In conversation: Linda Pearl Izan
Meet Linda Pearl Izan, a mixed media practitioner based in the United Kingdom, whose artworks focus on political, environmental, gender, and cultural themes, seamlessly combining textile techniques with mixed media, ceramics, photography, and digital elements. By employing materials that align with her messages, Izan creates impactful pieces that provoke contemplation and commentary.
Insights of an Eco Artist Team
17 de maio de 2023
As a mixed-media practitioner, can you lead us through your background and artistic practice?
My first degree was in Ceramic Sculpture where exploration went beyond traditional hand-built work and on to slip-casting, transfer printing and ceramic enamel work. I discovered the possibilities of making multiples within the disciplines of casting and printmaking. This move to multiples allowed me to experiment, free up expectations and allow the medium to set the direction. Through printmaking, there was a natural progression on to a Master’s Degree in digital art and a further delve into the possibilities of continuing serendipitous idea generation.
Working with digital media has to be balanced with work generated in the real world. The physical experience of creating an art object holds importance for me. The work I create at this present point calls on the skills that I have acquired on this creative journey.
Can you speak to the cultural and historical context of the textile techniques and materials you use in your work, and how do you incorporate that into your artistic vision?
I have no formal training within textiles, the skills I bring to my work initially were acquired from a desire to clothe myself and my family without exploiting or being exploited by the powerful fashion industry. Fabric is seductive, malleable and presents the artist with a never-ending palette of colour and textures. What I want the viewer of my work to see is first the rush of colour then the richness of the fabric followed by the juxtaposition between the rich fabric and hard-hitting message, whether that be environmental, societal or equality issues.
One of your submitted works is entitled Solar Bodies. What can you tell us about the concepts behind it and the final visual composition?
The triptych is part of an ongoing body of work called ‘Waste Embellishment’ focused on how we as a society deal with waste. Noting the random, sometimes visual beauty of discarded detritus from our modern-day living when walking around streets, I noted how unwanted objects would be randomly dumped together to form a visually engaging ‘Still-Life’.
Progressing from street observation I applied for a research placement at a local Waste Recycling Unit and spent several weeks recording the ebb and flow of good citizens shedding their unwanted belongings in clearly marked tipping areas.
Before the research gathering, I set absolute parameters for my work; I would never arrange any object for recording. The subject matter would present itself. The exhilarating aspect of these parameters came in the fast-moving nature of the waste arriving at the unit and within a very short space of time the waste would be sorted and sent off to various skips and holding areas, giving me very little time to respond.
Part of the facilities the Waste Recycling Unit provided were bins for the disposal of commercially used cooking fats. Looking into these bins far from being visually repulsive actually presented as something I found very attractive, indeed a world within a world.
Working with the resources, I manipulated the images and designed 3 large-scale textile pieces printed on marbled velvet. Velvet is sumptuous and willing to take on a rich colour palette with ease. The resulting images at first sight appearing to be heavenly bodies, hence the title ‘Solar Bodies (Grease)’.
I have observed visitors in galleries where this large tryptic has been on exhibit and positioned myself within hearing to note how viewers react to the work. Uniformly the first impression is that the work is perceived as Solar Bodies printed on lush velvet. In discussion with the gallery visitors, I point out that far from a Solar Body the work is a representation of waste fat containers with discarded cigarette ends and other unwanted detritus.
How do you approach the conceptualization and execution of a new piece of work?
Concept and execution take on their own time frame for each individual artwork; the gathering of visual resources could start years before an idea is fully formed. Many a trigger for work will arise from current environmental and political issues. It is always the concept that comes before materials. In developing the outcome, the initial starting point can go through many changes and rethinks before the materials that will carry the message are decided upon. The absence of formal training in Textiles is both a challenge to seek new techniques and importantly not to have preconceived ideas of what is textiles and whether I am correctly applying a particular process.
How do you balance the conceptual and aesthetic aspects of your work, and can you describe a project where those two elements were particularly challenging to integrate?
Particularly challenging has been my ongoing series of work that sets to interrogate the shocking everyday violence meted out to women. This body of work confronts the viewer with work they may not wish to see in an art exhibition. It does not set out to be aesthetically accessible and observers will see work that underscores the consequences of sexual violence, disbelief in a victim’s statement and a lukewarm political response to women’s testament.
