Humans interfering, and a collage

We don’t tread lightly, as we walk this earth, as humans. I live in England, where very few pieces of landscape are untouched. Constable painted Dedham lock and mill. That sort of intervention in the landscape would not have been new to him. The mill belonged to his father. Constable is a famous English painter.

I found a framed print of this painting next to a bin as it started to rain. I took it home, out of the rain. To my scrappy rented room where most of the furniture I live with stood next to similar bins before I took it in after an unplanned lockdown move. A lot of my life’s practicalities now comes with the serendipity of what I find, what others pass on, as I pass on what I don’t need. Most of our lives have these two movements, it just isn’t always as obvious as an Amazon order as we negotiate and renegotiate our giving and taking with our surroundings.

I’m a collage artist. Probably not a coincidence with that way of being in the world. Dedham Lock and Mill is huge, and it had a water stain from the bin sojourn. I recognize the artistry, and it is not my style. Now that it found me, it needed taking into 2022. It starts with a lush English landscape, that then got a mill and lock, which might or might not have been controversial, and which likely benefitted the few more so than the many. Constable painted the scenery, that’s how we know how it looked like, or rather, how he saw it, channelled through his hands. And now we are looking at Lior’s next iteration, how I see it, channelled through my hands. A snapshot of what happened since Constable, and what still hasn’t changed.

Dedham Mill Redevelopment. Mixed media collage from 2022, by Lior Locher

The backyard of the mill got industrialized and gobbles up energy far beyond the waterwheel. The grandkids of these mill owners now likely own investments in alternative energy, as do I. The church tower is crowned by science, the Atomium cut from a banknote no longer in circulation, from a city representing a Europe England no longer belong to. The main building got done up with more money than sense of style. The meadow is a housing estate or somesuch, also from an old banknote for where else would it have come from.

Step by Step walkthrough here:

Brief overview of some of the key collage elements

There’s always overlords. Waiting next to the newly done-up house with its roaring lions upfront, and its viewing terrace. Others are arriving by boat. And the people bow, show their reverence. What else can you do. We all want a piece of the pie, if there is one going. We all want a roof over our heads, and we all consume more than our fair share of energy, let’s be honest. And it’s still largely the luck of the birth lottery where and how you live, and what chances that gets you. We don’t make good choices, we have good choices. Or not so much. In England, the socioeconomic gap is widening again. It shouldn’t be like that.

This is 2022. With a new mixed-media collage called “Dedham Mill Redevelopment”.

Dedham Mill Redevelopment – detail

Trying things out

Today, I spent a lot of hours trying to make an idea happen. It didn’t work (and I tried it a few different ways). It looked absolutely URGH, and I mean urgh in a way that you can’t even rip up and re-collage.

The consolation is now I know that that isn’t a path to pursue, and certainly not with the materials I tried this with.

Just thought I’d post about that side of things too. This happens a lot more than the “and then magically it all came together” bit.

#honesty

I see faces

I used to leave a little knitted self-portrait every time I went to a new place (mainly in the US when I lived there). Now that travel is back, I’ve restarted the habit. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, and in other bits of the UK…

It’s lovely to have that back, and to walk around a place with the lens of where to put this, what good surroundings are… More examples here and a bit of reflection here.

(and with the latest 2, I need to fix the glue situation, clearly not strong enough…)  

6 month reflection point

Just picked up 2 pictures I got professionally framed, to then deliver it to a gallery on Thursday for an upcoming exhibition.

I can’t believe I’m writing this.

I started playing around with making art in 2019, on-and off, joining a few drop-in classes above the local art shop. Then started making art in earnest during the winter break 2021/22 when I couldn’t travel and time was long and dark.

6 months later art is the key focus of my attention and time (outside of my day job). I have a regular practice and learn every day. I have good chunks of time to make art where I get stuck in, experiment. More and more comfortable showing up with my work. When I say I am an artist, I mean it.

I had my 44th birthday in March and decided to make 44 pieces for it (and then show up with them). It felt like an absurdly high number when I set the goal. I ended up with over 60 pieces and I sold enough of them to go on holiday for my birthday, which was the treat I needed after 2 immensely bleak years. Turns out, I’m still able to totally surprise myself, and that feels fantastic.

By making art, I can get into all the spaces I don’t seem to get into with words. I have less and less to say with words right now, but the art nails it.

I sell work (and not just to friends), and, as I’m writing this, I’ve been in 4 magazines and 1 online exhibition, and a live exhibition coming with 2 of my pieces.

Things are happening.

It’s emotional in all sorts of ways I’m still feeling my way into.

Things are happening. It means the world.

Opus 1

This is the first thing I made. In a drop-in class at the local art shop. We made the papers, then cut them up. All of that was new to me. I immediately loved both parts of the process. It felt so much more natural than what I remembered from art class in school.

My very first piece of art. Still under my old name.

The motif is quaint and traditional, a flowerpot on a table. I didn’t know what else to do and I loved playing around with the leaf and flower shapes, positive and negative. Also, I’m a total house plant fiend so that also made sense.

Looking at it now I love the different steps, abstract, figurative, collage… All of which are things I still use. Opus 1 (of many) started something.

Showing up

I turned 44 this year, and decided to create 44 pieces of art for that birthday and to then show up with them in public.

I had less than 3 months to do the pieces. It felt like a huge task but I wanted to aim high to get me into actual DOING, to get the practice in and to force myself to make regular space for making art in my life in a way I can sustain beyond short bursts. I ended up doing well over 60 when my birthday came (still creating more). Ambition is good. Once the creative streak was uncorked and I made the time, it flowed and works started appearing, as did a productive regular routine of creating.

I decided to do an online exhibition by sharing works on my instagram and twitter and by creating a page to direct people to that listed works and prices for the month of the sale. While that probably wasn’t the smoothest of user experiences, it was free and quick to set up, it got stuff out and it got stuff sold, and it got me a few conversations and connections that continue.

I also started to submit work (not on insta etc) to magazines and online exhibitions. Turns out, a lot of the magazines that were never interested in my writing are very much interested in my art. There might be a message in there… And if they decline it’s often with strong encouragement to resubmit. And quite a few pieces got accepted and I’ll share more details when I can.

The decision to make 44 pieces for my 44th birthday and to show up with them was the best craziest thing I’ve done in a very long time. It’s starting something. Something good. #showup

…and lots more in various stages of the process…

Sediments

Collages make layers. Of things that existed separately, and scraps thereof that now get used, turned into something new. We look at that layer, and it’s interesting. We put another thing in, and it obscures some parts, or it highlights, complements, contrasts. A conversation starts. More layers. More dialogue.

A busy area of a recent collage. this one actually contains a whole separate image that was an independent collage before…
Some super zoom in on the seaside area