Elizabeth is a British Artist and Designer currently residing and maintaining full time studio practice in New York City. Her work has been exhibited widely in the UK, USA and the UAE, where she began her career with her sell out solo show in the capital,  Abu Dhabi.  Most recently she has completed a commission for HRH The Prince of Wales and had a solo show at Soho House.  Her works are held in private collections in North America, Bahrain, Europe, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.Various publications such as Cheshire Life Magazine,  Art Zealous, The Art Gorgeous,  Juxtapoze, Anti Heroin Chic, AIMO and Fashion Week have all covered Elizabeth’s work.  She holds an honours degree in Fashion and a postgraduate in Design from the University of Manchester.

We really love the way you empower, uplift and support other women. Retrospectively speaking, what does it mean to you to be a working female artist in today’s art market?

It’s incredible for me to be surrounded by so many working and successful female artists when not so long ago this wouldn’t have been the case. To be quite honest I was very naive to the imbalance in the art world when I first started out, so I just got along with what I was doing. It’s only through unplugging platforms like Artleadher that I’ve been educated and can now talk and connect positively with that imbalance. We as women have to move forward, check ourselves and others for gender bias and make sure we do this with a positive light.  It’s now and the future that counts. The way has been paved by women before us, and it’s our job to keep other women feeling empowered and limitless.

Can you talk a bit more about the all female art show opening at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery that you are involved in? 

Artleadher is a platform that empowers women in the creative industries, by providing support and opportunities. This is an opportunity to exhibit amongst a group of artists who I admire, are insanely creative and just so happen to be female. The Lawrence Alkin gallery provided an outlet for Mashonda Tifrere the curator to bring that platform to the UK. for this and I’m honoured to be a part of it.  There was literally a physical buzz around the opening of the show and the events that came before and after it. That atmosphere stemmed entirely from the fact that everyone involved provide nothing but love and support for one another.

What other artists do you admire? 

I’m very lucky to be friends with a great group of powerful and successful artists that inspire me every time I talk to them. Of course there are many I’ve never personally met, but whose art has lit a fire under me, and spurned my desire to create.

It’s difficult to say that any singular artist has been most inspiring or influential to my work. I can’t for instance say in one breath that Jasper Johns’ use of familiar objects to derive multiple meanings has influenced me without commenting on the effect that the scale and technique of a Robert Longo has had on my work.

I can say that right now my most recent work has been inspired by the works of Charming Baker because of the stage my life is in right now, on my recent UK residency I found myself getting down to my British routes, and his work has a very British romantic melancholy about it. His work makes you examine your conscience and I want my work to have similar meaning and impact.

As an artist, what is your artistic outlook on life?

Life is about people and we are here to connect. As an artist it’s my job to take every single bit of information that I can from people, cultures and my surroundings and translate what I see into something visually stimulating. I always do this from a very open standpoint so as to question and open ideas that may not be available or apparent to the masses via standard channels, like the media. I like to get information in the purest way possible so I stopped watching tv and listening to the news six years ago and its made such a difference.  The news you need will always reach you but this allows you to think, question and evolve in a completely organic way. You have to look a little deeper and seek out the truth for yourself before making judgements. The best way to find out about anything is explore, adventure and discover for yourself. Art should always open conversations and not necessarily tell someone how to feel but to attack a standpoint from all angles, leaving the viewer thinking in new ways that they haven’t before.

What is your signature style? Also, has your style of practise changed over a period of time since when you first began?

I’m a truly monochromatic girl. Since my first major project when I was 18, I’ve been addicted to the pure idea of white space. I enjoy pops of colour but too much can confuse my mind when it comes to my work.

The monochromatic style doesn’t mean my work is static. Quite the contrary actually; my work will continuously evolve as will I. We are constantly evolving and that is beautiful.  It’s always better to go with the organic flow of this rather than to force it. So I let that evolution happen as opposed to contriving it.  This is usually through playful experimentation and a solid idea will follow.

There have definitely been some changes in the methods I use, this can vary from piece to piece.  My work started moving fast so I had to adapt my best practices to match my creative stamina with daylight hours but with less procrastination, to produce to maximum efficiency.

Abu Dhabi is one of the most cultural capitals of the world, having moved there to initially teach art, how did you find it compared to the U.K? 

It’s my second home. There’s something intensely spiritual about the desert that seeps into you. It has provided me with endless inspiration and even now, I’m able to look back at my time there with a new perspective and capture something new. It’s a melting pot of cultures and definitely brings a new understanding to anyone who visits there. In comparison with the UK, it’s a lot more diverse and much less structured/ordered which means it was difficult to come to grips with but much better for your soul in the long run! I miss the children I was lucky enough to be around every day.

After successful shows in NYC, LA and Texas, you had your first solo show in NYC in 2016 and have since been commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales Prices Trust. You have also exhibited and attended Art Basel in Miami and recently opened your current solo show at Soho House,West Hollywood, but what would say has been a seminal experience? 

All these experiences have been such ‘pinch me’ moments. They sound so grand but of course don’t happen over night. And the endless hours and sleepless nights aren’t visible from the outside!When they come though the feeling is incredible it makes all the moments of doubt worth it.

The best experiences for me have been when I hear from someone that has been touched or impacted by my work. At the opening of ‘Underneath’ in London one of my ex-students from the first year I taught showed up. I can’t explain how incredible a feeling it was to have this accomplished young man I’d had an impact on, standing in front of me so many years later!  Another experience which is a first that I’ll never forget was delivering a deeply personal piece to a collector I’d been working on for months. It was about his life and I felt so connected to the piece, he was shaking and I was crying when I unveiled it to him. It was that ‘pow’ moment!

Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you have been given?

The best advice I hear time and time again, has been packaged up in many ways over the years. Ultimately this advice is about freedom and being the best ‘you’ but to do this by moving away from anything or anyone that doesn’t help you achieve your highest purpose/self. Let go of it all, people, things, places, ideas the past.  It took a while to sink in, but once you find it easy to walk away from those things that don’t lift you higher, you find a whole new level of freedom and self love.


Instagram: @_waggs

Website: Websitewww.elizabethwaggett.com

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