INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Lorraine Loots
Having recently featured Lorraine Loots’s brand-new collection, A Thousand Lovers’ Eyes, we decided to catch up with the Cape Town-based artist to find out more about her artistic journey, from the hugely successful 365 Paintings For Ants series to the present.
What have you most enjoyed about your artistic journey so far?
It’s hard to say – there are so many things to enjoy! Being able to have a studio of my own, within walking distance from my home, feels like a real gift. It’s such a sacred space to me – it feels like a sanctuary where I can be alone, bring my ideas to life, or sometimes just stare into space and take some deep breaths when life gets overwhelming. Working for myself also means that I’m able to be flexible with my time, so that I can be there for my three-year-old when he’s having an off day or needs extra attention. Being able to come up with an idea and then do whatever needs to be done to realise it – and then see it come full circle – nothing excites me more.
How would you say your style has changed since you created your first miniature painting series back in 2013?
I think the biggest thing has been the switch from it being a side project (squeezed in between 11 other jobs), to being my sole occupation. Amongst other things, it means I’m able to devote so much more time to my work, which means that the results are far more detailed and considered.
You never planned on becoming an artist. When did you realise that 365 Paintings For Ants was more than just a side project?
The moment I was making enough money to quit all my other jobs, I knew it was time to fully commit and see where this thing took me.
Is there a specific painting or collection of paintings you’ve created over the years that really stands out for you?
I really like my 2015/2016 collection (Potluck 100) – it’s pretty much a compendium of most of my favourite things.
You’ve exhibited across the globe – where have you most enjoyed showcasing your work, and why?
That’s a tough question – each show has come with its own gifts. I have to say though, my latest show in London felt very special. It was a solo project and completely self-funded (as opposed to working with a gallery). From the idea behind it and the bigger picture down to every last detail, everything was an expression of the vision I had for the show. It was the biggest body of work I’d ever exhibited (over 900 pieces), marking the end of an era (it was the last time these three collections would ever be shown), and I got to work on it with my husband and best friend (Artist Admin) so that I could really focus on all the fun bits while they were sorting everything out behind the scenes. I was there every day for the week it was open, and got to connect with hundreds of people who had supported my work for years, or had just discovered it. It was such a gift. It felt like one of the biggest milestones in my life.
You’ve just launched a brand-new collection-in-the-making in the form of A Thousand Lovers’ Eyes, a concept you’ve been finessing for three years. What are you most looking forward to about working on this project?
Just before I launched the project, I’d been so carried away finalising every little detail in the design and craft of the pendant: the logistics of importing the pendants from Sydney, and how the commissioning process would work, and how to price the pieces, how to ship them, package them, and add as many layers of meaning as possible. It was only when the first orders started coming in, and people were sharing the stories behind the eyes they wanted me to paint that I realised I would get to paint the eye of a husband that had passed away a few years ago for his mourning wife, and a baby that was born prematurely (at 27 weeks) and was now flourishing, and an 11-year-old beloved rescue pup that was recently diagnosed with cancer, and a husband’s eye for his adoring wife… I get emotional just thinking about it now. I have a little cry pretty much every time I’m about to start an eye and I read the story behind it! But it feels like a beautiful privilege. It feels like I’m adding meaning to people’s lives, and that adds meaning to mine. It’s weird, in a way I thought I’d be intimidated by the thought of painting 1 000 eyes, but right now I’m looking forward to (and enjoying) every single one. Maybe chat to me again in a few years though!