Artist Lily Lewis hosted a private view of her latest exhibition There is No Such Thing as Grown Ups
Champagne flowed and the room was abuzz with conversation at the Schleiffer Art gallery in Connaught Village, as DDW members and guests gathered for a private view of Lily Lewis’s latest exhibition. Guests were treated to an insightful talk by the artist who explained the inspiration behind her works and how they fit in with the narrative of modern times.
DDW sat down with Lily and discussed her favourite pieces, her inspiration and what she has coming up next:
What’s the inspiration behind your latest exhibition?
I was lecturing at a university in Mexico about the importance of narrative and aesthetic on children. How stories and pictures shown to kids, the toys they are given, and the narrative the children build for themselves with these tools, create the society they make when they grow up. The paintings in the show are half pictures of people who were on their smartphones, I think the ultimate symbol of adulthood and agency today; they’re made from rare earth metals, dug up halfway around the world by potentially slave labour, cost no less than £400 and by sending one text you can exert your will on China. And I replaced the phones with toys and pets. Showing ostensibly people who would be seen as adults being childish. The other half of the show are paintings of adult concepts seen through a surrealist and childlike frame of view, covering themes like responsibility of emotion, work, and gender. I was heavily influenced by Mexico when I was there, not just in the colours and shapes of the country’s history and present, but also as a white European you’d have to be blind to not see the scars of empire everywhere; Thoughts of responsibility and what constitutes the idea and granting of agency to individuals as well as institutions and governing bodies are questions that are very pressing and important today.
What’s your favourite piece?
Ooohhh. That’s tough. They all are, for very different reasons. But if there’s one I would keep… if I didn’t feel the need to make sure they all go to homes and collections, which I do… It’s hard not to make deep connections with your works as an artist but you can’t hold on to them, they’re supposed to move on and do their thing without you. A piece of art has several lives and only the first two; conception and execution, are with their creator… it would be the tiger caterpillar. Not because it’s the best technical painting but because it’s the closest thing I’ve ever done to a self-portrait, at a time where I had a visceral awakening to my own sense of self.
The story behind the sculpture?
Hahaha, that’s actually funny. I wanted to make a visual representation of what I meant by adults being made from the games they played and toys they played with. I was talking to my agent on the phone as I drove I have the abbey road zebra crossing the Beatles made famously and I had this image of a bird game piece man moving from board game to board game-like stepping stones. It was so fitting considering how disruptive the band was, how sharp-witted and naughty. In the best way, there were such symbols of the time, such products of a zeitgeist. He was called ‘L’homme qui Joue’ in homage to the Giacometti sculpture but his proportions are that of an 11-year-old boy, on the cusp of puberty, and so he is called Joe… ‘Joe, Qui Joue’.
How can someone who’s interested buy one of your pieces?
The best way to get in touch is through my agent, Stephanie Schleiffer at email@example.com or on Instagram. My website launch is also imminent… but then it has been for nearly a year now so, I wouldn’t hold my breath 😂.
What do you have coming up next?
I’m really excited about this year. I’ve got the launch of my tarot card set that I made in ceramic for an immersive exhibition in 2018 called ‘Play’ along with a book of poetry that I have written to accompany the cards. They’re beautiful and will let people who love my work but don’t have the budget for a painting or sculpture to spend go home with a full exhibitions work of pictures in one deck, and also a game they will find enjoyment in. Especially in these times. We need to remember to play games, to be able to build ourselves into the people that this world and society will need us to be next month, next year, and so on. I also had 2 exhibitions planned for this year but everything’s a little up in the air at the moment. I’m taking this time to settle myself and my work and channel the energy into creating things that will bring joy and thoughtfulness to the world. We’re all dining what we can, no?