Friday 11 July 2008

Lady Lucy interview

Lady Lucy

Location: Bristol, UK

- - -

This interview took place at the end of February 2005. All images reproduced with permission © Lady Lucy.

- - -

Hi Lucy, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?
At the moment I am doing various projects. Making a sk8 board film about the politics of not doing tricks, trying really hard to archive 1000 drawings, 5 years work from Being Lady Lucy, looking for some paid work, doing some drawings, thinking about touring Independent Heroines to various venues, and planning a trip to Berlin for research and development that I was supposed to do 2 years ago. And the rest of course...

When, and how did you begin the Independent Heroine ‘empire’(!) ?
How has it evolved over the years?
Independent Heroine started as a fanzine in 1998, and there was only one issue. I was motivated to start it because I wanted to go on a journey of discovery about the culture I was in to. I decided that a great way of discovering stuff that I would find inspirational was to write about it in my own magazine, and invented "Independent Heroine". It only lasted one issue as it became more of a music-orientated thing, and although I loved music, didn't want to do a reviews magazine. I saw Independent Heroines as more of an arts imprint.
When I arrived at The Cube Cinema I was given server space and leaned how to make websites. I also got the opportunity to do an Independent Heroine night too. So we did the poster project where we asked people, though women in particular, who their Independent Heroines were and would they like to make a poster. The idea was that the posters were stuck up in the creators locality as well as a copy send to us to put on the website and we did a night and showed some Sarah Jacobson films. Around this time I also initiated an Internet mailing list. Independent Heroines ambition was always to do a film festival, with The Cube this too seemed possible, as its links to the underground film scene provided examples of women’s festivals worldwide. Of course we had taken Independent Heroine poster project to the Glasgow Ladyfest and wanted to make a Ladyfest happen and so things did happen in Bristol and so we presented a week of films then. With Independent Heroines I collaborated with filmmaker Lisa Brook. We have just finished Independent Heroines 2005.
In the future I would like to see Independent Heroines having a blog and invite a wide range of people to write cool stuff on it. I would also like to curate some more projects under the moniker and work with some people I find inspiring. It's good to keep something like this adaptable. I bumped into an old work colleague the other day and she was like " I still see you're still doing Independent Heroines then?!" and I was like “yeah”. I think Independent Heroines like Lady Lucy will always exist in some form.

A large theme in your work is that of collaboration with other women, whether by other women appearing in your sketchbooks, women acting as ‘muses’, your working along-side women on individual projects, or organising artistic events with other women, often internationally. What do you feel collaboration has to offer your work, and ‘art’ in general?
I have to state here that I don't only collaborate with woman, and don't actually have a preference to collaborate with women over men. There are different sorts of collaboration. Collaborations are great. They are ways of making things happen. I think I learned the feeling of collaborating properly when I got to The Cube, here it seems there are so many people wanting to collaborate on different things. I find though that I am a very emotional person and this has been a big part of my work, the reason I need to draw in my sketchbooks to make sense of the world in my own way. As in how I was saying about Independent Heroine but in a different way. My sketchbook pictures will usually evolve around social conversations and I do relish being lucky enough to have the lifestyle that lets me talk to my friends often enough to let me know what is going on with them, and record them in my books. It's good to collaborate with women, or the women you connect with, because Men in my experience do tend to take over, be encouraging but arrogant about what they deem their culture to be, and are still not used to women being in a powerful role. They may even deny it, but deep down I still believe there is a strong need for us to be feminists and my way of doing that is by being a cultural feminist. Talking about the power of collaboration, one of the nights at Independent Heroines 2005 was called "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do I", and this was where we got 3 different sets of collaborative artists or curators and had a debate with them. It was really great, and such a healthy discussion, and with opposing opinions. I am looking forward to watching the video documentary of it.

How have some of these collaborations come about?
Friendship, common interests, inspirations, ideas, the excitement of being able to make things happen! Is collective action important to you, politically? Yes, I guess I see what we do with Independent Heroines is like a cross between education/entertainment. A perfect mixture of highbrow/lowbrow. And often we do it together like when we are sitting watching a film.

