I don’t work to a plan. I might have an inkling of what I want to do but that’s about as far as planning goes. I like to have three projects on the go at the same time as a way to hack my ADHD; three kaleidoscopes, three collages, or three paintings, but they have to be similar projects.
The three-dimensional kaleidoscopic collages are a combination of digital and analogue. I start with an image; this could be a photograph I've taken or a medical illustration. Once I have created the final digital design I print several copies and start cutting.
I painstakingly hand cut my work with scalpels and the most delicate scissors. I cut into the design more and more with each layer. I tend to wait until I've cut all the layers before building. They average at 30 hours to cut and approximately 12 hours to build. This is a very slow process which I find enjoyable, agonising and satisfying in equal parts. Having that awareness of my brain means I can work with it rather than fight it, moving to another of the three projects when necessary to maintain a steady flow.
Lisa Travers comes from a long line of neurodiverse creatives. Her maternal grandmother was a prolific oil painter adorning her home with landscape after landscape. Her mother would paint rooms in sudden bursts of creativity so much so that Lisa was never sure the house would look the same when she returned from school. Her father would deep dive into building projects, photography, complex hand drawn plans and sketching. The walls of her childhood home were filled with her uncle’s fine art mixed media work. A solitary child due to epilepsy and her struggles with friendships she devoured the contents of the reference library, she created sets and costumes for her toys and put on performances for herself. She built toy theatres from card and found solace in the order of patterns in her colouring books and kaleidoscopes.
In the 1980’s the attitudes to disability were such that Lisa was always told she wouldn’t be able to go to university and was unemployable, so she immersed herself in her own world of work. She worked on market stalls and made wooden trinkets out of scrap wood to sell. In the 90’s she went on the road with a circus learning to play with fire, juggle and teaching herself to tightrope walk, she won funding from the Princes Youth Business Trust and owned a shop for a while. She was a tour manager for rock bands for a couple of years but it was when she ran away to work with The Invisible Circus in Bristol and on the relentless festival circuit that things started falling in to place. All of a sudden she was surrounded by creative misfit people like her with the diy punk ethos she had grown up with. She dived right in, making props, painting sets and scenery, and even taking followspot duties and learning to rig lighting. Her desire to learn was reignited so she applied for an Access Course in Art and Design and although it was difficult she excelled. Before she knew it, she was at UWE and had gained a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree.
Life changed a lot with the covid lockdowns. She was diagnosed AuDHD and came to understand herself more. She also came to understand the incredible pain she had been experiencing was Adenomyosis. She decided to concentrate her energies into her own art practice.
Lisa’s artwork is an amalgamation of all these things, her work is heavily influenced by pattern and geometry and explore issues that feel relevant such as feminism, health, social and environmental issues. She creates intricate three-dimensional kaleidoscopic collages which hypnotise and intrigue. The multi layered pieces are painstakingly hand cut using optical surgery scissors and knives.
Lisa predominantly uses found items in her work, either as inspiration or directly in the work, partly because art materials are expensive and partly because she has an incredible ability to see value in things others dismiss and throw away. She does all this with an honest insight as to why she makes work this way.
Lisa works from a small cosy studio space in The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft in the heart of Bristol, a community owned creative enterprise venue. As well as her contemporary collages Lisa designs wallpaper and fabric patterns for those who are looking for something beyond the mainstream. Lisa takes inspiration from many sources – anatomy, folk stories, pop art, punk, Victoriana, circus, biology, horror, entomology, curiosity cabinets, sci fi, psychiatry, psychedelia, the grotesque and the surreal.
Lisa has exhibited at the RWA, Spike Island and Bruton Art Factory and has designed work for Bestival and Glastonbury festivals.