Emerging contemporary artist Lucy Namayanja is steadily becoming a household name on the London art scene. Her distinct style of work is inspired by her difficult childhood and various aspects of nature. We recently caught up with the Ugandan-born artist to learn about her work and influences. View the interview below:
What inspires your work?
My Life experiences, My surroundings, particularly nature and other artist Also Da Vinci, Picasso, Edvard Munch, Goya, M.C. Escher and Van Gough.
You studied interior design and architecture but have since gone on to focus on contemporary art. At what point in your life did you decide that you wanted to make this transition?
In 2011 after my course I started to produce many drawings, experimenting with different ideas and techniques, I also started studying art history and found I connected with “Art Nouveau” because of its association with Nature. The artists lives fascinated me too. I felt a kindred spirit with them. I had previously designed clothes, furniture and interiors but I felt I had discovered myself with art. It just felt right and I have since never looked back.
How would you generally describe your style of art?
My style of art is Modern art. I experiment with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art with a narrative which is characterised for the traditional arts towards abstraction which is often called contemporary art.
‘Love’ is one of your most recent pieces. Can you describe the process and inspiration behind it?
Love is also one of my favorite pieces, I am interested in the human mind, how we are, also how we operate as individuals. I sketch first as notes not to forget the idea and then while painting the final piece the work changes a lot as if someone is holding my hand and guiding me to what to do but I am aware although almost without control. When I finish the painting it makes sense because all the work is from my child hood and life experience from being isolated and having all these battles with my self and my surroundings, questions about life and human sufferings and where is God, I am longing for him.
‘Myself and others’ is an interesting piece that seems to convey more than just a self portrait. Can you explain the premise behind this piece?
It reflects on how way I feel of being something and nothing. The obsession of what one calls beautiful and of the others wanting to abuse me and kill me for what has been part of an on going battle all my life, from men and women. Both my mother and my self have at times tried to self destruct without a care for this same body that others would love to idolize. It’s also my way of saying man kills you, nature kills you and you kill your self. I am just a landscape to be stepped on.
You were born in Uganda and are now living in the UK. Would you say these places have any influence on your style of work?
Yes they both influence my work and myself. In Uganda I was stuck with a lot of questions as if being grounded, there was nothing to compare with and I was always longing for more and wanting to see the glories of heaven. World travels and being in the UK answered most of my questions. I felt at home without feeling singled out because of my wild ways and what interested me. Although I am still a country girl I am also an extreme person. I like to be both.
Are there any challenges that come with being a contemporary artist?
Yes there are many, especially my choice of combining technology with craft. Curators, collectors and the public are taking a while to accept and trust technology as a medium of art, just as photography took time to be accepted as an art form, yet art and science are linked together. Art is been here forever and technology is also here to stay. An artists life is very different now. Its about creating a brand, promotion, personality and style. You have to be “out there” exhibiting, attending openings. workshops, interviews, working very hard on social media. Everyone wants to know just as much about you as a personality as and they want to know about your art.
Are there any artists that inspire you?
Art inspires us all. For me Francis Bacon, Van gough, Picasso, Goya, Edvard Munch, Courbet are my inspirations and many more. The list is big.
What are your other interests besides art?
I love food, I cook the same way I make art. Children they are amazing and they have been a very big part of my life, babies make me melt, antiques, vintage clothes, ancient places. People, music and nature.
What advice would you give to new artists just starting out?
In the beginning exhibit as much as you can, sometimes you may not be in the best place but I have meet some important people in unusual places. Start a guest book and invite them all. Listen to feedback, it will be useful one day. Networking and social media are essential, introduce yourself and speak to as many people as possible. Support and interact with other artists.