Welcome to this week’s Artist Of The Week.
Lizzy Anderson- McLaughlin
Winner of the Local Art & Craft UK July competition, Lizzy lives in Northamptonshire with her two daughters, five dogs and her husband John and works as a graphic designer, illustrator and artist.
(as it happens, Lizzy’s husband John is a friend of mine and fellow DJ on the Northern Soul scene – TJ)
As well as having clients worldwide, Lizzy’s work can be found displayed proudly in her home town of Earl’s Barton, near Northampton, most notably on the front of the Saxon Tavern in the village square. You can visit Lizzy’s shop, Elizabeth Anderson Art, and lay your hands on a range of fantastic goodies by clicking HERE.
So, for the first time since I started writing our AOTW feature, rather than doing things virtually we sat down face to face and Lizzy told me her extraordinary story.
Right then. You’ve got quite a story to tell. Let’s start at the beginning.
Well, I was born in London. When I was 4, we moved to Earl’s Barton in Northamptonshire where I grew up and lived till I was 18 then moved to Israel and lived in the Negev Desert for 3 years.
Woah! OK, back up. You did what?
OK, I didn’t actually live in the desert. What happened was, I went on holiday to the south of France with a group of friends and things kind of ballooned from there. We just decided we were going to carry on travelling.
There was no plan as such, it was a case of sticking a pin in a map and seeing where we’d end up. A lot of the time we slept on train stations and in parks; I remember sleeping on a luggage rack in Brindisi station one night, it’s just the sort of thing you do when you’re young and adventurous.
Cheap tickets on boats are a great shout. That’s how we ended up in Haifa, on a boat from Cyprus. We had to bung border guards a few shekels to get you through and do a bit of haggling. It was like something out of a Monty Python sketch, “Ten for that you must be mad” haha!
One time, we hitched to Tel Aviv and had enough money for two of us to stay in a youth hostel. Unfortunately there were six of us so the two girls got the hostel and the four boys had to sleep in the park.
What a fantastic story. So you must have fed the travel bug after all that.
Not even nearly.
Next up I lived in the USA for 13 years, working as a graphic designer in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and finally Seattle.
I studied at the Ringling school of art and design in Sarasota, FLA and when I ended up in Seattle I enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Washington art school.
I got married and ended up living on a sailing boat on Lake Union in Washington.
(as you do – TJ)
I learnt how to maintain sails, rebuild the engine, everything involved in looking after a boat with the plan, of course, to sail round the world. The very last thing was the lifeboat. By then I was geared up to do something but, while the lifeboat was being sorted I found out I was pregnant which kind of put a stop to sailing round the world on a yacht.
Time to settle down then?
Erm, sort of.
My husband got a job as a surveyor with the United Nations so next on the travels was Bhutan in the Eastern Himalayas, next to Tibet.
(Of course it was – TJ)
I got a job teaching stamp designers in Bhutan how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I felt awful because it was the end of their hand drawn stamps. My daughter, Grace, was the first western girl to ever be born in Butan.
When Grace was about two, I split up with my husband, moved back to Earl’s Barton and got a job as PA to the marketing Director of Scottish & Newcastle Brewery.
Before long I met my now husband, John. Not being able to stay in one place for too long, we moved to Spain where I had my second daughter, Mackenzie.
While we were living in Spain I discovered I had breast Cancer.
My treatment in Spain was absolutely wonderful, second to none. To be honest, if I hadn’t been in Spain I don’t think I’d be here now. I’d had a clear mammogram then two weeks later I had a fall and had to have an MRI where they spotted a lump. If I’d been in the UK the idea of having an MRI after the fall just wouldn’t have occurred to anyone and they would never have spited the cancer till it was too late. Then John lost his job in Barcelona so we moved back to Earl’s Barton.
I continued my chemotherapy and radiotherapy in England; the process here is very different. One of the things I remember most is sitting in a waiting room with all my hair falling out and the guy that was filling up the coffee machine looked at me and said “Did the council do that?” The whole room just fell about laughing.
I’m delighted to say that I’ve been all clear from cancer for 7 years now and life is good.
Next, stop? Who knows. We think probably Scotland.
I need a minute to get my breath back after all that so can you tell me, what’s life like as an artist in Northamptonshire?
It’s great! There are usually loads of craft fairs, markets and events and, of course, I have clients worldwide but to be honest LA&C has kept us going through lock down.
My work has been a bit irregular and John’s been on furlough so the sales I’ve made through Local Art & Craft have been a massive help. We offer free local delivery so John’s been my delivery boy (he likes to call himself “logistics manager”).
Is your family artistic?
Yeah they are. My father was very artistic and my daughters are both very talented. Grace goes to art school but Mackenzie really isn’t interested.
Who’s your favourite artist?
Quentin Blake, I grew up with his work. Did you know that he illustrated over 300 books? Of course the 18 he did for Roald Dahl are the most famous.
His style just speaks to me, his scratchiness and sketchiness. I like to think a lot of my work has a certain Blake quality.
Also, I have to say Van Gogh too because I went to the immersive VG exhibition in Leicester and it absolutely blew me away.
And finally, what advice would you give to beginners?
Find your style and embrace it, stick with it. Don’t let anyone try to pull you away from your own style or the way you work.
Never compare yourself with another artist. You are you, never try to be someone else. You can take inspiration from another artist, of course, but never copy them.
What a story!
Well, I’m sure you’ll agree that Lizzy’s story is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much to Lizzy for letting us have a look at what makes you tick.
If you’ve been inspired to tell your story in “Artist Of The Week” please don’t hesitate to drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all for this week!
Looking forward to next week’s story.
Where will it take us?