I interviewed Liza Adamczewski, painter, printer, creator of postcards, ceramics and golden triptychs. Liza told me about how she works on her art, her love of nature and rewilding projects. Liza says about her art, “Our rewilding project has really changed the way I work & the materials I use. It is present in everything I do as an artist.”
Leslie: Tell us about your #1000postcards project and what you’ve learned from painting postcards. Why do you think of it as ‘a mini holiday’?
Liza: Painting postcards is a bit like practising my scales. I have noticed that I have learnt to be more definite in my mark-making, more confident as the project goes on – going straight in with the brush from looking through the eye directly to the hand. The immediacy of my mark-making has made my painting more confident.
I have never been able to keep sketchbooks I start them. I never finish them but postcards, on the other hand are interchangeable and unbound. They make an index that can be rearranged into multiple and infinite ways. I can write information on the back. They become a scientific record that I can refer to. They can illustrate concepts depending on how one groups them.
They are a mini-holiday artistically for me because they are not grappling on a day-to-day card-to-card basis with the concepts behind my other work. So they are a mental break. The postcards are more an observation and scientific record of what the biodiversity of my land is. Because of the way we look after our land, it’s a positive thing for me every time I find a new species to paint.
My other work tends to be about sadder subject matters the loss of biodiversity and the impact we have on the natural world. I’m always interested in inviting people into this conversation through beauty. Or through our spiritual connection with nature
Leslie: What’s the relationship between your rewilding project and your art?
Liza: Our rewilding project has really changed the way I work & the materials I use. It is present in everything I do as an artist. I cannot go for a walk around my land without finding new inspiration. Before when I lived by the sea my work was about space and light but I felt it was going nowhere. Then it became more and more about climate change and loss. I moved here to save this place its sixty acres of sanctuary especially for butterflies.
Leslie: What’s the personal significance of using triptychs and icons (as well as musical icons) in your art?
Liza: I adore using religious iconography in my work because I have my most spiritual experiences when connecting with nature and have done so since I was a small child. I often think if there was a God, they would be asking us to pray less and do more to save the planet that they created. As a non-believer in any religion, I find the visual language of Christianity extremely useful in helping me to express my ideas. Throughout the history of art and religion, images have always been used to educate people or to get a message across. Triptychs and gold have played a major part in this. The deep thoughts that humans have directed towards altarpieces have saturated these things with meaning
I believe many people have a deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Gold for instance, which I’m obsessed with, has always been a way since pre-history for mankind to raise something to the level of the gods. It symbolises the precious, the divine, the eternal. In Ireland where I was born those early gold objects like the little gold boat are just sublime.
Leslie: How do you use ceramics and humour in your art?
Liza: Ceramics for me have always been a way of relaxing. I adore early English Delft but it’s so special one wouldn’t want to use it every day for fear of breakages. So I decided to start making my own. I like to have the handmade in my home. Old pieces of furniture, hand-painted, pottery, hand-painted tiles. I enjoy having things that I made specifically for my home that reflect my interests. Humour makes life bearable and is needed literally in this day and age just to survive.
Leslie: How do subjectively experience the process of painting birds?
Liza: When I am painting birds, I feel like I am growing wings and escaping.
When I am painting birds, I feel free. When I’m painting birds I can pour my emotion into it, I can think about life, death, wind, air, space, freedom, weightlessness .
I was dreaming once that I was flying, I ran down towards the sea. In the dream I was near the Seven Sisters in Sussex, a place I know well , and when I launched myself off the chalk white cliff I looked down at the sea. The sun was behind me and my shadow on the surface of the water was the shadow of a bird.
Maybe I was a bird, or I will become a bird. Maybe the flight of a bird will always be something that humans reach for to feel the impossible lightness of a free mind.
Next week I interview Jeff Young, whose memoir was shortlisted for the Costa Prize
ABOUT LESLIE TATE’S BOOKS:
- Love’s Register tells the story of romantic love and climate change over four UK generations. Beginning with ‘climate children’ Joe, Mia and Cass and ending with Hereiti’s night sea journey across Oceania, the book’s voices take us through family conflicts in the 1920s, the pressures of the ‘free-love 60s’, open relationships in the feminist 80s/90s and a contemporary late-life love affair. Love’s Register is a family saga and a modern psychological novel that explores the way we live now.
- Heaven’s Rage is a memoir that explores addiction, cross-dressing, bullying and the hidden sides of families, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life. “A Robin Red breast in a Cage / Puts all Heaven in a Rage” – William Blake. You can read more about/buy Heaven’s Rage here.
- The Dream Speaks Back, written by Sue Hampton, Cy Henty and Leslie Tate, is a joint autobiography exploring imagination and the adult search for the inner child. The book looks at gender difference, growing up in unusual families and mental health issues. It’s also a very funny portrait of working in the arts, full of crazy characters, their ups and downs, and their stories. You can buy a signed copy of The Dream Speaks Back here.