Sunday, 15 March 2009

Louisa Chambers talks to Articulated Artists on Friday, 13 March, at her current show Skyscrapers Under The Sea, Madame Lillies, London N16

AA: Louisa, do you use images as a starting point for your paintings?

LC: Well, a lot of it is taken from imagination. But I tend to get a lot of ideas from 1960s architecture, like Archigram and post-war. Usually, I play off personal experiences in the City but there might be some buildings that I'm interested in so I have a starting point and then I try and push away from that image as far as possible to create my own constructions or worlds or mind spaces.

AA: What is Archigram?

LC: Archigram was a British architectural group in the 1960s. Peter Cook and Ron Herron came up with these mad, different ideas to what was going on in architecture at the time, away from modernism, you know. Quite simple but bonkers ideas that were never actually realised. For instance, Ron Herron did this kind of walking city. They looked a bit like ants and they had eight massive legs and they were quite pop or comic book looking.

AA: Is there a time you can pinpoint when you became interested in architecture?

LC: I would say since I was in my teens. During my BA I became very interested in the suburban setting or playing back to past memories. I started painting roller coasters, and playgrounds, and structures that looked like they were going to fall apart; creating and inventing these shapes and putting them together and it started from that. I think at the Royal College I went a bit off the rails.

AA: Off the roller coaster rails?

LC: (laugh) yeah, off the roller coaster, and then it came back again and I realised, you know, what was I interested in, what were my primary concerns, what is this about.

AA: Your buildings look anthropomorphic. I was looking at that painting in particular with the pink ground. What is it called?

LC: Ah yes, "Foundations". Now, I was thinking again of temporary architecture. The Metabolist Movement were Japanese and they built a tower in Japan. They are modular constructions, like units that you build up and add on. I was thinking about trying to build my paintings and have these constructions coming out and they tend to become, yes, anthropomorphic. I try to play with that and create some sort of humour with it.

AA: The triangular pattern you've created in "Foundations" kind of reminds me of a geodesic dome structure, but collapsed and I was thinking of collapsing modernist utopias. Is that something you think about?

LC: Buckminster Fuller. Yes, I suppose I am interested in those kind of utopian ideas, like with Archigram. Everything seemed kind of sunny and optimistic but these utopias haven't worked. And, having my own experiences in the City perhaps rubs off on the work with a negative slant, perhaps, I don't know. I made some paintings of protective suits. I had a sort of fear of walking around the streets by myself and being female and I imagined if you had these suits on they could fire out things at people. I mean harmless things like paint or peas or something like that. So yeah.

AA: So you haven't always lived in a City?

LC: No, I originate from Northampton. Mostly I grew up in the countryside.

AA: I remember the work from your Royal College show and it looked quite gestural compared to these paintings. The actual handling of the paint is quite different.

LC: It was my first time living in London and I was really sensitive to what was going on around me; and everything being really fast. For some reason I think I felt that that was something I had to do with my work.

AA: Painting fast?

LC: Yes, I needed to get it out. So much so that at the end I started using acrylics because I enjoyed how fast the paint dried. But, to be honest, I think I'd lost who I was and what I was about. I'd just been to Latin America and I'd been blown away by Latin culture. I started getting interested in that, trying to be something else. But I think I needed to do that in order to get here.

AA: The marks in these paintings look confident. It's like you make a mark and that's it, it stays. Is that how you work. Do you paint over things?

LC: I do, but I often rub it out as well. So I work on it, if it doesn't work I rub it out, start again, paint over it. I think I've become more confident at that. I used to think that it must come out first time, first time, nothing else. But now I've learned to maybe have hits at it and if it's unsuccessful wipe it out and do it again.

AA: So keep at it until it works.

LC: Yeah, I'm being harder on myself I think.

AA: I was wondering how the drawings and paintings relate to each other. Do the drawings lead to paintings or are they something quite separate.

LC: They tend to play on both really. I've always found that drawing comes very naturally to me, on the bus or wherever. That's usually when ideas come. I draw something; a structure, an object, even a person and so I usually have that. And then I transform it into painting. But then, sometimes I do also create the drawings during painting. They could just be more successful than my paintings and so they play against each other.

Skyscrapers Under The Sea is at Madame Lillies Gallery, 10 Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington, London N16 6BD from 6-15 March 2009.

1 comment:

  1. enjoyed the interview. maybe have a look at