I first discovered your work via the Independent Heroine Project, another collaborative project, whereby you inspired, encourage and collated the production of posters, drawn and produced by women, of their own Heroines. I remember viewing some of those posters on the web & being so inspired by people’s work, and by their choices. What inspired this project?
It was inspired by a project that my friend Amp who does found in the states called The Guerrilla Women's history project. She came back being so inspired that she really wanted us to collaborate on somethingsimilar. I just got on with it. It also very conveniently acted as a way of hooking up with other people who might be interested in doing similar stuff. A lot of people who worked on Ladyfest Bristol were at that night I seem toremember. It has often been said that people, women in particular, no longer believe in heroes, or heroines.

Were you encouraged by the amount of responses you received for the project?
Yes overall, amazed. Astounded. From Madonna! to Delia Derbyshire. But both being inspiring to different people. Some people were cynical and made posters about not being into hero's or heroines. But it definitely raised the issue and debate which was great

A big part of the project was also to encourage women to display the posters themselves in their locality. What was your aim behind this specific part of the project?
The idea with this was to spread the word about the project to places it wouldn't have reached like village shops, community centres and on the streets.

How important is it to you to encourage other people’s (other women’s) artistic and creative production?
It is very important, part of what I do is to do workshops and this is always inspiring.

What can you tell me about the ‘Movie Memories’ project that you have recently completed and shown?
It's quite a long story. It's my first published book, so that's great. And I met a few really inspirational older people doing this project and that's reflected in the text. You can look at The Movie Memories web page at The book is available to buy, and proceeds go to Age Concern.

Is it important to you to involve a large age range of people in your work, as I assume you did with Movie Memories? I ask this, as I have spoken to older feminists who often feel left out of the more DIY/’punk’/cultural/creative feminist activity, such as that of and at Ladyfest?
I am interested in being reflective of society which has a large age range! In regards to this and Independent Heroines we try use the basis of the more DIY feminist message, but also try and appeal universally. This worked very well at both of the festivals, with older people coming to both and being inspired. I think sometimes older feminists just don't expect there to be an interest in their activity. But these are the roots of what we are doing now, and in some feminist art practises the work is actually about these people. See Emma Hedditch, ‘A Political Feeling, I'd hope so’.

I have recently seen some of your illustrations in the pages of Plan B magazine. How did that involvement and collaboration come about?
I did stuff for Careless Talk Costs Lives, and so I got asked to do stuff for Plan B.

Plan B is predominantly an ‘alternative’ music magazine, (though I appreciate its scope is much wider than that), you have previously stated that Independent Heroine was started as a way of discovering what culture was important to you. Does independent/alternative music & music culture hold an important place in the inspiration of your art?
I am intrinsically inspired by these things. Helping out at The Cube with gigs and meeting many travelling independent musicians has totally inspired me. And before that as a fanzine editor, who ahem did one fanzine but got in free to as many gigs as possible. Music is very important to me.

Could you explain the Being Lady Lucy project to me? Is it difficult to use yourself, and your life as art: using yourself as your subject. Is it difficult to maintain creative distance? Or is distance at odds with what you are trying to achieve with the project?
Being LL was invented to actually get away from myself, before I started that, I carried round notebooks and couldn't stop writing in them. I am 100 % happy with using myself as the subject. And every portrait I do is my interpretation of that situation.

You describe your ‘Being Lady Lucy’ project as your ‘Biggest everyday masterpiece’. How important is ‘the everyday’ in your art?
I am really inspired by the everyday. Once I found the everyday really monotonous and boring, so then I decided to make art in the everyday and became happier.

