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The Black Veil

Art Review: Louise Lahive's Process of Ending at Surface Gallery

9 May 19 words: Adrian Shaw

The Artist and her work are life-affirming and eclectic in sources and approach…

The definition that a ‘Sci-Art’ object must be both Science and Art in its essence – simultaneously. Take a peak into Louise’s sketch-note book, and you’ll find creative arts and astronomy rubbing shoulders with biology, chemistry and the bio-medical sciences – it is ‘Sci-Art’ at its best. 

Personal experience is drawn from both the artist’s life and studies. Louise has lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and Britain (trained at the University of Hertfordshire), and landed her show at Surface Gallery by submitting an MRI scan of her womb (“The experience was huge!” Louise says with feeling, when I asked her how she got her work exhibited here).

Working closely with medical and biological technicians to generate her work, DNA and ‘pairs’ are evidenced in her objects, and patterns of biological substances and structures are mounted very delicately between glass-sheets, or in huge paintings.  The most startling of these are a pair based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man: a woman with her limbs splayed in the giant circle, and pairs of biological structures on either side – a real feminist take. Another source of inspiration is SEM (Scanning Electro-Microscopy) generated images, with which Louise has increasingly used.

More recently, the artist has investigated the overlap between the Human and Natural Worlds:  two large paintings shown – one with a human with giraffe head, and alongside – a human with a bird’s head.  These works strongly resemble Egyptian Art. Louise’s interest in patterns also results with replication of machine-like marks on a surface – with occasional ‘errors’ to indicate the human element. 

Artists of significance to Louise include Eva Hesse, Lucien Freud and Stanley Spencer, but most particularly the Swedish artist, Hilma Afklimt, whose work dates from the 1900s. This last deeply inspired Louise, “giving her permission” to experiment and take risks; she feels very strongly that while working in isolation, she was thus encouraged to produce.

When a science object/idea collides with an art/human one: they synthesize and fling out their product/third way idea; this sort of germination may take a long time, and one is often unaware of the process which formulates and results in the end-product.

Lahive feels that while she came to finally succeed, she always had these ideas in her head, that from a child, there was an existing framework which has generated this process and synthesis of ideas. She says she may not have been aware of this, but that is was there, and resulted in her work and facility in its production. I was certainly impressed with her attitude, feeling, and courage: and her Workbook, with its copious notes, is a potpourri of creative inspiration – ‘vital!’ - she laughs

So don’t miss this Exhibition folks: you’ve only a few days to go, see, chat with Artist and - who knows – generate a few creative ideas yourselves!

Louise Lahive's Process of Ending is at Surface Gallery until Saturday 11 May.

Surface Gallery website

Louise Lahive:
Visual Artist living and working in North Hertfordshire
Graduated Kingston University in 1999
lived in USA for nine years before returning home to start a family
Became a fellow of the Digswell Trust in 2012
Current exhibition 'Process of Ending' started with a theme of Ancestry and images from a scanning electron microscope.
Artist has used her fathers ashes under the SEM to obtain pattern that is incorporated into the images.

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