Framing Our Future Interviews: Molly Lambourn and Fiona Pearce

What’s been the biggest driver compelling you to create new works over the last year?

Molly: I have an exhibition coming up in Stockholm that is under the theme ‘holy fluff’- this theme has encouraged me to think about the light as well as dark and to take a lighter approach to making. I also have a commission that encourages more of the colour and joy from my practice- so I have been focusing on positive feelings and what we can celebrate this year. I find myself inspired by a pattern on someone’s dress, an image of an animal or a feeling I get- I never know when it will strike but I am lucky this year to feel constantly inspired by my surroundings, there’s also no bigger motivator than deadlines and being lucky enough to get selected for shows can influence the way your work goes and themes that you begin to follow. 

Fiona: I have been struggling for a while to find the line between meeting the commercial needs of my clients and galleries and what I really want to create.  The fear of losing income (this is my main source) just in case my new ideas don’t go down well has been debilitating, and over the last few months it has caused quite a lot of anxiety.  However, I know that I need to pursue my creative instincts and I have managed to turn that fear into a driving force to press forward and believe in myself.  The results have been received very well and what with now being accepted into the ArtCan community I aim to expand my audience.  Having others support you within what can be a very lonely trade is priceless.  

Molly: Absolutely, ArtCan has been an incredible support base for me since graduating from my Masters. 

What advice would you give to artists just starting out in how to be a successful artist? 

Molly: I am still quite new to the art world myself. I would say be flexible and do not compare your journey to others, you need to work at the pace and in the way that works for you. Some artists are flexible and more commercial, others will focus more on conceptual work and meaning- there is no right or wrong so long as you are making the work that feels right to you. Success is subjective. 

Fiona: Don’t wait for the right moment to start – my husband taught be this when I was a new mum questioning my next career path.  He used to say, just start anything and rest will follow and he was right. I was very good at saying ‘Ah maybe I’m not ready’ or ‘What if the gallery says no?’  What is the worse thing that can happen if they do?  You will go to another gallery, maybe tens of others and then one or two will represent you instead.  I speak for myself when I say that as a person I was very apologetic about my work, especially when approaching galleries, but remember, without you they wouldn’t exist and don’t be too grateful.  If you can appear confident (even if you have to fake it), people will want a piece of you and you might even start believing in yourself.  Now, you don’t even need galleries-paint what you love and if you want to sell it then you have social media to help get you started.

What do you find most interesting about other Women’s artwork? 

Molly: I find it interesting what drives different women to make their work. I love Yayoi Kusama because she creates relentlessly, it is a need not a want for her and it is her way of understanding her past, translating trauma and create beauty from it. I also love artists like Frida Kahlo who place themselves are the protagonist of their artworks and value their story, every work she makes is her way of telling the world that her life and story matters. As an undergraduate I studied history and my studies continue to immerse my practice, I have a belief in the power of the work we make and its historical legacy. When I make my work, every mark made is an act of marking the history of my life and saying that my story matters. 

Fiona: I am fascinated by the psychological side of art and how as we grow and mature as women our processes grow to have more meaning.  The struggles I see with some female artists are that they squeeze in the time to paint around their family and other jobs, justifying the time they take out to be creative.  This is such an incredible career path and we all know it can be hard, but it can be worth it so we must stop apologising.  I know that many people juggle multiple roles daily, but I do think that art is treated as a luxury and not as a ‘proper’ career.  

As time goes on I am also finding that the lines between the sexes are now so blurred that I just see us all as humans.  Whatever we identify as we are all people with our own unique story.

Molly: I understand that struggle, you can feel guilty to be pursuing something as frivolous as art. It’s crazy to think my mind even says a word like frivolous when I know the monumental impact that art can have on wellbeing, its academic potential for exploration and the sheer joy it brings to people. I’ve been juggling my art with two different part time jobs while still working full time hours on the art, it is exhausting and it’s hard to judge that moment where you just go for it and fully commit to your art without worrying what others will think. 

Which artists are you watching right now? Why do you wish you had been told about navigating the business side of the art world? 

Molly: I am excited by Shary Boyle’s sculpture, but I always try to keep up to date with artists closer to me in the field and to go to private views and learn more about the people behind work. Artwork is always best experienced in person, and it is an honour to be able to speak to artists about their process. In terms of advice, I think I wish I had been told that there is no right or wrong with art, it really is what works for you and there is no race or timeline to get things done. I think the core thing I wish I had known is how to price work and choosing the right avenues to promote yourself, something I am still learning about. 

Fiona: I am driven by shape the colour, so Fred Ingrams is a must for me.  Alice Neil’s figurative work is stunning, very emotional and I am a sucker for anything outlined! Marek Herburt’s colours are electric – they make my mouth water and Hockney has inspired me to start working on my iPad.  His work gives me hope and reminds that its ok to use the crazy colours that I wore in the 80’s! Imogen Hartridge,  Louise Body, Jess Franks, Valentin Pascari. There are just too many people to mention!  

The business side for me is a challenge unless I can get face to face with someone.  Once they can see the passion I have for my work then I think that infectious buzz gets contracted.  Being trapped in my studio 24/7 would be my idea of heaven but having to take time out for social media and to update my website is a real challenge, it doesn’t come easily as I find it quite boring and I think if I’m truly honest a bit of technophobe.

I have tried art fairs as well as galleries and I will continue to do both but in these, but in changing times I am not sure what the next step will be.  

What works are you most excited about creating in the near future? / What’s coming up for you in 2022? 

Fiona: I am sketching for the first time on my iPad,and I love the results.  Translating them on to canvas is so exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what comes from this.  I recently had shoulder surgery and I will have to have the other one done soon so I haven’t over committed for the year ahead.  That won’t stop me painting though as I am going to start applying for international shows next year.  I will be developing a decent body of work in my new style.

Molly: I am so excited for this year; I am beginning to receive commissions and have lots of opportunities to connect with my audience. I am exhibiting in London and Stockholm with ArtCan and I am also beginning to develop different ways of making revenue as an artist, I am doing fashion illustration and other drawing workshops weekly and I will also be putting some designs up onto Thortful! I am exploring colour and more commercial ways of expressing myself as an artist this year. For Stockholm I will be creating around 50 new dolls and I want them to be a complete celebration of international womanhood, our shared experiences- pain, joy and love. I am excited to have recently graduated from my MA and to develop new bodies of work that have full freedom. 

Are you conscious as an artist, of being a role model for others/ your children/ younger generation?

Molly: I like to think there is a vulnerability in my work and that I encourage people to be themselves, to embrace the light and the dark of who they are and to have meaningful conversations about gender and mental health. Being an artist takes incredible dedication, I was always told it was impossible and an unwise career choice but if I can do it, I hope it inspires more younger people to pursue their passions. 

Fiona: My teenage sons teach me all the time what it is to be human.  They don’t understand the gender gap at all and are horrified by the differences especially in the work place.  They have taught me to see past sex and gender and they are my role models.  I hope that as parents we have played a part in this attitude but this attitude is also shared amongst their peers.  I am positive that the next generation is well on the way to seeing through past discriminations and it’s archaic views.

I love going into schools and getting children to feel confident about being creative.  I don’t always agree with the way art is taught, so holding mini workshops and getting people to explore and have fun with paint is just wonderful. Telling young (and old) minds that they aren’t painting the right way puts up barriers.  Maybe I will pursue this further and help inspire some future ArtCanners.