We have good vibrations about this month’s masterpiece, courtesy of esteemed Sheffield artist, Liz von Graevenitz.
It seems only appropriate that February, the month of love, has a cover to suit the mood and, without being too modest, we think we’ve excelled ourselves this month.
Liz von Graevenitz maybe known to some of you, but not to others. Born in London and raised in Spain and Sheffield, she is currently based at Bloc Studios on Arundel Street, where she both creates her striking artwork and runs regular workshops for those keen to expand their repertoire.
She’s the first to admit that her work ‘is a little bit unusual’ and a ‘little dark’ but has won her an army of fans, not here just here but also abroad, particularly in Slovakia where she has built lasting friendships.
It’s hard to pigeon-hole her style; she uses different medias throughout her work but one consistent theme is the love for exacting technical ability mixed with a passion for imperfection. If those two things can go hand in hand.
Liz’s fine art background is enhanced with skills in ceramics, brick-laying and 3D installation. She’s hands-on and happy to do all the hard work herself, however intricate it may be.
Take this month’s cover for example – which she has designed specifically for us – it continues a theme from her recent ‘Pulsations’ exhibition, which combines hand-cut vintage musical scores with collage, anatomy and one of her biggest passions, music.
“It’s about vibrations,” she explains. “The one thing that links us all, animal, human and machine. The vintage music scores are from the thirties or forties. You imagine what was happening culturally at that time; none of the technological influences of the day, how were people communicating with each other and integrating? I purposely leave in all of the pencil marks and fingerprints of the people who once touched the paper I use to bring the past into the present.
“The actual piece of music is from 1940 and called ‘Voices of Spring’ [by Johann Strauss], which is really nice because it’s like a new beginning. You can see the heart is almost sacrificial, but it’s still beating.”
Like all art, it’s open to interpretation but we feel it’s like nothing we’ve had before. Liz entitled the piece ‘Play On’ based on the famous quote from Shakespeare’s Tweflth Night. Everything is drawn by hand, cut by hand, it’s all Liz.
“People have asked me many a time, ‘why don’t you use a laser cutter?’, my response is ‘because that’s actually the point. Using the pencil marks, the imperfections… the technical ability to do something with your hands is really important.
“This body of work has come from a seed in my mind then becomes a series of sketches; a lot of working out and planning is involved in the process. You’re problem-solving the whole way through.
This attention to detail is evident in her recent collection of work from the aforementioned Pulsations exhibition at The Holt – her first solo exhibition in the city for eight years. The exhibition showed a collection of large paintings and intricate ink drawings with the common running theme of hand-cut paper collage.
The alternation between organic or ‘robot’ brains (hence the circuit boards) is said to illustrate how technology has affected – and inhibited – the development of the mind. This duality is also represented by Liz’s consistent use of conjoined twins in her work.
“I like that dark, crazy element in thinking about the balance,” she explains. “It’s not necessarily good and bad but I like the idea of two minds in one body.”
Liz is the first to admit her work is constantly evolving – “Inspiration comes from your mood, your environment and what’s happening in your life, it’s subconscious. You’ve just got to get it out and see what happens.”
After an invitation to produce a video installation for Festival 23 in Liverpool in April, she’s hoping to travel and revisit some familiar territory.
“I really want to go and do a painting residency in Slovakia, get away from the city, from the bubble of my world and just go and paint. I’ve travelled around the country a lot over the years and it does seem like my second home. You’ve got the mountains, the lakes, the flowers… it’s just gorgeous and I just feel at peace there.”
Sounds good to us.
Prints of the cover will be available in limited edition for £25 (A3 print). Prints from the Pulsations exhibition are also still available as well as screenprint with handcut paper collage ‘The Universe Music and Me’. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.lizvongraevenitz.co.uk, or Tweet her @lizvongee
Liz also undertakes commissions, not only for visual art but also bespoke décor for events and weddings.