Frame 61

Louisa Chambers

Frame 61
Louisa Chambers

Education, past: I graduated with a BA in Fine Art (First Class Honors) at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham in 2005 and achieved an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London in 2007. After completing my studies at the RCA, I continued to develop my practice within artist studio spaces in organisations such as Space Studios, Bow Arts Trust and Limehouse Arts Foundation. I relocated to Derbyshire in 2012 where I have been undertaking an Artist-In-Residence/Teaching position at Repton School. I have a dedicated studio above a gallery space on site at the school where I continue to test out ideas in painting. Alongside the residency position, I am also an Associate Lecturer on the BA Fine Art course at Nottingham Trent University.

Since graduating I am pro-active with regularly exhibiting my work in both solo and group shows and have been selected for recognised national open competitions. These include John Moores 25 Contemporary Prize (Liverpool, 2008) and more recently the Creekside Open selected by Richard Deacon (London, 2015) Paint Like You Mean It at Interview Room 11 (Edinburgh 2014) and Zeitgeist Open (London 2012). This year four paintings from the Fold/Unfold series were selected for the Nottingham Castle Open (Nottingham 2015). These paintings were awarded the Nottingham Castle Purchase Prize and are now part of the Nottingham Castle collection.

Medium / subject matter: I currently have been developing a new series of works that incorporate a simple folded form be that with patterned fabric or paper (wrapping, found or architectural paper). I have been manipulating these folded shapes and recording them through the mediums of painting, drawing, painted objects, collage and more recently moving image. I have been intrigued by the coloured patterned tessellations that are on the surface of the materials and how they interact with overlaps, folds, the in between spaces and casting shadows suggesting other areas of illusion. The scenes and shapes that feature in the work tilt back and forth between abstraction and figuration.

The majority of the work from this series has been painted with water based paints - gouache or acrylic and on card, board and aluminum. I have been experimenting with the medium gouache for the last couple of years now. I decided to test out and purchase a Lascaux gouache box set (as a treat!). Once discovering that by adding an acrylic medium to make the gouache water resistant– I couldn’t stop using it! I love that the medium can have similar transient properties to that of watercolour paint. However, the pigment is richer and doesn’t have the plasticity compared to acrylic paint. The transient quality of gouache mirrors that of the temporal nature of the folded fabric or paper shapes that I am recording in the work. They can be squashed down and reconstructed again.

Experiences: I would say working on collaborations or in groups with other artists. At the RCA, I learnt the value and importance of staying in contact with friends and peers on the course. This helped to bring about opportunities to show my work and organise group exhibitions. In 2008 – 2012, along with my husband who is also a painter, we inhabited a Live Work space with the arts organisation Bow Arts in East London. During this period we met and collaborated with artists, organising exhibitions and initiating regular studio visits.

Currently I am finding teaching a two way reflective process which is opening up how I approach making work. In July 2014 and 2015, I was invited to participate in The Summer Lodge at Nottingham Trent University. The Summer Lodge is an intensive two week practice based research project with thirty contemporary artists (national and international) that takes place in the BA Fine Art studios. Each time it has given me the support and opportunity to test out ideas in my practice- such as a wall painting or through moving image. The time spent at The Summer Lodge has helped to create new dialogues and future collaborations with the other participants.

How you spend your day: Often I begin the day completing any administration tasks such as sending out newsletters to contacts, updating my blog, social networking, looking for and applying to opportunities. In the studio, as a starting point I sometimes read an article in a magazine/journal or a chapter in a book allowing me to enter a head space for making work. I then sometimes look at the paintings I am currently working on and decide how to make the next step. This could be in terms of colour, or what to remove or add in the painting. I often work in short bursts on a painting. This could mean that I work on two to three paintings or even more, in quick successions in a period of a day.

Starting a new piece: I have recently been working directly from ‘life’ recording crumpled materials – wrapping paper, patterned folded paper and/or fabric. I often draw the outline first with pencil. I either continue to work from this object in front of me or I take a photo or work from memory. This is all dependent on how the painting is going. If the painting has lost its provisional quality to it or I have become too aware of the process– I hide the object away from sight and again I work from memory.

Titles: Throughout my practice, even since my BA my work seemingly always refers back to structures, systems and/or architecture. This new series of works, the folded paper or fabric shapes purposively nod towards more structural forms. However, due to the idea that they are temporal, easily squashed; I title the works as if they are undertaking a movement or are transforming into anthropomorphic beings.

Time: The length of time to complete an artwork is dependent on the scale and the medium I am using. The small gouache paintings on card are painted at speed, often in short burst and in approximately three sittings. Generally I tend to work on paintings or objects in quick successions as the aim is to keep the provisional quality of the handling of the paint.


Narrative, viewer: I don’t often consider narrative in my work especially that the pieces often shift between abstraction and figuration, sometimes hovering in between. My recent paintings from the Fold/Unfold series can be read as moving objects that are almost transforming into anthropomorphic things. I would like them to be seen together and through the titles a narrative could be proposed between each one.

Art heroes/heroines: The artists that influence me do change and shift on a regular basis. Some of the contemporary artists that I refer to include:  Math Bass, Amy Sillman, Thomas Nozkowski, Mary Helimann and Joanne Greenbaum. Recently I have become aware of and started to research into Latin American Geometric Abstraction from the 1930s to 1970s. In particular the Brazilian artists: Lygia Pape, Hélio Oitcica and Lygia Clark.

Future: In February 2016, I am going to be participating in a three person collaborative exhibition with artists Craig Fisher and Rob Flint called Razzle: All that Jazz at the Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire in association with Primary in Nottingham. The initial starting point for the exhibition is ‘Dazzle Camouflage.’ We will be making site-specific wall based works in response to the gallery space and to each other’s practices with an overall ‘dazzle effect’.

If you would like to see more of the artist's work click here for their website.


Publishing date of this interview 12/01/16