Alison Lambert – Practice and Inspiration

Alison Lambert is a contemporary artist who specialises in large scale human portraits uses charcoal and torn paper as her medium. Alan Dyer explains in the book ‘Emotion and Expression’ about how Lambert, over the years, has managed to perfect the ability to create many emotions in the work and make the viewer question which emotion is most dominate in the work. Esi Edugyan wrote an article where she talk about how she experience Lambert’s work in person and emphasised that this was so much more empowering than seeing it in books and on the internet. She explains how you can feel the physicality of the work with the large scale and intensity of the charcoal and black pastel she uses.

“the expressions are impossible to pin down in a single word and always changing combination of emotions that depend entirely on the mood of the viewer”

Two of full bodied pieces names ‘Grip’, 2001 and ‘Emergence’, 2001, were influenced by the eroded statues at Rouen Cathedral in Normandy, France. The emotion forms an expressiveness which is also evident in Lambert’s work. The faces of these two portraits shows so much pain with the intensity of the pastel and the way Lambert has framed in so much charcoal to almost blackened out the whole face.

Looking at the Emotion and Expression Book in the library, I discover the method in which Lambert uses to create the work. It is fascinating the way she uses the charcoal to create shadows and the white paper to create highlights. In the book, you can see a stage by stage break down of her process. The reason for looking into this is to discover different ways for me to produce my own work. Rather than using the extra pieces of paper to add size to the work or to cover up any mistakes, the use of paper will create highlights which can then be worked on with charcoal to create tone. The torn paper added into the work also creates texture and so the materials together form this real empowerment in her work. I feel this is a really interesting and innovative way of using your materials and feel it could be something I use in my own work.

Author: ninasartspace

Based in Cardiff studying Fine Art at the Metropolitan University. Originally from East Sussex. The career goal is Art Therapy with adults who suffer from PTSD and other mental issues which affect so many of us on a daily basis.

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