Have you ever taken the time to feel the sensory effects of colour? Liz West creates almost meditative experiences- that’s if you can slow down, get off the phone, and allow yourself to be truly immersed. Come and see things differently as you get drenched in her dazzling world of colour + light!
UA: As an unfinished animal what is the driving message or idea you're creating and sharing through your art?
LW: I create vivid environments that mix luminous colour and radiant light. My aim is to provoke a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer through my works. 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.
UA: What has your work taught you about people and the human experience in our ever changing and busy world?
LW: I enjoy people watching, especially when interacting with my works. I have noticed that many pedestrians are in a rush or looking, scrolling or speaking on their phones as they move; in turn this means that they are missing many of the delights of the world around them. I take my inspiration from everything around me (sounds, design, people, fashion, architecture, art, nature) and am constantly looking. In general, I think others have forgotten the art of 'seeing'. One of the purposes of my work is to stop people in their tracks, reflect their surroundings, refract light in different ways and slow people down, even just for a few seconds, to try and allow them to appreciate the world around them more.
UA: How do you keep yourself and your work evolving?
LW: I am constantly researching new materials that spark an interest. I am very playful in my approach to thinking and making new works, I make sketched and models of my ideas and photograph them, this acts as a visual sketchbook which I reference back to. There are many kinds of people I would like to collaborate with in the future, including; psychologists, choreographers, dancers, musicians, scientists, people with colourblindness, synesthesia and visual impairments. I feel that conversations with others is the key to keep my work evolving, I am limited by my own mind.
UA: How would you like people to connect with your work?
LW: The strength of light created by vivid and chemical colour has an effect on me and others, which can be physical, emotional and psychological (and for some – spiritual) and I imagine this is how people find a connection to or within my work. The effect is known to increase personal well-being and serotonin levels – often associated with exposure to sunlight. Although overwhelming in its saturation, my work allows visitors an opportunity to tap into their own relationships to light; memories of it, lived experiences and sensory reactions. Each person visiting my installations will bring with them their own associations and responses and take away a heightened sense of feeling, whatever that may be. I think it is rare for most people to have been completely immersed and saturated in light produced by strong visible colours, and find encountering my work an experience. My work allows people to stop, think and feel.
UA: Do you think we can empower people through art?
LW: People can be empowered by art in many different ways; One way is through opportunities creatives are given that in turn empowers them and enables them a different lifestyle or allows them to explore new avenues or processes with free reign. I also believe people can be empowered through art by their encounters and conversations with artists, works or exhibitions; they might experience or see something that chimes with their beliefs or resonates in a life-changing or mind altering way. Art can prove that anything is possible and that our minds are so diverse and interesting.
UA: What impact do you think your work has or could have on culture and humanity?
LW: That is a big question! I hope that my work fills people with joy and gives visitors an otherworldly experience that they can take away with them. I hope that my work helps people understand how colour and light behave and how they collectively change our perception of space and time.
UA: Where do you find inspiration when you’re not feeling inspired?
LW: Both my parents are/were artists which meant that I was taken to exhibitions from a very early age so I have built up a huge catalogue of artists and experiences which I am inspired by and reference back to when stuck for inspiration. Often when artists block hits me, I turn to a combination of geometry, play, delicious materials, colour samples and a window/artificial light source to find inspiration and get the juices flowing again.
UA: When do you feel most alive and being your best self?
A summertime pre-breakfast swim in the cold North Sea when in my favourite holiday place, Southwold makes me feel the most alive - this is a yearly adrenaline rush.
Giving birth at home is probably my all time 'best self' moment when I defiantly felt totally alive and super human. Mothers are amazing!
Generally I feel most alive and at my best when I am with others and talking about collective passions. I bounce off people and their experiences and memories; I love reminiscing and thinking back to my artistic upbringing; I also thrive in public situations where I have a chance to get dressed up and present myself or my work. I feel alive when I am getting ready for something (a party, an event, a meal), I love all the preparations (more than the occasion itself) - as I enjoy making things nice in order for others to experience my world in the best light. I find it hard to relax and switch off...
Thank you Liz!