In incorporating culture in, and as your art; and with culture being such a hugely political entity (both in terms of the cultural being political, and political action occurring within culture), to what extent do you see your art as political &/or as political commentary?
I think the personal can be very political and I am certainly someone who has this great desire to be understood. I guess I look at it like this. If I can understand the world then the world can understand me. But I think I am very culturally political in what and how I choose to do things. Some of its not even intentional, it's just worked out that way over time.

A large part of your art contains an autobiographical element: whether this be the ‘Being Lady Lucy’ project, or your blog /zines, as well as a large public element: being present at/running workshops, exhibiting in public places such as women’s groups/festivals & art shops, or simply encouraging posters/artwork to be put up in individual’s localities.
Such autobiographical ‘public’ art made by women seems to attack the public/private binary, whereby women are traditionally seen to represent the private, men the public. The visibility of women’s lives ‘out there’ in the public sphere, within art such as yours sees women’s lives being taken seriously. How important is this visibility to you and your art?
I obviously work with people a lot of the time, so it's just natural for me to be like this. I am a classic example of extrovert/ introvert. I am now finding myself more in need of hiding away and getting on with things myself, just so I can do that. I have spent the last few years really involved. There are some projects I want to do which involve a great deal of concentration and time on my own. Obviously tho the other part of my work sees me as organiser, teacher, performer which I need to be visible. And yes, this is important.

I am particularly inspired and intrigued by the title of your ‘Being you, Being Special’ project, which involves a collation of two years worth of drawing people you meet, as well as a collaboration with women whose talents are used to create something new within your art. This seems like such a powerful message about the independence and empowerment of individual women as important/special creative & social entities.
I like it when people get together to do stuff. I like the idea of people meeting and doing special projects or assignments together. I have been very inspired by things like Learning To Love You More project. Where people did special assignments.I am always trying to encourage people to do Being You, Being Special. It's more of an idea at this stage, an idea that has been around for a long time. But still an idea.

How conscious is your use of art as a drive for social transformation, with reference to this project?
This project is about working with my muses, or turning around the idea of a muse as a silent and still part. But also uber collaboration.

What are your favoured artistic materials/tools/mediums to work with?
3B pencils. Charisma colour pencils. Blog, sketchbooks, art books, photocopiers, Indian ink.

Your involvement in art also spills into the film/film making/film promotion field. I’m really interested by the 2003 film programme you curated at the Bristol Spike Island Open Studios event, entitled ‘The female protagonists of the films and filmmakers we discovered’. What, and who did this programme consist of?
Female protagonists of the films and filmmakers we found were films that I collated, that I had seen or I knew about who had female leads/ subjects. Some were made by women, others not. It was a nod back my first foray into feminist ideas, which was my Fine Art Degree thesis. "Annie Hall, Female Protagonist ofSeventies sex comedy". It involved Lisa Brooks’, ‘Two Girls Kissing’, Annabelle Other's ‘The Head Librarian’ and Joff Winterheart’s ‘Violet’. I drew special programmes, and was very excited to present these films as a programme. It was really like a mini residency for me with Spike Island. I sat down there for a day and drew the programmes. Unfortunately the art gallery hadn't thought about showing proper films that needed to be heard on a decent sound system. I became interested in films because I always have been and started working at The Cube. When I asked people about putting on a feminist film festival there was outrage, amongst certain individuals. I like to think that things have changed now.

How was the 2005 Independent Heroines Film Festival?
Well, Independent Heroines 2005 happened and we had some great stuff, speakers, performers, music, including pro sk8 boarders, a burlesque dancers, a music video making workshop, debates. We are really pleased with the content we managed to programme for it. It somehow it all seemed to come together. Take a look at the programme at:

How important is the promotion of female and feminist filmmakers to you?
Very important. It’s the reason we do Independent Heroines.

Why do you feel it is important to take cultural and artistic production into your own hands: creating what you can, with the tools that you have, rather than relying on the popular culture and media that is already out there?
Most importantly because what I wish to represent or be interested in what isn't already out there in the way I would wish, and through doing stuff like Independent Heroines I wish to change this or at least try and make it more represented.

No comments: