Interview with Nottingham based artist John Lowerson

He makes life sized cardboard Daleks (photo included!) and actual kayaks, amongst other interesting things. John is a forensic occupational therapist and thankfully an artist too. There are some real classic paintings in his recent collection, and even if there’s not something for the most particular enthusiasts amongst you then you can always commission John to bring your old car back to life in a painting or even celebrate the fact it’s still standing! His motorbikes seem to want to tell great stories but this yellow VW campervan in “..Just a Mirror for the Sun..” is my personal favourite, although I’m quite drawn to the Landrovers too, as they get to see places other cars don’t. Ok, I like them all!

Art Pistol (AP): What’s the first thing you can remember painting?
 It was probably aeroplanes, but I remember being influenced by the wonderful illustrations in Primary School representing the letters of the alphabet, designs dating back through the austerity of the early 1950s I imagine.

AP: When did you first realise you were an artist?
John: I’m still working on that one, sometimes, some days, briefly you feel that way, but most times, not! I feel that creativity has always been there however, I feel it is strongly linked with curiosity and experimenting to find out things and that comes from an early age. It can be experimenting with just about anything, not just traditional materials connected with visual arts, playing with batteries and wire can do it too, its playing isn’t it?


Recycle for art or be exterminated!


AP: How would you describe your art to someone that has never seen it before?
John: These days I could describe it very simply as watercolour landscape, contemporary images. Prior to this body of work it would be three dimensional painting or art for big places, perhaps installation pieces for specific places, sculptural.

AP: Is your work on any famous person’s wall?
John: I’m not really sure about this, perhaps not. A large ungainly piece was once shipped to the USA I can’t remember why, presumably a private collection. The French Oil Company ELF bought a large abstract canvas a long time ago for the reception area of their head offices in Cheshire, on reflection it was rather a corporate piece, it was probably chosen because something of the colour represented the colours of ELF at the time. On reflection, no it hasn’t.

AP: If you had the opportunity to change something in the art industry what would it be?
John: I really wouldn’t do that, it’s not possible anyway, it would be like stemming the flow of life itself. Creativity is always going on and always will. It is a ‘live’ thing like it or not. It reflects what is just about to go on in the world or has just happened. As an industry, it has to survive, its right that it has a price, and its right that it is bided and bartered for as a commodity, it gives it a value of sorts. If anything at all I would like it to be considered more seriously from an educational perspective. Formally it is seen as a decorative something to do activity in our schools, and isn’t particularly valued beyond our art schools. It is viewed pretty much as a private indulgence here too, rarely having the value bestowed on it that say the sciences get, perhaps it’s because we are more literary than visually trained.

AP: Do you have any other interests or talents that you’d like to share?
John: I used to make bespoke individually designed pieces of furniture, I still make plywood kayaks for my own amusement, they’re great fun, all part of the making process, I would always be able to rewire a house or fit central heating systems as it isn’t a black art and is just common sense, being tidy methodical logical and organised – I guess that is a useful skill.

AP: Describe yourself in 3 words, one has to be a colour?
John: Often feeling Blue!

AP: Tell us your perfect scenario for painting.
John: I am not sure I understand the question. Does this mean some or all of these elements coinciding to create the ‘ideal’ conditions? Or are we looking here for things that inspire art. Whichever, if either than for me it is neither. Inspiration still only comes from the act of doing, the making process itself. But if we choose just one- location say, then I think I would go for that, maybe then a dedicated studio space I think this is the main factor that influences creativity for me. A big space would produce quite different work to say a small sitting room, or desk environment. It’s a human condition we respond to our environment. A large space might cause one to do big work… though not, necessarily it may be freezing!

AP: If you weren’t an artist you’d be..?
John: I presently work for the NHS in a forensic setting. However I used to enjoy teaching Art and Design in further education, where students are it is assumed dedicated to becoming artists or at least undergraduates. This makes for a rather exciting environment. It would be great to have a job where you choose to be where you want to be and when. Not even being self-employed allows this luxury.

AP: Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
John: Young art students get a lot of advice about being an artist these days, the financial implications and business ideals, this is undoubtedly a great thing but not something I can contribute to in anyway at all. I am not sure I would have wanted this at that time for myself though. Advice from me would not be that beneficial, I would say you have to be more than committed you have to be a full part of what it means to be an artist, you must also be forever curious.

AP: And finally, what are you working on just now?
John: I continue to produce these watercolours, pictures of a certain size, and flavour, for the moment I can do no more. They are popular with those who see them, perhaps more popular than any work I have made previously. I am working towards being an artist who works to commission, work that is done to order. That is a complete endorsement of ones work.

These represent some alternative works for me. Still serious but made for a particular reason. Life size objects made with the rather wonderful material that is free and readily available, Corrugated Cardboard! They were made just because I wanted to see if it was a good idea or not.

Challenging from an engineering point of view. The full weight of the bike for example is held up by paper straws as spokes on a wheel. An illustration of just how a real wheel works.


Building cardboard bikes



See John’s work on Art Pistol here


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