There's no business like glow business

November 02 2016

WHEN is a lampshade not a lampshade? When it's a work of art, of course.


WHEN is a lampshade not a lampshade? When it's a work of art, of course.

Fishponds artist Lisa Malyon is gaining a reputation for her work which cleverly combines art and function in the form of lampshades featuring architectural drawings of iconic buildings.

Lisa draws directly onto the shades to produce the striking images, many of which feature local landmarks such as the Suspension Bridge and Clevedon Pier.

The 49-year-old, who studied for a degree in textile design in Loughborough, originally worked for a large department store chain as a buying assistant.

After four years in the job she went travelling and on her return moved to Bristol, a city which inspired Lisa to revisit her artistic roots.

"I hadn't really done a lot of drawing up until then as when I was at art college it was all about experimental stuff," Lisa said.

"I felt very inspired by the architecture in Bristol which was strange because I hadn't really spent much time looking at architecture before."

Lisa, who has lived in Fishponds for 11 years, got a job at the Environment Agency for four days a week and spent one day working at the Architecture Centre gift shop in Narrow Quay.

"It made me think more about architecture. Before I went into work, I would sit in the coffee shop in the YHA and start drawing what was around me."

When she was made redundant from her government post, Lisa had time on her hands and would cycle to the city centre, sketching what was around her.

"I thought 'What am I going to do with all this?'"

But the leap from sketching to making her unique lampshades was to come later.

Lisa attended a lampshade making workshop at Bristol Safe House, where she now works.

"I made a ceiling lampshade from printed fabric, brought it home and put it up. I took my old cream drum shade down and left it sitting around on my dining table. I wanted to do something with it because it seemed a shame to throw it away or take it to a charity shop. An ex-boyfriend asked me if I'd ever thought about drawing on it. And funnily enough, I had, but that comment really gave me the impetus."

Lisa's first attempt was by her own admission full of 'mad' drawings of Bristol buildings.

"I got a bit carried away and chucked as many buildings as possible on to it and it was all a bit slapdash!" she said.

Nevertheless she gave the shade to her brother and it remains in his hall to this day.

Encouraged by his positive response, Lisa tried her hand at more, putting photographs of her work on her art website. This led to invites for her to exhibit at art trails and pop-up shops and the rest is history.

Many people who see her work are surprised Lisa draws directly on to the shade.

"People can't believe it when I say I draw them 'on the round'. It triggers their curiosity."

Most of Lisa's work comes from commissions. She often works off photographs and can draw any building in the world as long as she has a clear uncopyrighted image to work from. 

Recently she drew Bath Circus for a couple who now live at Lake Como in Italy ("That's one I would have liked to have personally delivered," jokes Lisa) and the Orient Express for a friend's father-in-law but most of her commissions involve Bristol landmarks.

If you think Lisa's work might be out of your price range, it may come as a pleasant surprise to know her bespoke work starts at £85 for a 20cm diameter shade.

"People say it's not that expensive but I want to sell them. There's no point in making them so expensive that they are priced out of people's range. I love being commissioned and love drawing so I want to keep doing that."

Lisa,  who is a volunteer business mentor for the Prince's Trust in her spare time, orders her shades from a company in Wales - the most popular size is a 25cm - and uses an archival pen which is bleed and water resistant and doesn't fade.

The average lamp will take Lisa two to three hours to complete, although she rarely finishes them in one sitting.

"What appeals about the lampshades is their practicality. Artwork on the wall is a luxury item and hasn't got a job or a function. With a lampshade, it has a use and even when the lamp is off you still have a drawing to look at."

You can catch Lisa in action on November 18/19 from 12-6pm at Totterdown Baptist Church.

She will also be at the Best of Britannia event at St George's off Park Street on Sunday November 6 from 10am-6pm, and at a one-day market at Bristol Folk House, Park Street on Saturday December 10, 11am-5pm.

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