Within this series is the artwork ‘We Warned You; but you didn’t Listen’ which is a response to the ongoing issues of Domestic Abuse, society’s reaction to it and the cut in funding to refugees. The installation plays with the idea of the aftermath of a violent incident.
What appears to be police cordon tape is wrapped around traffic cones; the scene is set sending out cultural visual links to a police crime scene. Printed on the cordon tape are statistics focussed on the fall-out of domestic abuse and funding cuts.
The tape and traffic cones sit on printed neoprene with a further message regarding the ubiquitous nature of domestic abuse. In this artwork, the link with traditional textiles is taken to the limit with the use of traffic cones, printed cordon tape and 6 neoprene large tiles.
In 2019, you were invited to become a member of the prestigious international exhibiting group Prism Textiles, and in 2021, you joined the European Textile Network. How did these two experiences shape and influence your practice?
Prism Textiles has approximately 70 members and many members are located outside the UK. ‘Textiles’ is interpreted in a very wide sense and actual fabric may well be a minor aspect of an artworks’ make up. Primarily the group is an exhibiting group but I have found opportunities to link with other artists, this being a valuable experience in terms of discussing work and sending word out about my work to a wider audience through social media and exhibitions. Since 2022 I have been actively engaged in a sub-group of 5 artists. Within this group, we have artists from Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and the UK, meeting regularly online and linking frequently on WhatsApp. Our collaboration is focussed on creating an interactive comment on living in ‘Disconnected Times’. Each practitioner from the multilingual group contributing to soundscapes and material representation within the body of work which highlights elements of micro and macro concerns cogent to our present time.
The European Textile Network has been an excellent conduit of information on creative opportunities that are available in Europe and for me, this is important as the Brexit debacle has left artists of all disciplines in the UK at a distinct disadvantage. The ETN goes someway in addressing this.
How do you navigate the tension between maintaining a strong artistic voice and responding to the demands of the art market or exhibition opportunities?
The simple answer is that I don’t. I worked in the post-16 Art Education Sector for several decades and when I chose to leave, I was determined not to compromise my art practice for external demands be that commercial or the submission requirements. Art is a subjective experience and as such if a submission is rejected, I rationalise that decision and move on without tailoring my work to fit
How do you measure success as an artist, and what metrics do you use to evaluate your own work?
As success is ephemeral and my practice is based on my interpretation of the human and environmental condition, achievement as an artist is about contributing to the debate and bringing other people onboard.
How do you see your work contributing to broader social and political conversations, and what are some of the challenges and opportunities you encounter in that process?
Artists perform a distilling process abstracting from the loud jangle of the many questions that society poses and setting into motion an exactness that will resonate with the viewer and leave an imprint on the receivers’ conscience.
Although the impact of my work may not be immediately evident, I hope it forms a trigger at a later point. The challenges are to not give up debate, opportunities are always there, you just have to be receptive to what is in plain sight.
Solar Bodies -Triptych by Linda Pearl Izan. Image courtesy of Linda Pearl Izan.
I am a mixed media practitioner based in the United Kingdom; my work is exhibited nationally and internationally with work highlighted on social media, research papers and within printed publications.
In my present practice I have actively chosen to work with and develop textile techniques and skills although my work is not exclusively within this area. My portfolio demonstrates that I am also keen to access and exploit mixed media, ceramics, photography and digital media.
The major influences for my practice come from political, environmental, gender and cultural starting points. An idea can hover around for several months or indeed years before the translation of that idea into a body of work, conversely when responding to a fast moving political or social issue, ideas are translated swiftly into creative responses. At this point process become the deciphering agent.
The choice of a particular textile medium is always cogent to the message that is being explored. If the message within the work is focused on the disposable material society, I will use gold leaf or marbled velvet to emphasise what is valued and what is not. When the narrative is about human rights, I will interweave text within the work to ensure that the message is explicit; turning stitch into commentary.
I embrace new technologies in partnership with time honoured textile methods. My creative process calls on digital imagery, appliqué, hand and machine embroidery.
In 2019 I was invited to become a member of the prestigious international exhibiting group Prism Textiles and 2021 I joined the European Textile Network .