Interview with Ms. Lily Lewis

Hello Lily, please tell us about yourself and what your background is?

Hi MM! I am an artist based out of London, but I move around a lot. When I was younger my family split it’s time between two or three bases, so I’m not used to spending too much time in one place. Now that I'm older I try to spend at least 4 months of the year somewhere new; I'll do research and development into an idea and then go to wherever the concept takes me to get to the root of it, and then plan an exhibition to showcase the work after. This year with COVID has changed that a bit.

What sort of art do you do?

Hahaha this question is always a tough one. It's so easy to use all these long words that the art world loves to use to try to ‘elevate and isolate’. I think they do it to try to justify themselves, but all it really does is alienate people. So I'll try and say it without sounding like a wanker; I'm a ‘figurative’ (I paint/draw/sculpts things the way I think they look) ‘conceptual’ (basically the painting/drawing/sculpture comes from an idea or question and research into that idea as opposed to painting a scene or moment), ‘surrealist’ (the ‘things’ aren't quite where they should be). Did I do it? How wanky did that sound?

I also write poetry and perform my poems and stand up. By that I mean I perform my poems standing-up, and make myself laugh in between.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

When I was little my father would tell me about all the Greek and Roman myths and legends. I grew up with a deep love and respect for narrative; how allegory & story direct societies, from religious tracts to fairytales. That and an academic rather than arts-based background influences my work every day. The list of artists whose work inspires me is endless. I look at a De Chirico or Dali, Maritzio Catellan, Paula Rego and half of me goes “Well, THAT'S done. I'll never paint again! I renounce the brush and canvas game. I'll just look lovingly at this for the rest of my life” and the other half wants to walk, no, run to the studio and be fed intravenously so as to not waste precious painting time with silly things like eating. Breathings ok, I can multitask.

The lives and work of artists like Agnes Martin, Leonora Carrington, Kusama Yayoi, Hilma af Klint and Louise Bourgeois continue to fire me up and on, also all of them struggled with mental health issues which is a cause very close to my heart and practice. Although it does annoy me that the still predominantly testosterone driven art world has only recently allowed in work from women who weren’t declawed and insured by being either old, insane, or discovered then covered by a man... Max ernst (Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning), Diego Rivera (Frida Khalo), Jackson Pollock (Lee Krasner)... I'm talking to you.

I don't mention these artists because they’re women and so their work needs a separate stage for comparison