Next up: Poppy Lennox – FAD Magazine


In the latest edition of FAD’s column highlighting upcoming contemporary artists, Lee Sharrock interviews Poppy Lennox. London-based artist Poppy Lennox creates one-of-a-kind pieces that combine hand-stitched elements with bold typography, contemporary slogans, a striking palette and geometric representations of flora and fauna.

Her bold typographic style has led to numerous private and commercial commissions, and she recently designed a limited-edition artist label for Berry Bros & Rudd.

She incorporates gold leaf, embroidery and paint in her works on paper and wood, and explores the interplay between symmetry and geometry found in nature. Lennox studied Fine Art at Newcastle University and is part of the London Creative Network/Space Studios Professional Development Program. She exhibited at The Other Art Fair in October 2021 and in February 2022 she will lead an art workshop with mental health charity Hospital Rooms.

Lennox shares how her interest in sewing began after studying the work of Rachel Whiteread and Colombian artist Doris Salcedo for her university thesis, and how she combines design-driven typography with a more painterly element in her work.

Poppy Lennox

Lee Sharrock: What was your path to becoming an artist, and can you briefly summarize your work and the meaning behind it?

Poppy Lennox: There are two parts to my practice: a typographic style focused on design, and then my more painterly work. With both, the mediums I use are paper and wood, 24k gold leaf, paint and thread. Colors are often bright and bold and the use of gold leaf creates rich movement and texture.

I have long had a fascination with stitching in unexpected materials and some of my earliest works were a series of stitched Polaroid photographs. I kept them as a reminder of where I started my journey in the wire. Sewn wooden pieces and works on paper followed soon after.

I want to maintain a curiosity for the experimentation of materials and method; see how I can manipulate shape and form with the use of my materials. Experimentation has led me to my current, slightly unusual sewing style, and I hope I will always allow myself the freedom to see where the work is then taken.

I am drawn to geometry, color and light. Often drawing inspiration from patterns in nature, I am interested in how objects in compositions interact and the tension in the space between them. Symmetry plays an important role in my work and I often explore how the sequencing of repeating patterns creates order and balance, but also leans towards a sense of control and tension.

While I think I work intuitively – sensing how a piece develops in relation to colors and composition – my work is geometric and orderly in style and therefore has to be predetermined on some level. Stitch the lines, drill the holes in the wood and connect with colored blocks and yarn. I like this tension of intuition and predetermination.

My journey to becoming an artist started with the most wonderful elementary school teacher who encouraged art and creativity in all aspects and gave me a thirst to create. After school I completed an art foundation and then to Newcastle University to study fine art. The first year was like another basic course and so I got to experiment with many different mediums and methods – screen printing, soldering, woodworking, photography – like a big proving ground! I have focused on sculpture and over the past year I have been performing and my last show was a series of video installations – a lesson in which you never know where your work will take you!

Once I left Newcastle and moved to London I worked in a number of creative industries. for a production company, in scenography, at the Barbican Center and in development for curators and artists. During this period, I continued to create works and sell a few pieces. Around 2017, a curator friend who was visiting me at home and looking at my work suggested that I think about focusing on my artistic practice and devoting myself to it more full-time. It was the right time to do it.

In terms of selling my work, Instagram has been an integral platform for me and how I started spreading my work. In 2020 I was asked to create the 5th limited edition artist label for London wine shops Berry Bros & Rudd‘Good Ordinary Claret’, succeeding Paul Smith and Luke Edward-Hall. It was a fantastic project which led to a number of other opportunities and commissions. Last year I was part of the London Creative Network / Space Studios professional development program which helped immensely during the pandemic to feel connected to other artists. I recently attended The Other Art Fair in London in October 2021 which was a great success so hopefully I’ll do it again soon. I am excited to be hosting a workshop with Hospital Rooms, an arts and mental health charity, in February 2022 and in September I will be doing a joint show with Dawn Beckles at 99 Projects Space in Kensal Rise. Hopefully it will be an exciting year!

Detail of Poppy Lennox Design © Demelza Lightfoot Photography

LS: Can you tell me a bit about your artistic practice, your inspirations, the materials you use and the place where you create your works?

PL: I describe what I do as “working with thread” rather than embroidery, because I don’t consider myself an embroiderer. I use a traditional and centuries-old method, but I create something current and contemporary. My interest in sewing began after studying the work of Rachel Whiteread and Colombian artist Doris Salcedo for my thesis. A particular body of work by Salcedo titled “Unland” fascinated me. The work brings together two different tables, creating an elongated shape, with human hair and raw silk sewn through thousands of small holes drilled into the surfaces. This process of sewing this delicate material across a hard surface and binding it is extraordinary.

Sewing my work can take many hours and this meditative process is an important part of every job; not only because it alludes to this idea of ​​repetition and sequencing, but also that by stitching across the hard surface of a wooden “canvas”, the subject of each piece becomes eternally linked to it. The resulting effects are rich, textured works that appear to float in three dimensions from their surface.

Inspiration comes to me in many forms. My eyes are still glued to the stems – I see patterns, symmetries and colors everywhere I go, and my phone is full of notes and pictures of pretty random things! My recent work has explored the geometry of nature – specifically bird wings. I was interested in the idea of ​​flight and movement which is then balanced by the forms bound in their webs of wood – bound and contained somehow. I am currently reading a book called ‘Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle’ by Clare Hunter. The importance of embroidery being an integral part of the story – the needle being another form of memory and storytelling. This is something I would like to explore further.

I have a studio at my home in Kensal Rise, at the top of the house and overlooking the rooftops of London. Since we’re on a hill, on a clear day, I can see across London to the Shard. I like having a studio at home but as my work gets bigger and more ambitious I think I might need more space.

Poppy Lennox Design © Demelza Lightfoot Photography

LS: Women have always been underrepresented in the art world, but things seem to be changing gradually. Have you encountered any obstacles as a woman in the art world?

PL: Not directly, no. On the contrary, I feel inclined to create the obstacles myself. I believe women more generally suffer from trust issues and tend to question their abilities and decisions a lot more. I really think it’s a balance and I like to be contemplative and take my time. It’s when it switches to avoidance that I have to control myself!

LS: Would you describe yourself as an illustrator or an artist?

PL: It’s an interesting question and I don’t think I’ve ever thought about defining my work. I guess I illustrate compositions that are a figment of my imagination and so maybe I’m a bit of both?

www.poppylennox.com

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Lee Sharrock

Lee Sharrock is a global creative PR consultant, independent curator, artist and contributor to FAD, Creative Review, F22, STATE and Soho House Magazine. Lee studied at Norwich University of the Arts, University College London (UCL) and Universita di Bologna, before embarking on a career in the art world and the advertising industry. She began her career at Sotheby’s Auctioneers and worked at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), M&C Saatchi, Timothy Taylor Gallery and Saatchi & Saatchi before launching Lee Sharrock PR as a bespoke cultural PR consultancy. . Lee is responsible for international communications for the homes of the Serviceplan group. of communication in the world.www.leesharrock.co.uk

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