery titled ‘All The Pretty Horses’, and I’ve been commissioned to paint a portrait of Joaquin Phoenix from the film ‘Napoleon’ directed by Ridley Scott, for the film composer Martin Phipps.


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