Artist Lyndsay Martin’s dreamy images move you with gentle touches of intrigue. Her multimedia works consider domestic environments emotionally charged with human relationships. The distinct, vintage aesthetic of the work creates a particular yet timeless moody atmosphere. A tactile employment of quotidian materials and intimate imagery is translated from precious physical somethings to graceful moving image works.
Lyndsay Martin is a London-based mixed media artist. Since 2010, she has exhibited internationally at Art Exchange, Fallout Factory Gallery Liverpool, SCOPE Art Fair Miami, The Crypt Gallery, Vibe Gallery, Japan Media Arts Festival, and others.
Lyndsay is currently finishing up her latest project, Conversations, and has been so kind as to answer a few questions for LoVArts.
LoVArts: Your work has such a unique look, could you tell us a little about your artist backstory?
Lyndsay Martin: I studied Illustration at degree and MA level, but it was only starting my Masters at Central Saint Martins that allowed me to push my practice in new ways, introducing photography and found objects into the collage work that I had previously been doing. Studying illustration has helped me with design and narrative which is a useful skill to pull from in the work I create now.
As my practice has progressed, I am more interested in how different mediums can potentially work together, like ceramics and photography. I am not a master in one specific skill, but that has freed me up to explore more intuitively the mediums I create with.
LVA: So you moved to London for university; what convinced you to stay and how do you feel about being an artist in London?
LM: I’ve lived in London for 13 years now, I pretty much made my mind up this is where I wanted to be after I graduated. You get spoiled with the amazing amount of things you can see and do here. I have always been interested in aesthetics from different eras, particularly the 1950s through to the 1970s. The ability to easily visit a lot of vintage markets and shops to source pieces for my art has played a big part in the work I create to date. I am a keen collector of tat.
The down side is obviously the cost of living. As an artist it can be a hard at times to afford to make the work you really want to. But that has also influenced my practice, taking me down different routes and using materials I may never have used otherwise. Whether exploring video installation with home-made films and cheap cameras or using raw clay and vacuum cleaner dust, these cheap or free processes have ended up becoming techniques I continue to create work with.
”I have always been interested in aesthetics from different eras, particularly the 1950s through to the 1970s.”
LVA: Your work centers around human relationships. Tell us what drew you to this subject–and what you want to draw out of it.
LM: The theme of human relationships within the domestic environment constantly draws me in. Showing these conversations and interactions as stains that are left within the room, never quite leaving, continually spreading as these behavioral patterns continue. A place that has an ideal of what it should mean forcibly imposed upon both the fantasies and the realities of the people in that place.
I have always been attracted to surreal, melancholic imagery, artists like Francesca Woodman, David Lynch and Gregory Crewdson, that have used the domestic environment within their work. They set a scene, an atmosphere, viewing a moment of somebody’s life. Left open and sometimes unclear of what is happening, it can leave the viewer with more questions than answers. I deliberately try to leave my sequences open to interpretation, hopefully enabling the viewer to project his or her own experience and emotion into it.
LM: Considering the nature of the work I do, I think that it is somehow inevitable to bring some part of you and your past to the work that you are creating, whether it’s intentional or not.
I have an interest in what people to choose to show and what they choose to hide, looking at how they select to present themselves in the outside world and in their own home. I have had personal experience of how extreme this can be, and although my work has origins in my own personal life, I also recognize the need to allow interpretation on the part of the observer
LVA: You work in a variety of media. How does your use of unusual materials play into the narrative of the work?
LM: All these materials play a role in the narrative. I enjoy re-contextualising the everyday and mundane fabric and materials of life. I use them to create a history, changing their forms and marking them with the emotions of the relationships and interactions within that space. I’ve used everything from dust and hair to the unspeakable debris from vacuum cleaner bags, congealed jelly and plant pot soil. With the new work, Conversations, I experiment with the raw materials that are used to make objects for everyday function in the home, taking porcelain clay to create new shapes such as hollow roses and leaves, pushing it through muslin cloth and using it to coat love bird skeletons. I also worked extensively with muslin cloth, printing photography onto it and embroidering patterns and images onto it which I would unpick and distress. All of these materials have their rightful place in the home, though not in the way they are presented. That idea ties into the narratives hinted at throughout the work.
”With the new work, Conversations, I experiment with the raw materials that are used to make objects for everyday function in the home, taking porcelain clay to create new shapes such as hollow roses and leaves, pushing it through muslin cloth and using it to coat love bird skeletons.”
