Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Notes on a guest lecture by Liz West, University of Huddersfield, Wednesday 18th of January 2017

Liz West introduced herself as an installation artist. She talked about her own journey, and explained that she was now 10 years out of art school, having attended the Glasgow School of Art between 2004 to 2007.

Liz explained that her initial work seem to be of superficial interest during her first and second years, but she then began to flourish in her final third year and started to explore the work of Ian Davenport, especially his paintings and paint drips. This was of interest to Liz because of the changing glossiness and wetness of the paintings rather than the finished article. Liz seemed to be captured by the changing nature and the temporal nature of the paint during its transition from wet to dry and it was not the pigment itself that she was interested in, but how the light played and how it was reflected in itself.

Her tutors recognised that she was "super-sensory" and had an inherent need to touch and feel, to get qualitatively immersed into her artistic environment. In fact she had indeed grown up in an environment that was very artistic as both parents were professional artists too.

The real break occurred when she used a mirrored chamber to present works based on the primary colours of light. However she then went into a phase where she didn't do any real work for the next 3 to 4 years having done a number of jobs but eventually quit as a security guard and then moved to Manchester in 2011. At this time she got studio space at the Rogue Studios in Manchester and this allowed her to exhibit some further works at these Manchester galleries such as "Difference is Important" (2012). In this work vivid chemical colours were used in a fully immersive environment for a spectator.

In Liz's own words the key to all practice is "just keep making shit" and also start writing about it!

The blog is a great vehicle to get the critique scenarios and invite discussions and as a professional artist outside of university you no longer have access to peer review and critiques.

Liz explained that if you get good feedback from exhibitions and blogs then it's worthwhile to try and invite curators and other artists into your own studios to allow them to critique your work. Don't be afraid of paying their expenses in order to get them onto your premises.

David Batchelor is a key influence on Liz's works.

After having become independent in 2012, she then it rather a brick wall and as a result spent a week in the Kurt Schwitters "Mertz barn" located in Cumbria, in 2014, as a way to engage with herself in deep contemplation. During that productive week, she broke her component of interest down into what was key to her. She constantly asked herself why she would do something, artistically, and then reflecting upon it, and then asking herself "why" again. Repeating the cycle of creating work, then reflecting, then asking "why" is essential as a cycle of iterative improvement.

In 2015, on impulse, she put together an instant relation in an area where she found a 10,000 foot office site which was part of the old Manchester Co-op building (Federation House).

This led to the invitation by Leeds City Council to assist with the "leads right night" however in hindsight she felt that this was a mistake, because she failed to specify the need for a very large space in order for the exhibition to take place. What she got was 1000 ft.², whereas what she needed in order to repeat the Co-op building installation was 10,000 ft.².

Thankfully though somebody spotted it and this was enough to win a commission to create a piece of installation in Bristol. This commenced in 2016 and was called "One Colour". This was so successful, that 3500 people attended on the last day to that exhibition. This essentially launched her career.

There have been other exhibitions in between however such as in 2015 "An Additive Mix" together with "Through Number One" which was exhibited at Derek Horton's "And Model" gallery. For this work she used gelatine lighting film, which she sourced from the company Roscoe.

More recently she has been using dichroic glass and film to generate ideas and outcomes in order to make her final pieces. For example "Our Spectral Vision (2016)" and now her new permanent work called "Sevenfold, 2016" installed that Bury council offices.

To look at more work by Liz West visit www.Liz-West.com or alternatively her Twitter feed @LizWest_art.

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