Working under the moniker of Unskilled Worker, the London-based, self-taught artist rose to prominence via her hugely successful Instagram account.
Drawing upon a broad spectrum of influences, her evocative work has an intimate quality that draws the viewer into a highly atmospheric world of childlike innocence, suggestive of darker times.
Sharing her work online, she was discovered by the celebrated photographer Nick Knight, who commissioned her in 2014 to create a series of portraits. Knight described the artist’s work as “some of the most intensively beautiful and poetic painting I have come across.” Her collaborations with Knight attracted a great deal of interest, and in 2015 the artist was commissioned by the Italian fashion house Gucci to make a series of portraits for exhibition at the Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai.
In 2016, a specially commissioned portrait by the artist was featured as a limited-edition cover of Bazaar Art alongside six leading contemporary female artists, including Etel Adnan, Rachel Feinstein, Sarah Morris, Cornelia Parker, Celia Paul and Taryn Simon. In 2017 Gucci continued its collaboration with the artist by launching a collection featuring her artwork.
Her distinctive style of painting has attracted extensive critical acclaim and has appeared in many international publications, including Artnet, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Dazed, Harper’s Bazaar, i-D, and China’s Art Trade Journal . AnOther Magazine wrote of the artist “ Downie’s paintings depict fantastical scenes; she draws references from Tudor and Renaissance imagery, lending a lavishness to her characters so that they both dominate the canvas and appear simultaneously confined within their frames.”
Since 2016 the artist’s work has supported charities such as The Shuktara Trust, ISTANBUL 74’s work with Maya Foundation’s Project Lift; a charity project that rehabilitates traumatised children through art therapy, Women for Women International, Shape Arts, a disability-led arts organisation that is committed to end the marginalisation of disabled people in the arts and Hospital Rooms, an arts and mental health charity that commissions artworks for NHS mental health inpatient units across the UK
The artist’s paintings are highly sought after, collected nationally and internationally and have been exhibited at galleries across the world including London, Hong Kong, Seoul, Madrid, Tokyo and Shanghai.
New York Times
Art Trade Journal China
The Times and The Sunday Times
i –D Magazine
Modern Weekly China
Business of Fashion: BoF
A Magazine Curated By
South China Morning Post