Artist spotlight: Maddy Butcher
Maddy’s goal is to see street art become less of a taboo subject in the UAE…
Maddy Butcher is one of UAE’s most popular street artists. Her creations can be seen all over the country at hotels, lounges, and art festivals. Originally from the UK, Maddy moved to the UAE from New York in 2011 in search of ‘more adventure’. She was working in advertising up until 2016, when she decided to solely focus on art.
“[In the UAE], everyone is free to go after every opportunity they find, without preconceptions,” she tells us. “It’s where I’ve grown as a person and grown to understand other nationalities and cultures that I would never have had the chance to in a city like New York.”
Since then, Maddy’s popularity has grown immensely, receiving requests for everything from private works to huge murals in public spaces. Colourful, abstract pieces make up her style as well as big, bold intricate portraits with energetic themes. But it’s not just the UAE that has fallen in love with Maddy’s creativity; her street art can be found across New York, London, Barcelona and even north India.
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When we sit down to chat to her, Maddy clarifies that she is a street artist, not a graffiti artist. For most graffiti artists, Maddy Butcher anonymity is synonymous with their passion for the artform.
“When it comes to street art, it should be much more than a pretty picture outside on walls,” she tells us. “It has to react to and serve the place that it’s in to make it better.” While progress is moving in the right direction, Maddy’s goal is to see street art become less of a taboo subject in the UAE. She hopes to inspire women to start picking up spray paint cans to express themselves. “Graffiti is seen as a boy’s club and there’s truth in that, but street art should really be the equalizer,” she explains.
In Abu Dhabi, her most notable piece is Noodley Jazz at Abu Dhabi Zayed Port. The long mural features a combination of abstract work and portraiture. The people in the mural, Maddy points out, are “real people with real expressions, plenty of colour, inclusivity and fluid joy”.
Projects can sometimes take a couple of weeks to complete, from concept to approvals, then refining the preferred design before using scaffolding or a hydraulic lift to paint the wall. In terms of tools, Maddy uses pens, ink, spray paint, masking tape and stencils, although is seeing more of a need for a projector as her pieces get bigger. “My most recent eight-floor piece on Yas Island was done without a projector and that was not smart – we probably lost at least three days – [I was] high up on scaffolding, trying to mark things up with string and masking tape – thankfully my assistant Pete was an engineer [previously].
Discover all of Maddy’s street art at @maddybutcher
Images: Maddy Butcher