How great to have a chance to feature one of our favourite artists, Lorna Rose. Lorna did the amazing bus sketches that moved us so, with their portraits of life as it is lived. There are no bus journeys to be undertaken right now so Lorna has been working away in her garden with her pens and inks and pianola rollers and more...
OUTSIDELEFT: Lorna! Thank you for sharing your incredible plantworks with us. They are truly magical. Please don't tell me you don't just draw and paint them, but grow them too?
LORNA ROSE: I do grow in our garden at home and at the allotment down the road. I have sown seeds for years, but age seems to be pulling me further and further into my passion for plants. That, and our love for food, and despair for Brexit has recently been driving this focus.
OUTSIDELEFT: By dint of this conversation, you’re a survivor… have there been any moments in the past year where you didn't think you'd make it? What have you done to stay safe?
LORNA ROSE: Oddly enough, I have grown into isolation. I have learned to be productive with movable finishing lines and directions of travel. Only having myself to answer to from a career point of view, is a burden I should have acknowledged way back. The allotment has been a sanctuary that has naturally provided space and social distance. This has kept me safe physically and soothed mentally.
OUTSIDELEFT: What about what felt like a dangerous moment?
LORNA ROSE: I don't fear dying, I am very lucky. But because of changing work situations and funding sources in education (where I earn money) I will always be in danger of having to take on work which doesn’t give me any creative expression. Soul destroying. This unfortunately is not a ‘moment’, it will go on for the foreseeable future. Another element of being a self-employed artist that is always present.
OUTSIDELEFT: I've really felt a surge of community spirit that just wasn't present before. Our Street WhatsApp group is now less preoccupied with persecuting car owners that can't park straight… What about where you are?
LORNA ROSE: Same, I have got to know the people I live around. We too have a street WhatsApp group, have swapped furniture, shared gluts of fruit and veg, advised and supported each other, which is brilliant and possibly how it should have been, but wasn’t. The street now does a weekly food bank collection which I think is great.
OUTSIDELEFT: Did you make your own masks?
LORNA ROSE: Yes way. Sewing is a passion and a massive part of my artistic practice. Our lovely friend Zoe also sent us some homemade ones by post. Hers are my favourite.
OUTSIDELEFT: You're drawing, you're painting, you're… working on a tapestry type of thing?
LORNA ROSE: I have a really exciting opportunity to show my stitched drawings in Tokyo this year. These pieces are stitch and collage on pianola rolls that can be up to 10 metres long and, like waiting for seeds to germinate, take a really long time for me to compose, design and create. They feel so personal too, like a secret part of me. I had a funded invitation to go over to Japan with the artwork but Covid-19 has put a stop to that.
OUTSIDELEFT: Like, what!? How does that even work?
LORNA ROSE: This is a pianola roll which are the music sheets for the automatic pianos of the old days. The holes are the musical notes and designate the tune. I have attached an information video.
I stitch in the readymade holes. The Japanese link is that I am fascinated by the Japanese wood prints and format of the scroll work and have an ongoing relationship with Joshibi University in Tokyo. In my mind there are so many correlations between this work and Japanese art forms/crafts.
OUTSIDELEFT: Totally A-S-T-O-N-I-S-H-I-N-G. Send me a postcard from Japan. But let's move on... Let's get back to my small world. Unlock anxiety. My psychiatrist tells me it's a thing, is it a thing for you?
LORNA ROSE: Yes although only short lived. I can manage anxiety with gardening, drawing, stitching and walking. I have been trying to take regular sanity walks with one other person, as stated in the regulations. I think everyone has to find their own key.
OUTSIDELEFT: At love your bus drawings as you know… have you been on a bus lately...
LORNA ROSE: As a household of non-drivers the fact that we haven’t been on the buses for months and months has made us feel even deeper in the clutches of isolation.
When the restraints were lessened last week my friend drove me to a garden centre off the beaten track. It felt more like a ‘giant leap’ rather then a ‘small step’.
The buses are how I travel so the instances I capture on them will always be there for me. I’m currently thinking and experimenting with drawing other subjects I am curious about.
Lorna Rose's website