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Here is the latest edition of Behind the Art
Providing insight into the lives of artists, in their own words.
It can be lonely being an artist and we hope sharing other artists journey will help other artists and creatives.
In this second edition we get some insight from Richard Lees.
Where do you find continued inspiration?
At the moment, writers and photographers are inspiring my current print project, provisionally titled ‘Writing Dangerously’. It focuses on two women writers, Mary McCarthy and Arundhati Roy, who showed the courage of their convictions in going to front line war zones – Vietnam for McCarthy and central India for Roy – to find the truth buried beneath the lies and propaganda, and to write honestly about the realities they discovered.
What do you hope to achieve?
Well, as well as raising awareness about two important writers, I wanted to create images of people resisting, of communities fighting back against the brutal onslaught of the American war machine or against and the corporate looting of natural resources. For both the North Vietnamese and the Naxalites in central India, their political struggle includes the struggle to preserve their country from destruction, and I wanted to somehow depict their positive, often spiritual connection to the land they are fighting for.
What are your struggles?
When I started as a street artist designing posters for Rock Against Racism, finding ways to achieve direct impact with radical imagery was always the main campaign objective.
Now I’m finding broader themes – cultural privilege, alienation, resistance are areas I want to explore in my print designs.
As a print-maker, the creative process involves finding new ways to engage in ideological struggles.
Have you achieved what you want?
Of course not!
It’s a process, art and life, life and art, culture, language, identity, being creative within those experiences. I’m finding my voice as a print designer, and it’s a voice that changes and tries to express different things in different ways.
I’m finding my voice as a print designer, and it’s a voice that changes and tries to express different things in different ways.
At the moment, I’m learning more about the possibilities of Lino cutting which is really exciting. And, for me, reaching a wider audience without compromising my principles is an ongoing ambition.
How did they achieve your success?
I’ve had to be persistent and patient in persuading venues to take an interest in what I’m doing. And I’ve had to accept that a lot of mainstream galleries won’t be interested, for one reason or another. So finding other walls to put my stuff on is fun.
I regularly out on the streets to get my work out and my work has gone into schools and museums as well as galleries over the last two years.
I’m hoping that, with my current, more literary project I can interest libraries in exhibiting.
I’ve always believed that what I’m doing as a print-maker is worth looking at and thinking about.
belief in what I’m doing is a powerful motivation.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Hull City of Culture 2017 has been a eye opening and eye watering experience. Actually, I’ve come to think that CoC, the acronym, really stands for Control or Crush, or Corporate over Community.
I’m certainly not alone in thinking this, yet the really frustrating thing is that this critical point of view is simply ignored by mainstream cultural commentary because it doesn’t fit with the cheerleading narrative.
Time for change.
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