30 Dec

The Fluffy Interview

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.

Fluffy: How do you begin a painting?

Lamb: I always keep a sketchbook in my bag and often jot down ideas, writers or poets that have inspired me, and a lot of observed sketches. My work is underpinned by observational drawing, sometimes photographs. Most paintings arrive after a gestation, a fight, a struggle, but I always look for clarity, a sense of design, colour and narrative: you find your own voice as a painter by a process of elimination. A painting arrives after a lot of looking.

Fluffy: Tell me about your abstract images.

Lamb: I trained in printed textiles and fine art, and have often felt that a sense of pattern and colour is something that I should pay more attention to. I love buying paints, looking at the names, Venetian Red, Burnt Sienna, Veronese Green, Prussian Blue, Rose Madder, and making paintings that are just about playing colour against another colour, how one colour can make another colour recede or scream.

The series of drawings and paintings that evolved were done over quite a long period, coming into the studio, observing and then changing a small bit of a painting, often it does work, and sometimes it does not, which appeals to the gambler in me.

The idea of meditating before the image as the Japanese apparently do before making a woodcut appeals to me too. The little green paintings in this show are about shapes that interconnect with each other, they are about watching insects, flowers and leaves slowly moving on the top of a pond in Africa.

Fluffy: Tell me more about the imagery.

Lamb: I teach part-time at Lewes Prison, and find the landscape of greys, the flint walls, the labyrinth of passages, the opening of doors powerful imagery. We ran an inspiring Art Summer School this year. In fact, Fluffy you have been in the Prison as part of an illustration project with a group of guys.

Fluffy: How do you arrive at the titles?

Lamb: Well, I did live in Newhaven for a while, lots of things happened there, the new build construction was a bit like watching a very menacing choreograph of a grim ballet, the coastguard helicopter flying overhead, birds flying in and out, and the large ferry coming and going. I love the tones and the activity of the scrap heap. ‘The Newhaven of My Mind’ is taken from a poet called Lawrence Ferlinghetti who wrote ‘A Coney Island of my Mind.”

Fluffy: Which artists do you admire and where do you get your inspiration?

Lamb: I collect tin toys, robots, plastic virgins and other religious icons. I like objets trouve, tourist tat, graffiti and paper fruit wrappers. I admire Goya, Phillip Guston, Gillian Ayres, Sonia Lawson, Paul Nash, Frank Auerbach, Ken Kiff, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leon Kossoff, Peter Doig, and certainly some contemporary artists from Africa.

Fluffy: What might you do next?

Lamb: I would like to develop the Prison series, and I am thinking about a dark garden series.

Fluffy: What about me?

Lamb: Well Fluffy, without you and a sense of humour one might as well give up.