In early 2020, having just moved to St Leonards-on-Sea, in East Sussex, with her family, artist Elizabeth Power found herself housebound due to a bad bout of Covid-19. Her confinement – and her new home – gave her the idea to create a painting series focusing on her domestic surroundings.
Power’s painted series features plant still lives, home interiors, window and garden scenes, and local landscapes in the south coast seaside town. They are bold, vibrant and loosely abstract works, which transport you to hotter climes and make you think of holidays and the joy of discovering new places.
‘Like everyone in the first lockdown, my only escape was a daily walk around the neighbourhood, which was a tonic, so I took endless photos of houses or parks I found interesting and worked from these’, says Power. ‘I also loved exploring still life in the different hours of the day at home, using shadows and colour to try and capture the time spent at home,’ she says.
Having moved from London to the south coast, Power says she was inspired by the sense of space around her, and when she regained her energy, she was on turbo drive and made multiple works quickly. Her acrylic paintings have a celebratory, optimistic feel through their exuberant shapes, searing hues, and contrast of light. They are mostly people-free and feature long shadows, which give them a quiet and still atmosphere.
‘All of my favourite artists play with colour, and I find that in this series using a heightened colour palette also allows for escapism,’ Power explains. ‘When people were trapped at home and worried about the pandemic, I wanted to create works that could transport them to anywhere in the world, somewhere tranquil and away from reality.’
Citing Henri Matisse, Lois Dodd, Alex Katz and Pierre Bonnard as sources of inspiration, Power adds: ‘They have all painted views out of their windows, gazing into their gardens or played with shadows and light in home scenes with stunning use of colour… They make you want to jump into the paintings and that is something I inspire to do,’ she says.
Power’s 2020 to 2021 Lockdown series is presented in a new, risograph-printed book, which comes with a pull-out risograph print and some full-colour (non risograph) imagery of the paintings. Risograph has a screen-printed look and softens Power’s bold hues while highlighting the layers in her paintings.
Power won the opportunity to turn her series into a book in the risograph medium after submitting the series to an open call by Hastings-based book bindery and print studio Unit 33. ‘I thought [risograph] was a great idea as would offer something new to the viewer, a new way to experience my work and to play around with the colours,’ she says.