Deborah Mercer was born in Edinburgh and attended Musselburgh Grammar School before going on to follow her areas of interest; beginning in theatrical costume construction at Telford College, continuing her study in makeup artistry and more recently completing an Arts & Languages course. She is a mother of two and currently resides in the picturesque surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales.
From a very early age, Deborah had a keen interest in Classics, Design and Fine Arts. Inspired by the “unique and engaging” works of masters such as Renoir, Picasso and Dali – to name a very select few, she was often drawn to artists who demonstrated an ability to “create another world with their art.” Night classes at Edinburgh College of Art opened her eyes to the studio setting when she was just fourteen. Beginners Drawing and Life Drawing developed her skills and gave her a wealth of experience in working with models, her work was selected as presentation piece for the cover of the class prospectus.
She went on to produce work for galleries and commission pieces. Deborah found her unique style from very early on in her career. She suggests that it is more the way in which she envisions the world rather than an attempt to be purposefully unique, noting “I’ve always had my style, it developed in childhood. Creating simple shapes and forms, I discovered the beauty of the female body and the potential for exploring new expressionism by breaking the rules! I think because I wanted to be a woman and not a little girl anymore – I’ve always had my own way of doing things!”
Her work is recognised for its feminine tones and use of long sweeping lines and flowing curves to draw the viewers eye through the raw sensuality that often pours from her art. She remarks of her creations “I make them feminine, but in an exaggerated way. When people look at my work, I hope they are moved, I hope they wonder at my message or muse over who the subject might be. I hope that my work inspires them or, at the very least, encourages their eyes to wander.” The subject or content behind Deborah’s art has, from time to time, come into question; who or what do these paintings truly represent? When pressed on this, she simply smiles “I feel like women are fascinating subjects – there’s a cruelness behind their beauty; I like to distort and exaggerate their shapes, making them more interesting”.
However, with titles as intricate as the paintings themselves they can often offer an additional insight into the mind of the artist, “Some works are easier to title than others, this mainly happens when a piece is complete; some have no titles because the scene speaks for itself. For me, the titles demonstrate my love of language and a beautiful sentence. As a would-be poet, it’s hard not to express an emotion or an intention in the title, but I like to think they offer intrigue as much as make a suggestion.”
This later point of a “would-be-poet” is an important one to note. She has been known to write beautiful poetry, design elegant and striking fashion items and has herself confessed that “When I can’t paint or write, I find joy in playing with makeup, people don’t notice what you’re wearing half as much when your face is all jazzed up with bright colours. I’m not afraid of being different, my (currently) pink eyebrows get a lot of positive comments actually, I wear them fearlessly! I’m not really trying to be different in the way I present myself to the world, but it sort of happens because I can’t help being a bit weird! Quirky, you might say!”
It is in all aspects of her life that Deborah tries to bring excitement and theatrics through colour and design and this, more than anything, is what shows through in her work. So it is pleasantly surprising to find that, behind all the expression and ambition, there is still a young woman with an extremely humble outlook on the world around her: “I like to keep things real. My art is like dreaming – anything could happen. But as a person, I am so real sometimes that it’s painful. Keeping a level head matters. I find meditation calms me and I think any creative person needs that time of reflection and growth. It’s ever my philosophy that life carries on regardless, so you have to stop and take a moment to appreciate something beautiful, it could be the moment you find yourself.”