Lisa Traxler – from fashion editor to contemporary artist
This feature appeared in The Wessex MUSE Magazine, July 2009
Pick up a magazine – flick through its pages, check out the fashion shots – chances are your eye will linger over the luxury garments photographed in romantic faraway places….For Lisa Traxler checking out the fashion pages used to mean making sure all the details had been printed correctly & the models looked fab. The location – well, the suitcase unpacked in the corner was testament to all the air miles she had travelled!
From high-flying fashion editor to up & coming contemporary artist the journey has been just as exciting. Now a full time artist Lisa often gets asked why the change & how it came to be.
“Half a dozen years ago my life was a hectic whirl-wind of deadlines & trips abroad but life threw some interesting, unexpected challenges my way & I’m not one to give up easily” said Lisa from her art studio on the Isle of Wight.
Disenchanted with the bustle of London & with a young daughter to bring up Lisa did not anticipate the changes ahead.
“A phone call from my partner visiting his family on the Isle of Wight changed everything for me!” She says.
“Do you fancy living on a houseboat?” This was the question asked over the ‘phone. “Don’t talk such rubbish!” Lisa laughs, ‘but the following weekend I came down to have a look & by the middle of Autumn we had the keys.”
Thus began a new life & career on the Isle of Wight aboard a houseboat that started life as a Motor Torpedo Boat, built in 1939 for use during the Second World War.
“Being in such an environment & yearning to revisit the creativity of art that I have loved for so many years was the catapult that shot me forward. It has been an incredible learning curve but I must be so lucky to have found a second career in my life that I am passionate about & with some wonderful successes so far!”
With small beginnings showing work locally on the Island Lisa fondly remembers the first painting she sold at an art fair in Bembridge. “The thrill of someone else actually paying me for a piece of work I created & painted myself is a wonderful & also very humbling experience & one that I have not forgotten even after selling many paintings & art pieces” says Lisa.
A rapid rise has followed – exhibitions & commissions from Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight to The Discerning Eye Exhibition in the prestigious Mall Galleries in London which was a particular favourite of Lisa’s as it was a nostalgic trip back to her old work environment when she used to be dashing around the shops & boutiques of London gathering clothes & accessories to shoot abroad.
“I feel my many years in the fashion industry cemented my love of colour, shape & attention to detail. My degree in Fashion & Textiles in Birmingham in the 80’s has been put to great use with recent artworks combining stitching & collage.” With her degree in Fashion & Textiles Lisa is also a regular tutor at Quay Arts & many of the Islands schools leading Fashion workshops that combine all the knowledge she has acquired over the years.
“I feel part of this success is a willingness to try new things & approach people & situations with an open mind – I can’t help but keep being inspired by all around me – even a grey cloudy morning inspires me to take out my trusty camera & find something of worth.”
With a growing portfolio combining abstract painting, photography & mixed media & with a love of history Lisa’s next project was a three month residency at Portsmouth Grammar School. Invited to create artworks in response to the archival photographs & artefacts from the schools history led to a well received body of work exhibited at St.Thomas’s Cathedral in Old Portsmouth in 2008. The exhibition has continued to travel with a show at The Eldon Gallery, University of Portsmouth in 2009 & a further solo exhibition at The Link Gallery, University of Winchester from 21st September to 12 October 2009 & finishing up at Quay Arts 16th January until 27th February 2010. The exhibition also features the poetry by pupils at the grammar school.
At the moment Lisa is busy creating a new body of work at Art Space in Portsmouth . In March this year she was awarded the 2009 Art Space Sponsored Studio Award with a solo exhibition at the gasp Gallery in August 2009.
“I am working pretty full on at the moment at Art Space as I wish to grab the opportunity that has been given to me & make the most of the studio space. Art Space is a great community of artists & it is this response & vibrancy & the fact that the studios are housed in a converted Methodist Chapel with amazing history attached that is enabling me to push my work forward to greater levels – I hope!” says Lisa.
With paintings on show at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park in London in October & several Island & South East England exhibitions in the pipeline you can hope to see some of Lisa’s artworks soon. Open Studios on the Isle of Wight on Saturday 25th July will give you the opportunity of meeting the artist as she will open her Island studio to show work & chat.