Lydia Elliott

BA (Hons) Fine Art - Canterbury


“The logic of validation allows us to move between the two limits of dogmatism and skepticism.”

This quote by French philosopher Paul Ricoeur initiates a conversation around the justification of interpretation that my work has become engaged in. A consistent feud between the longing for non-concurrent internal or external validation has taken this body of work back to the contextual ground upon which an intrinsic need for external validation was harboured. Educational environments, since the 18th century have placed an importance on factual subjects and rote learning whilst simultaneously diminishing the creative space necessary for an ultimately more open and empathetic experience of the world. 

The caricatures born from revisited child drawings, seen mostly in pencil on a variety of surfaces present themselves as both Surrealist Realist and together form a collage of objects that give space for comedic, earnest, authored and discrete narratives to come through. The obvious presence of pencil allows for a resonance with school and a certain childlike aesthetic but as a medium, permits the transference between the external validation found at either end of the scale of dogmatism and skepticism and the internal validation found somewhere in between. Drawn meticulously and scrawled on mundane, classroom objects, they create visual disorder in a (usually) uniformed, controlled, and impersonal context. These small visual acts of anarchy seek to display themselves as a reaction to the way that academic systems teach us what to do, say, experience and think rather than how to. 

‘(Title)’ depicts a quaint school desk in a more open space than its ordinarily boxed in, four walled classroom. The twin style function of the desk allows for a sense of duality to be played upon. An open, ordered and obvious side plays on the supposition of such uniformity being encouraged in a school setting. Conjoined, a subtle sense of creative secrets spilling out despite being trapped shut by an overturned chair and a pair of teacher’s shoes, maintain the narrative of difference and creativity being discouraged if they begin to go beyond the four walls of thinking. Through the caricatures, etchings, stickers and marked memorabilia, a level of satirical authorship, much like John Baldessari and David Shrigely’s work, comes into play. The humanisation of an inanimate and identity-less object within a public context, draws on inspiration from Barry McGee and his use of public art to address social concerns. ‘(Title)’ aims to create a relatable and empathetic experience for the viewer as they attach their own identity and experience to an object they would have also once, to some extent, psychologically associated with. I hope that in doing so, some level of self-validation not encouraged in the viewer’s original experience of these classroom artefacts, is recognised through their revisitation of them.

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Lydia Elliott | Fine Art 5
'Year Zero', 2022, inside desk - open side
Lydia Elliott | Fine Art 4
Lydia Elliott | Fine Art 3
Lydia Elliott | Fine Art 2
Lydia Elliott | Fine Art 1
Lydia Elliott | Fine Art