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Aglow Liz West Nemozena 2018 9

Liz West Bold and immersive explorations of light and colour

The Now Then website has been a long time in the making, so it gives us great pleasure to showcase the work of Barnsley-born Liz West as the inaugural featured artist on our brand new digital platform.

Liz’s body of work encompasses site-specific installations, sculpture and wall-based artwork, and includes recent appearances at the London Design Festival, Paris Fashion Week and Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange. Her exploration of colour and light is bold and immersive, inviting audiences to linger in kaleidoscopic surroundings.

The luminous environments you create are vibrant and immersive. Tell us about your relationship with colour and light.

For me there is an intrinsic connection between the two, something that I struggle to explain because it’s just an interest that is there, so strongly rooted within me. It’s like explaining why you love somebody.

I have always been attracted to light. My mental wellbeing is always affected so much by the season of the year, the quality of light and the weather. Even when I was at art school playing with various media, the choice of light just seemed natural to me.

When you decide to be an artist, it’s not a job choice, it’s a life choice. You never switch off from being an artist, your creativity never stops and so you have to be in love with what you make.

Why colour? I grew up in Barnsley. It seemed industrial and grey, and I would therefore take notice of any vivid colour around me. It would just jump out at me. It might be a neon sign or all these very bright labels in the supermarkets. I was always attracted to that power of colour.

6 Liz West Our Colour 2016 Image courtesy of the artist

Our Colour by Liz West, 2016.

Image courtesy of the artist
Aglow Liz West Nemozena 2018 3

Aglow by Liz West, 2018-19

© Julien Philippy
BL Paddington Liz West Installation 8 Jason Bailey Studio

Colour Transfer by Liz West, 2018.

Jason Bailey Studio

What's your approach to creating a new installation?

It can happen in a variety of ways. I usually either find an opportunity that I’d like to work on or be invited to put together a proposal, or I might be longlisted, shortlisted, interviewed and then selected. Sometimes I get direct approaches and given the lovely opportunity and trust to make anything.

I make site visits either before the proposal or once I’ve been selected. I regularly get ideas after site visits because then I can imagine what will be surrounding the work. Quite often my work is collaborative with many people involved, including engineers, architects, fabricators, producers and curators.

Sometimes I am restricted by a brief but other times I am given absolute freedom to do whatever I like. Either way you have to be very flexible, you take off and put on many, many different hats all the time. My absolute favourite method of working is when I’m in a meeting with my fabricator and we try to think of really amazing solutions. I feel like I’m working with really good and fun people.

5 An Additive Mix by Liz West 2015 photograph by Stephen Iles National Media Museum SSPL

An Additive Mix by Liz West, 2015

Stephen Iles © National Media Museum
2 An Additive Mix by Liz West 2015 photograph by Stephen Iles National Media Museum SSPL

An Additive Mix by Liz West, 2015.

Stephen Iles © National Media Museum
BL Paddington Liz West Installation 23 Jason Bailey Studio

Colour Transfer by Liz West, 2018

Jason Bailey Studio

How has the pandemic affected the way you work and your exhibition plans for 2020?

All my exhibitions have been postponed to the exact spot in 2021. Activity on permanent works has slowed down considerably and only recently conversations are starting to pick back up. My practice centres on making installations in direct response to a site. From an initial site visit I would normally go away, research, draw and come up with a proposal. Obviously I haven’t been able to make any visits, so instead I have begun to imagine works for any space. In doing this I have increased my ideas bank tenfold.

My studio has been freely accessible as it’s at home, however time in there has been limited due to early years care providers being closed and my husband contracting Covid-19. Art making has not been a priority!

Installation Shot of Seurat To Riley Exhibition Compton Verney photo by Jamie Woodley 123 jpg

Our Spectral Vision by Liz West, 2016

Compton Verney photo by Jamie Woodley
Installation Shot of Seurat To Riley Exhibition Compton Verney photo by Jamie Woodley 117 jpg

Our Spectral Vision by Liz West, 2016

© Compton Verney photo by Jamie Woodley
Discs 2

Our Colour Reflection by Liz West, 2016

© Hannah Devereux

Your 2018 installation 'Colour Transfer' transforms a public thoroughfare with a rainbow of colour. Do you have any plans for more public space installations?

Yes, I do. I am working on two permanent works right now that are due to be launched in autumn 2020 and spring 2021, one of which has been ongoing since December 2018. They take a lot of time, as there are often so many components to consider and hurdles to jump over. Planning permission, structural engineering and material considerations are just a few fundamentals that come into play.

The tricky balance is the work being joyous in colour, dynamic in its use of light and harmonious with the site, as well as getting approval from multiple people. I also have several temporary public space installations in the pipeline, all of which have currently been placed on hold due to the pandemic and hopefully will regain momentum soon.

Nemozena 1

Aglow by Liz West, 2018-19.

© Julien Philippy
BL Paddington Liz West Installation 80 Jason Bailey Studio

Colour Transfer by Liz West, 2018

Jason Bailey Studio
Discs 3

Our Colour Reflection by Liz West, 2016

© Hannah Devereux

What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?

Most of my work for 2020 has been shifted to 2021, so it is promising to be a busy year. However, nothing is certain at the moment and I am preparing for postponements to turn into cancellations, as budgets will inevitably change.

If things stay as they are then I hope to be able to go into 2021 with a new outdoor permanent work in Salford, inclusion in UK and international group exhibitions for which I am making new pieces, two new indoor permanent commissions for spaces in the USA and a new temporary outdoor work for a venue in London. I wish I could reveal dates and locations, but at the moment I have to keep hush. I have to sign [non-disclosure agreements] for a lot of my work. Clients like the ‘big reveal’!

I have been exhibiting existing work for a few years, so am most looking forward to showing some new ideas that have been brewing longer than I care to admit.

2 Liz West Your Colour Perception 2015 Image Credit Stephen Iles

Your Colour Perception by Liz West, 2015

Stephen Iles

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