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Louise Lahive - New Blood

To help give further insight to the artists featured in the New Blood exhibition Broadway Gallery curator Kris Day asked each artist a series of questions on their practice, how their work was affected by the lockdown and what they think galleries should be doing to help support early career artists.

Could you tell us a bit more about your practice? 

My practice is anchored in painting, drawing and soft sculpture but also incorporates ideas, aesthetics and materials from outside the traditional cannon of fine art. I am interested in assimilating and mixing up ideas that are fundamental to our understanding of ourselves, and these can be found in any area from theoretical physics to theology or literature. The painting in this exhibition is called ‘Ghost Heads And Golden Hearts’ and it incorporates different imaginings of alternative, or pluralistic worlds alongside direct demonstrations and observations of our present reality. The making of work is very much a process for me, I tend to start with incorporating randomly generated patterns (using scattered seeds or water for an example) alongside figurative elements and then I engage with the job of editing composition and colour. That’s how I would describe my work at the moment. 

As an art student working through the pandemic please tell us about some of the challenges you faced during this time. 

Like many students I didn’t have access to the Universities facilities during the first lock down, this meant that all the work that was proposed and thought up pre-pandemic had to be scrapped and I had to try and think of new things to create with what I had around me. I had to work on a much smaller scale than I wanted, and I had to put my dark room projects on the back burner. It was impossible to plan any projects in the university for a good year, because nobody knew what was going to happen next. Alongside this I had to home school my two children during the first and second lock down which meant that my practice came to a complete stop at some points, and I had to defer certain modules. This meant that in the final seven months of my course I had to work extra hard to catch up and complete all the work. It wasn’t easy! 

All artists were forced to adapt during the lockdown, do you think these circumstances effected your practice in any way and did you manage to find new ways of getting your work ‘out there’, such as online exhibitions? 

I was really lucky during the lock downs to be in Eastcheap studios in Letchworth, so me and the other artists there could organise events together. Sean Pearce organised a small exhibition as soon as the studios project space was able to be opened and Anna Fairchild organised a few artists interviews that we put up online. I then helped apply for AC funding for a series of residencies for ourselves and a few other artists so that we could develop work in the project space. Another way I was able to show my work was in the University upper gallery and although not a lot of people saw my work displayed during this period (as we were mostly locked down) it was important to do, as my work is not made for a digital platform and has no purpose with out an audience (no matter how small). 

Exhibitions such as New Blood aim to support early career artists by exposing them to new audiences, but this can only go so far. Is there anything that galleries could, or should, be doing to help develop your career further?

I think that the best thing a gallery can do is to support and cultivate the local artist communities through artists talks and crit groups and by bringing in artists from other counties or countries. The most important thing artists need to keep going is the support, understanding and encouragement of other artists. I also think that it is important to practice affirmative action where minorities and women are concerned. 

Are there any new projects you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about? 

My MA just finished in late September, so I’m still recuperating from the hard work and intensity of it all! I started to get back into in my studio to a few weeks ago to re-organise my space and start developing new work. I feel like the MA has given me a clearer direction and helped me to approach my processes in a more open and reciprocal way. I am genuinely excited about the direction my work has taken and what will be happening over the next few years post pandemic.