LVA: Where does video come in?
LM: It felt like a natural progression from my photography. It allowed me to elaborate on the themes I had been building towards with my photography, exploring more of a narrative through the manipulation of timeline and sound. It allowed me to really expand on the juxtaposing of images I had been previously exploring.
It has also been a great opportunity to collaborate and work with musicians and film editors. The sound design and editing can completely change the interpretation and atmosphere of the piece. It was a really fun and interesting part of the process.
LVA: Your latest show was at Art Exchange in (C)overt Corporeality–a an exhibition centering around the female body and materiality. How did your piece Notions of a Home factor in?
LM: The curators were interested in the use of the different, surprising material combinations and the female body as a subject, so the work seemed to fit really well. It was a really enjoyable exhibition to be involved in.
Notions of a Home shows the female figure in a different way, what should be a sexually provocative image covered and masked in household dust. The exhibition looked at the play on the interaction between materials within an artwork, unveiling a different perspective of the female bodily experience.
LVA: Your images often feature women with omitted or obscured faces–does this convey a particular experience?
LM: When I first started this process, it was about a very personal experience. I was wanting to create an atmosphere and a mood for the viewer to feel from the images whilst obscuring and distorting their faces, which is the first place you look to in order to read the emotion. It has developed and evolved from there. I use it to illustrate other narratives within the pieces now.
”I was wanting to create an atmosphere and a mood for the viewer to feel from the images whilst obscuring and distorting their faces, which is the first place you look to in order to read the emotion.”
LM: I’m currently exploring the way different mediums can be paired together this way. Juxtaposition can be a powerful and thought provoking tool. I like taking a very straight, factual image and placing it next to a more elusive figure to see what story this now creates. I think in turn this invites the viewer to ask a few more questions.
LVA: What is your newest piece, Conversations?
LM: Conversations is about the symbiotic relationship between emotional repression and the passage of time. It uses escapism and fantasy clashing with the drudgery and domestic minutiae of a life less lived.
It initially consists of a video installation – Conversation 669 – and four mixed media artworks each contained within display cases – Conversation 547-891.
”[Conversations] uses escapism and fantasy clashing with the drudgery and domestic minutiae of a life less lived.”
LVA: How did you find the process of making this work?
LM: It turned out be quite a long project taking about a year to complete. It was a body of work where I used quite a few new techniques and materials. From taking ceramic workshops, employing 3D scanning and printing, machine embroidery, and working with someone to help design the display cases. It was a great experience to work with new people, up until now I have tended to work alone on physical, non-film projects.
There are definitely some new materials and techniques that I am going to continue developing for new work. I’d love to explore using photographs and ceramics, as well as layering in olfactology onto the work.
LVA: You have collaborated before on musical projects like album covers–what do you think of this relationship of art to music?
LM: They can both feed off and inspire each other. I think they always have. My husband is a musician and luckily we like each other’s work! We worked together on past projects and on Conversation 669, which he recorded the sound design for. It’s a nice thing to be able to do and a nice way to be able to support one another.
LVA: What was your best exhibition experience thus far, and what draws you to certain opportunities?
LM: That’s a hard question to answer! I’m not sure there has been one defining one. There have been some good ones that my work went to but I sadly couldn’t afford to join. I think SCOPE Miami or Japan Media Art Festival in Tokyo would have been amazing to be there to see it.
Though not an exhibition, I was incredibly pleased last December to have Conversation 669 video debuted on Nick Knight SHOWstudio. He’s someone that I have always looked up to so that was a nice moment, to have the chance to have some positive feedback from him.
LVA: Finally–do you have any upcoming projects, and where do you see your artwork going in the future?
LM: I’m in talks at the moment, so I’m hoping to show Conversations late this year in London. I do have a final part of Conversations that I have just started work on involving touch and scent. I hope with this idea to explore how it affects the way the work is viewed, triggering both memory and imagination. Asking the viewer to be immersively involved in the artwork, rather than just to be an external spectator.
Along with exhibiting, I would really like to explore the idea of collaborative work. It can move and push your work in unexpected directions and something I am really keen to keep exploring.
Thank you Lyndsay for telling us more about your work!
Comment below or email us at email@example.com to get in touch with Lyndsay about any questions or collaboration interest.
11 August 2017
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