Lulu MacDonald is a long-time friend of ArtHouse Jersey, and also one of our Seed Funding artists. Now living and working as an artist and sculptor in Hamburg, she returned to the Island this summer through our residency scheme to undertake research for a new body of work. Using materials including wallpaper, plaster and even crockery, Lulu creates ornamental sculptures that explore where flatness ends and the sculptural begins.
We asked Lulu a few questions so you can all get to know her a little better!
How did you get started in your chosen practice?
I originally started at the Slade School Of Fine Art in the fine art media department as I was making animations, it wasn’t until the second year that I moved to sculpture and never budged. I think sculpture is about breathing, about moving, experiencing something, there is something so active about looking at a sculpture, something which activates the room, the viewer and in turn the work.
How do you work and what is a typical day like for you?
At the moment I have a tiny crawling child and a toddler so my day looks messy and
disorganised, I only wear beige coloured clothes as it doesn’t show sick and food spills, I have a great new hairstyle which hides grease and a very low maintenance skin routine. I take my oldest to nursery and then I work from the dining room table up until I have to pick him up. My baby joy crawls around my feet, playing with the off cuts of the sculptures I am making. Luckily I mainly use natural materials so everything is safe for her to put in her mouth. It’s a mad life but a great one. I listen to the radio and when the news is too depressing I listen to podcasts; my current favourite is anything about beavers. They will save the world.
How has Jersey shaped you as an artist?
When I think about Jersey it is my beginning, middle and end. The island is intrinsic to my practice, it is the basis for stories, it is my context, it has completely shaped me and who I am, and though I don’t live there and haven’t lived there since I was a teenager, it stays with me. Jersey was where I became an adult and it was where I felt trapped, it was paradoxical, complicated, beautiful and ugly. Now Jersey is the source of inspiration and the backdrop of stories I tell when I meet new people, it is a defining part of who I am. More recently and hopefully in the future it will/was a place where I created work and learnt new things.
What inspires you?
I am inspired first and foremost by my memories of living on Jersey as a child. The legends, the stories the landscapes, my family, the jokes, the sea, the fear. I am also inspired by stories across the world of global warming and how nature endeavours to fight.
How has an ArtHouse Jersey Seed Funding grant helped you?
I has helped me enormously. Without sounding too dramatic it has completely changed my practice and my outlook. I received the seed funding to help build some work and help fund my residency on the island. In conjunction with the residency the seed-funding provided a freedom I am not used to. It was a safe place to perform my lecture Tree Grown Children a very personal and hugely political piece of writing about the fear of becoming extinct and why it is important to carry on creating. This evening has defined my upcoming practice, it was a part of my work which I had often hidden but jersey provided a safe and nurturing space for me to share my inner most feelings. I could afford to be vulnerable and exposed and the care and kindness of [ArtHouse producer] Alice was above and beyond expectations. It has helped my physically, as I was able to create work but much more importantly, it has helped me emotionally.
What do you love most about sculpture?
Sculpture is just what suits me best. It is big and hard and challenging, and I need loads of help, it is overwhelming and unlogistical, time-intensive and bulky but it is also dreamy and light and easy and calming and exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I am so glad that my parents let me go and do this, I am eternally grateful.
What have you been most proud of achieving in your career as an artist so far?
I think after my masters when all my friends threw me a party after graduating, they saw how difficult it had been with a baby and how tired I was and I think they were proud of me and they were so kind. I think artists can be so competitive and mean to each other because we are all passionate and we all need to pay our rent, but there are also moments where I am proud to be an artist; having a career and associating myself with these talented, interesting people who want
the world to be better.
If you could give a piece of advice to an aspiring (your chosen artistic practice) what would it be?
Firstly make interesting, exciting, relevant work…. secondly get really good at talking about what it is you do, figure out what it is you are ACTUALLY trying to say and get really good at communicating it. Everything else is luck. But if you do happen to be in the right place at the right time you need to be able to tell that person what it is you do, and you need them to believe you… if they do decide to believe you and check you out and your work isn’t interesting, exciting and relevant then its your own fault. But if it is…then you are onto a winner!
What do you hope for audiences to feel when they engage with your work?
That is absolutely up to them, I am so happy that I can make work, I am able bodied, I am white, I came from a very supportive family and I was educated – I have it so easy compared to many struggling artists. It is my responsibility to be able to cope with whatever people feel about my work, good or bad. Art is subjective and emotive, I hope some people feel somethings and I hope I am not making offensive work where people in more vulnerable positions are not annoyed or cross with my practice. I strive to think about what kind of body I have in order to be able to make like I do, I am not a victim and I chose to be an artist so I have to be ok with how people feel about the work, good and or bad.