My portrait of Lisa Travers was made at The Blue Piano, Harborne Road, Birmingham on Wednesday 30 September 2015.
It is here that Lisa manages the booking of musicians for performance. The back drop is a mural by artist Title Millsy on the wall of the outdoor stage area.
Lisa is an artist and art history graduate. She received a masters degree in art history at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design with her thesis Writing Without Meaning. She trained initially in ceramics but these days works with lots of diverse materials to convey a love of abstract calligraphy and handwriting in her artwork. She says: “The writing in my art relates to music. I aim to create rhythmical, abstract pieces that recall the fluidity and repetition found in handwriting and music scores. This expresses, I hope, a joyous sense of freedom with an anarchic stance towards systems of control.”
Lisa’s father is a founding member of the band UB40 and a saxophonist. It was through his influence and his incredible vinyl collection that she discovered music in general and jazz in particular. Says she: “I grew up with this collection that informed my whole world and now belongs to me!” Lisa adds that her dad was often away touring: “I suppose I got to know him in many ways through the music he loved and the books that lined his shelves.” She names John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, Stan Getz and Sonny Rollins among the influential musicians to whom she was exposed. “Those jazz records informed the way I felt about abstraction and art as much as any paintings I was looking at or anything I was reading,” she adds.
Lisa recommends the following 5-a-day:
Arron Siskind (born 1903): New York photographer of city shots, portraits, Harlem dancers to really abstract stuff. A truly great artist.
Jack Kerouac: Scattered Poems (published 1970 City Lights Books). I could pick out many things he wrote but I love to carry this little books of poems around. I like little pocket books!
Stuart Davis (born 1892): American Modernist painter, “the grandpapa of Pop Art” – I saw his paintings in NYC during my 20s. They really are superb and “musical”.
Moscow on the Hudson (Film 1984 Dir. Paul Mazursky). Robin Williams plays a Russian musician who loves jazz and defects in Bloomingdales. It’s a perfect little movie – “Take the A-Train”.
Ne dans le rue – Graffiti Exhibition (2009) at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. The most brilliant expo-interactive-audio-visual-multi-sensory exhibition on graffiti. there seems to be lots of documentation online but you’d need to go back in time to really experience it.