3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Sussex Life today click here

Artist Liza Mackintosh on her inspiration and a return to Lewes Artwave

PUBLISHED: 09:58 29 June 2017

Liza Mackintosh on the common with her work

Liza Mackintosh on the common with her work

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

The landscape and vegetation of North Chailey have both found their way into artist Liza Mackintosh’s paintings. Duncan Hall visits her studio

At the heart of Liza Mackintosh’s work is Red House Common.

It’s where she walks her dogs and where she finds inspiration for her paintings, which break down the landscape into its simplest parts, almost to the point of abstraction. Her latest project – A Walk Towards The Heath – is set to blur the boundaries between the figurative and the abstract even further, as she pushes images of the landscape further towards abstraction. In other pieces she has incorporated physical elements of the landscape itself – bark, leaves, moss and twigs – and uses both stitching and carving to turn her 2D canvases into 3D works.

Her canvases line the walls of her naturally lit little studio, upstairs in the recently renovated St Helen’s Church, incongruous in the centre of the modern New Heritage Way housing estate in North Chailey. The Grade II listed chapel, which was built in 1931, is now a community centre, a project Liza’s mother Sarah was closely involved with. Sarah was able to secure Liza the otherwise unused space. A keen artist herself, Sarah encouraged both her daughters to explore careers in the arts. Liza’s sister Alie launched the Lewes-based women’s clothing brand Boom Boom The Label, beloved of Kim Kardashian, in 2012.

With her work illuminated by the morning sun 23-year-old Liza’s enthusiasm is palpable as she talks about her early degree work, proudly displays a pile of canvases handmade by her firefighter boyfriend Ruairidh Martin and brings out the branches, leaves and handmade nettle paper she incorporates into some of her paintings. She gradually began focusing on the natural world during her art studies, which began with her GCSEs at Chailey School, through to applied art and design at South Downs College and a foundation year at Falmouth University in Cornwall. “At Falmouth I started looking at natural forms,” she says. “I was really into drawing and I was interested in landscape.” One of her early projects was a concertina book of drawings, focusing on different angles of a periwinkle shell – inspiring her to look as closely as possible at natural forms. When she moved to the Wimbledon College of Art, from where she graduated in July 2015, her choice of natural forms was instilled in her. “At Wimbledon we had set projects we could develop into longer ideas. I did miss the countryside a lot when I was in London – especially my last year when I lived in Stratford.”

As Liza moved back to North Chailey late last year, much of her recent work reflects the wintry season with a blue and white palate. She expects this to change over the coming months. “Green shoots are popping up everywhere.”

For her forthcoming exhibition she has taken inspiration from a 2014 collection by Copenhagen artist Tal R entitled Walk Towards Hare Hill. His 37 small brightly coloured canvases were painted en plein air in three locations. “He’s not an artist who influences me, it’s more about the concept of the exhibition,” says Liza, who has chosen Red House Common as her subject. “I’ve found a few spots I quite like and I keep returning to them again and again. My favourite part of the common is in the centre – it’s quite wild and grassy with a little bit of marshland on the fringes. I sit there drawing while the dogs run around. The colours are always changing.” She takes photographs for reference, and collects interesting items to stitch into the work. “I’m interested in how the marks on branches and leaves can suggest landscape – I’m into chaos theory and the idea that shapes are constantly repeating themselves.” She has even gone so far as to study cartography to see how those shapes are magnified in a larger sense.

Another philosophical element of her work is the concept of rhizomes –that everything is connected to each other on a plateau without a centre. Anyone who has ever tried to clear bindweed from a garden bed will be familiar with the idea. Those tangled elements create a flow which is augmented by her combination of stitching and natural elements – something she hadn’t seen in artworks before. “It’s the real and recorded existing in one place.”

And it is clearly striking a chord with art lovers. Some of her work can now be seen on the walls of Hackney restaurant and wine bar Farley Macallan and was on display in Alfriston’s New Art Gallery on the High Street through April. Last year she was selected to appear in the biennial Lewes Hop Open, while her work Leaning Branch was shortlisted from more than 1,000 entries in the prestigious Lacey Contemporary Summer Arts Prize.

As for the future she is working towards her return to the Lewes Artwave festival.

“I can’t believe how much my work has changed since last year,” she says.

“I might have changed quite a bit again by the time of Artwave.” 

Good to know

Liza posts her latest work on Instagram at @lizamackintosh.

Her new show A Walk Towards The Heath will be at the Old Brewery in Lewes during the Artwave festival, which runs across Lewes and Seaford from 19 August to 3 September.

Visit www.lizamackintosh.co.uk and www.artwavefestival.org


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Yesterday, 15:34

Lewes-based Opera singer Allan Clayton tells Simone Hellyer about the new challenges of his latest role in Handel’s Saul at Glyndebourne and describes how he spends his spare time in Sussex

Read more
Mon, 12:35

The story of Prince Augustus, the only previous Duke of Sussex, is a tale of family breakdown, two illegal weddings and a heartbroken bookish and sensitive boy

Read more
Mon, 12:26

The British monarch’s personal representatives, the Lord-Lieutenants and the counties’ High Sheriffs, share their hopes for the new duchy

Read more
Friday, August 3, 2018

If you have been to a black-tie event at Goodwood House, chances are it was presided over by head butler David Edney. David tells Sussex Life how today’s butlers differ from their famous literary and television depictions and how the Duke of Richmond never ceases to surprise him

Read more
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A lifelong obsession with food led Worthing’s Kenny Tutt to apply for BBC’s MasterChef. And he only went and won it…

Read more
Monday, July 23, 2018

This year Will Furlong was the second youngest rider to compete at Badminton. It was just the latest landmark in an already illustrious career for the Battle-based equestrian

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Sussex's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search