WIA profile: Lindsey Bull
We spotted Lindsey Bull at the London Art Fair this year. We were drawn to the Manchester based artists’s luminous portraits and enchanting scenes, Bull is fascinated by those who may be considered on the fringes of mainstream culture and society and her work explores different states of psychologies through figurative painting. Research into rituals, performance, fashion and magic come together to create scenarios of imagined mythology in her paintings.
Lindsey Bull explains more about her creative life and inspirations in our WIA Q&A here.
WIA: What are you doing today?
Lindsey Bull: I am sitting in my studio, on a (unusually) sunny day in Manchester, UK. My studio is flooded with light and I am contemplating doing some charcoal drawings. This is how I usually prepare myself for beginning to work on paintings. It is kind of like a warm up, physically and mentally.
WIA: Tell us about your creative process.
LB: My creative process is usually within a framework of a 9.30am to 2.30pm day. Now I have children this restriction on time really suits my process. I find that procrastination is no longer possible, and I am much more productive now! Within this timeframe I will make preparatory drawings and watercolours for paintings. I collect images that I will make sketches from, to figure out the possibility of the image becoming a painting. Formal considerations such as composition and areas of light and dark are figured out in the drawing. Often then, I will make a painting from the drawing and disregard the photograph. I want the original image to be transformed and the figures to become something else, this can only happen for me in the act of painting. I really like a quote by Chantal Joffe; “I paint to think” and this reflects the way I view my process.
WIA: Describe where you do most of your creative work.
LB: I work in my studio. I recently moved with many other artists to a huge abandoned Victorian school slightly further out of the city centre as we had to move out of our old mill building. At the time this felt like wrench, but my new space is more wonderful, bigger and with amazing light, high ceilings and most crucially my own sink in the corner! I almost never work at home and the studio is the most important place for me.
WIA: What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
LB: I have had wonderful opportunities that I have been very lucky to experience. For example, in 2016-18 I was a Liverpool Biennial Associate artist, this enabled me to go travelling to many places with my assigned mentor – the US based curator Mόnica Espinel. One trip was to Columbia to visit Atrbo in Bogotá. I was introduced, by Monica to a British artist, Freda Sargent. In her 90’s now, she told me tales of the Royal College of Art in the fifties and how she has lived her life in Columbia shadowed by her famous artist husband. Enigmatic and full of stories and gossip she was frail, but still painting. Her work and life are truly inspirational. Things have changed a great deal and for many female artists today, thankfully we do not experience some of the barriers to a having a family and career that she experienced. I felt I was talking to a kindred spirit. She had an absolute belief in painting and thirst for questioning what painting can do. I will never forget this encounter.
WIA: What made you decide to become an artist?
LB: I was studying Graphic design in my first year at University and I knew I couldn’t continue with the restrictions of remits and deadlines! I called my mum to tell her I wanted to swap. I was expecting she would say that I was crazy, and I would never make any money. She actually said: “I always knew you wanted to do Fine Art”.
WIA: What are you currently working on?
LB: I am currently working on an evolution of paintings based around images of dancers and fashion imagery. The work is always about performance and these figures depicted are often preparing to perform or in the process of a performance. Whether that is private or public. I am playing with the sense of being a voyeur to a mysterious spectacle. Some of these works are very large paintings and I am trying to constantly push the scale and in turn the monumentality of the work. New works will be shown in South Korea at Space K gallery in July 2019.
WIA: Do you listen to music while you work, and if so, what’s your soundtrack?
LB: I never listen to music. I find it really distracting. Even though music is and always has been incredibly important to me. I like to listen to the conversations in my head instead!
WIA: What are the key themes in your work?
LB: Performance, rituals, cults, costume, psychologies, sub-cultures.
WIA: What would you like people to notice in your work?
LB: I would hope that people can take something from the moment in time that is happening before them and perhaps build up a narrative, or other thoughts around the work, that may or may not be personal to them. One of the greatest honours that happened to me recently, whilst I was on a residency in Florida (ACA) was that a writer, who was also in residence, wrote a short story about one of my paintings – Pink Lady. From looking at the work she built up a whole narrative around the figure and an imagined backstory. If the work can trigger this kind of response, then I am really, very pleased.
WIA: What attracts you to the mediums you work in?
LB: I really enjoy working in charcoal because of how you can generate images very quickly and spontaneously, and watercolours for this reason too. With watercolour, there is an element of surprise as it is very difficult to control sometimes. I enjoy this about the medium and actively encourage a level of happenstance. Oils are a beautiful material to work with, I often work in layers and glazes to create areas of heightened colour and depth.
WIA: What equipment could you not do without?
LB: My studio, brushes and paint!
WIA: Who or what inspires you?
LB: My greatest art inspirations are Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon. I adore the palette and of Sutherland and the way that he produced forms and a sense of the figurative from roots of trees. A sense of foreboding and optimism is apparent in both Sutherland and Bacon’s paintings. I am drawn to artist’s work that is on the darker end of the spectrum, for example the latter work of Goya and Rembrandt. I am also a huge lover of German Expressionist painters, in particular, Oskar Kokoschka, who wasn’t German but Austrian. The intensity of his paintings is mind blowing.
I am also greatly inspired, and always have been, by music and fashion. These often go hand in hand. Watching live music can be very inspiring and transcendental at times.
WIA: How does gender affect your work?
LB: Many of the figures in my paintings are female. I am often attempting to depict a figure that is predominantly female, who is strong and powerful, but vulnerable at the same time. I am really intrigued by this portrayal of women. There is a dichotomy going on in the opposing forces of strength and vulnerability that fascinates me. Also, there is a projection of the personal, who I am and people that I know, admire and respect.
WIA: What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art?
LB: I love visiting the Tate Britain and Tate St Ives, their collection is wonderful.
WIA: If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why?
LB: It would have to be a Bacon. I would never ever tire of looking at one of his paintings. This is always the success of an artwork for me. Can it live on revealing more and more each time you experience it?
WIA: If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why?
LB: Painting is a medium that generally isn’t suited to collaboration especially with another painter, so I would suggest a photographer. I think that working in collaboration with Diane Arbus would be amazing.
WIA: Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated?
LB: I think that Freda Sargent is totally under-recognised and due a retrospective at an institutional museum.
WIA: What’s your favourite colour
Contact details & Social media for publication:-
Social media: Instagram @lindseybullartist
Abode Art https://www.art-abode.com