31 Dec

Mrs H Sings – The Book

I got to know Harriette, Ted and the other members of the Singalong Band after Ted’s partner bought a painting of mine at the Battersea Art Fair. Ted rang me and asked if I would design an image for their CD cover, and subsequently I also created the cat logo for them.

I first met them at the Union Chapel in Islington. They were performing and over a thousand people turned up. They had used quite a bit of my artwork without asking, which made me laugh. I thought it was great to hear lovely music that both children and parents enjoyed.

They approached me last Christmas to ask if I was interested in creating a children’s book with their lyrics and my images. I thought the best way to join the songs together visually was to create some additional characters. The cat was already there, and Harriette had used the image of herself in a white dress and umbrella, so I invented a monkey to join the cat, so that the cat could have a partner in crime as it where.

I designed the book with an image in my mind of a child in the back seat of a car on a long journey. The book is aimed at children between three and six, but the band have been quite insistent that the song lyrics would also accompany the illustrations so that older readers could follow along.

I liked the idea of creating lots of different scenario’s that could be shared. I put various things in the illustrations that amused me, including a granny who goes on a cruise, a same sex couple, someone covered in tattoo’s, a woman flying a plane and people from all over the world. In the illustration for the song City Bells, I put in images from the train journey up from Sussex, via Blackfriars to the Tate. I teach a couple of days a week in a prison and put in one of the officers from a specialist wing of the prison.

Three of the band – Harriette, Ted and Ali – came down to Sussex on several occasions to look at progress. They crowd funded the whole project, which gave us carte blanche to do exactly what we wanted to do. The funding campaign started the day Brexit happened, and I worried that we would never reach our target. Toby Jones came on board which was an endorsement. It was completely addictive watching the campaign, and the target was reached and then surpassed – I think we got around 300 backers in the end. The book looks great now, and you can buy it on their website.

30 Dec

The Fluffy tapes – ten years on

I have been able to secure the services of the ideal interviewer, an imaginary figure called Fluffy The Bunny who has figured in my work. It follows an interview we did 10 years ago.

Fluffy: I can’t quite believe that its ten years since you last had a solo show.

Lamb:   Well neither can I. In the last ten years I have continued to paint, show in places, and teach a couple of days a week. I do seem much busier than I was ten years ago.

Fluffy: In what way?

Lamb: I continue to paint pictures, but in the last ten years I have also started a design label called the Feral Housewife. This year I illustrated a children’s book called Mrs H Sings whilst continuing to teach a couple of days a week.

Fluffy: Are you painting the same things?

Lamb: The paintings evolve, but they are freer. I have become more adroit at coming to conclusions quicker and with more assurance. However I still find it impossible not to allow humour and strands of narrative to creep into my work.

Fluffy: Tell me about the graphic work?

Lamb: Well as you know Fluffy, I have had quite a dialogue with you. I get a guilty enjoyment of making cards and pictures featuring you in my studio, and sniggering at them. The design work is beginning to have more of an impact on my paintings, making my line flow in a simpler way. I am hovering on dramatically reinventing it in painting.

Fluffy: I notice that some of your design work also features a lot of text?

Lamb: Yes, I have played with making text part of my work. It continues to be a challenge but is also evolving. A lot of calligraphers and designers get quite anal about the perfect lettering etc. – my approach instead is to look back to the Punk movement and the Beat Generation for inspiration, and try and make words work as pictures.

Fluffy: What about the children’s book?

Lamb: My work can have a somewhat dark sense of humour to it, and so I had to work quite hard to soften this whilst keeping the childlike sense of fun you want in a children’s book. It was an enjoyable challenge, and working with the Singalong Band to create the images for the book of songs was exciting. I would quite like to explore it further with another book or even contributing to an animation for kids.

Fluffy: What happened about the Prison series and the dark garden series?

Lamb: I am still developing them, although I hanker after a larger studio and more time. In a recent show with Chris Milton I used fairy tales as inspiration and examined the complicit arrangements between the various protagonists’ in each story. I used Velasquez as inspiration.

Fluffy: What about the drawing and painting?

Lamb: Over the last ten years I have sometimes revisited my past by playing at being an academic painter of objects, although I think this period in my work has come to an end. Drawing from life is important and I continue to attend regular life classes.

Fluffy: How do feel about your work?

Lamb: Art has given me a lifelong enjoyment of looking and making art. It still continues to intrigue me, I would like to spend more time doing it, and I am glad that I still show work and sell.

Fluffy: What is next for you?

Lamb: I believe my work has got better, stronger and there are still new ideas and subjects that I would like to explore. I have a show coming up in May at St. Anne’s Galleries – people can contact me if they want to come.