Artist Interview: Liz West

by Catherine Peters February 01, 2022 6 min read

Artist Interview: Liz West

February is a short month, bringing awareness that Spring is just around the corner, leaving grey freezing temperatures behind, welcoming colour into our surroundings. We are bringing colour onto our blog with this months Artist Interview with British artist, Liz West who is working in site-specific installation, light & sculpture.

"Your work explores a viewers relationship with colour, using light and is often a connection to a specific site. With national and international commissions allowing your installations and sculptures to enhance public spaces.

Q: Can you tell us about your Artistic background/education?"

"Most of my earliest memories as a child were of discovering the world in a sensory capacity. I was attracted to objects, land and cityscapes, spaces and fashion that were made of vibrant colours, the brightest tones and hues and of strong saturation. All my memories, first loves and attractions all had one thing in common; the use of colour and light together.

I create vivid environments that mix luminous colour and radiant light. I aim to provoke a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer through my work. I am interested in exploring how sensory phenomena can invoke psychological and physical responses that tap into our own deeply entrenched relationships to colour. My investigations into the relationship between colour and light is often realised through an engagement between materiality and a given site. Our understanding of colour can only be realised through the presence of light. By playing and adjusting colour, I bring out the intensity and composition of my spatial arrangements."

1. Liz West, Our Colour, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.jpg

Q. How has your creative journey evolved over the last 5 years?

"In the past five years I have had a baby, moved my studio to home and continued to work full time as an artist. During my maternity leave (in 2017) I exhibited a lot of existing work that was toured internationally and re-made to suit its new location site-specifically. Since then, I have been busy thinking of ideas and making proposals for new works, both temporary and permanent, indoor and outdoor. Last year was extremely busy, as my practice has gained traction as the years pass by and people see my work ‘out-there’."

Q. Do you work in a studio or from home?

"My studio has been at home for the past 4 years. I have been part of communal artists studios in the past, but both studios ended up being bought by building developers and turned into apartments. Working from home has its benefits and down-sides – I am close to my home comforts and its warm, but the family noise can be distracting."

Q. Who are your Art Influencers? Inspirations?

"As an artist, I walk around with my eyes wide open. I look at the architecture, design, art that is all around me. I love people watching, seeing how we navigate, traverse and move through the spaces we inhabit. I appreciate geometry, shapes, colour, blends and pattern. I watch the weather and the seasons endlessly and how the light changes constantly. The work of artists who use the mediums of colour and light in combination have interested, resonated and influenced me the most, these works have had a direct effect on the scale, ambition and form of my work."

Q. What helps you to create your work, music? quiet?

"Each working day brings something completely different in my world so it’s hard to build in any sort of ritual or routine. I am working on several projects at any one time, which are all at different stages of fruition, ranging from conception to completion. On any given day I might be jumping from making a site visit (in person on virtually), making drawings and sketches, writing about my ideas, promoting new works, photo shoots, conversations with producers, curators and fabricators and general administration. I am a morning person and generally function better then and find I create better at this time. I like to make myself copious pots of green tea; I find it comforting to have something caffeinated and clean to start my day. Some of my work involves deep concentration so quiet is best, I often listen to music when making drawings."

GSY_211202_liz_west_094.jpg

Q. Do you keep a sketchbook? How often do you use it and do you travel with it?

"No I don’t. I like the idea of them, as I used sketchbooks during my art education and found them restrictive and difficult to start, but since art school I have found working on loose sheets of paper better as it gives me more freedom. I don’t like being limited by the size of a sketchbook for drawing, instead I keep my works on paper filled away in A4 and A3 draws. I use my smart phone or notebook on-the-go for jotting down ideas and making quick sketches."

Q. Where does a piece of work begin for you? Can you describe your process?

"My work is a three-part process: 1. Making physical drawings/works on paper/sketches/models/maquettes myself in my studio, 2. designers translating my ideas into digital renders or CGI’s using computer software, and 3. Having my work fabricated in a workshop using large machinery and specialist techniques."

Q. What are your most important artists tools?

"I use many different tools and materials in my work. In the studio I find the most important and useful tools are:

  • a range of different ink pens (brush, fiber tip, ballpoint, etc)
  • material swatch books and samples
  • a decent ruler, knife and cutting mat combo

With these items I can create my ideas in either 2D and 3D in order to translate my thoughts to curators, commissioners or collectors."

 Q What are your favourite materials/technique?

"I really enjoy materials and I really enjoy finding out about new materials. I am always on the lookout because I am a super sensory person, a highly visual person, a highly tactile person. When I am in a DIY shop for example, I’m thinking about my work and thinking about which materials I could use. It might not be using the material for what it was originally intended but I am always thinking about how I might re-appropriate materials. I really enjoy reflective surfaces or ones that refract light – things that go hand in hand with light, for example; mirrors, Perspex, prisms, glass orbs and so on. I’ve just started looking at some really interesting concave and convex lenses too. The list is endless and I enjoy the possibility of different materials."

Q. What are you currently working on?

"I have several new works and exhibitions in the pipeline for this year; a new permanent site-specific artwork at Guy’s Hospital in London, two new museum based works in the USA, a solo exhibition in France and a (domestically scaled) limited edition piece will be coming on sale in the late-Spring which I have been developing for a couple of years."

 Q. What is the best advice you were given early in your creative career?

"I was given a few pieces of good advice that I took heed of and have struck with me. One was to make work that you are truly in love with and passionate about; if you don’t love the work, then how can you except anyone else to! Another was a great quote from David Bowie: “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

3. Hundreds and Thousands by Liz West commissioned by Greenwich Peninsula, on The Tide at Greenwich Peninsula Photo credit - Charles Emerson.jpg

Q. Where can we see more of your work online or in person?

"The majority of my work is well documented on my website www.liz-west.com

In person, you can see my work in the following places:

Catherine Peters
Catherine Peters


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