POP ART – TO HELP OUT! by Elestr Lee
LIFE MAY be changing in ways that were unimaginable at the start of 2020. But creative new ways of coping and living with the ‘new norms’ are being discovered. Caversham artist Liz Real has come up with new ways to bring her work to the community, whilst helping to raise awareness and also much-needed funds for Reading’s homeless charity, Launchpad.
“I have come up with ‘Art In The Arbour’ – a special little space I have outside the front of my house, where I can display my greetings cards and my art. It’s a socially-distanced pop-up gallery,” explains Liz. “I advertise it on social media, and people make appointments to come around – some I already know, or else they have spotted my Facebook page. Some people don’t want to go to the shops, but they are happy to come to me when they need to buy cards.”
Liz came up with the idea a few months after the start of lockdown in March, and has used the pop-up gallery to sell her hand-made greeting cards to raise money for Launchpad. “All the money I raise from the cards goes to the charity. I also display my art – limited edition prints, mixed-media, paintings and collage – by request to anyone who is interested in purchasing a piece of my work. The idea has taken off, and I have just had a bumper week!”
Having raised two now grown up daughters in Caversham, Liz has been developing her artistic techniques of collage, printmaking, painting and drawing. “I am the daughter of two artists – my father was a potter and my mother an art teacher – and they both warned me, don’t go into art, there’s no money in it. However, it was always something I did in my spare time and, over the past 15 years, I have had more time to devote to it and I have done a number of part-time courses, including the open access printmaking course at Maiden Erleigh.”
Liz loves to use Gelli printing as a base for her greeting cards, as she is fascinated by the interesting effects achieved from using acrylic paint rolled out on the Gel printing plate. Using a range of different media, she creates collages, and combines this with her interest in textiles, painting and drawing.
As a member of the Caversham Arts Trail as well as the Reading Guild of Artists, Liz normally has a busy schedule of exhibitions to prepare for. “There should have been a big drawing exhibition, but it didn’t happen,” Liz explains. In previous years she has been involved in some fascinating local projects, such as Reading In The Margins. Liz was deeply struck by images she photographed when Reading Prison was opened to the public in 2016. “I took lots of photographs of the graffiti left by prisoners and of the collection of Oscar’s Wilde’s books. I was very struck by the police mug shots of the prisoners in Victorian times – men and women – all with their hands in front of their chests.”
In previous years, Liz has worked as an artist facilitator with CIRDIC (Churches in Reading Drop In Centre), which resulted in an exhibition of work at the Holybrook Gallery, Central Library in Reading by clients of CIRDIC – homeless and other marginalised members of Reading’s community. And Liz is particularly proud of a portrait she painted of Maria, the Big Issue seller many will have seen selling copies of the newspaper outside Caversham’s Waitrose. “With her permission, I took a photograph of her sitting under an umbrella to protect herself from the sun. This turned into a portrait, which was reprinted in a copy of the Big Issue – Maria was very proud of selling that particular edition!”
Liz is planning to continue supporting Launchpad by inviting viewers to ‘Art In The Arbour’ in the run-up to Christmas – weather permitting!