Pleasure Garden

Liz Neal is represented by Sartorial Contemporary Art

After gaining some notoriety for her contribution to the Martin Maloney curated show 'Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys on the Life of the People' (2001), Charles Saatchi in fact, purchased every item she exhibited in this show, a room full of explosive canvases and collages, inspired by prostitutes advertising cards and pages torn from porn magazines.

Having successfully completed her formal art school education, Neal who was living in a North London council flat at the time used the front room as her studio – and quite literally, painted herself in. Masking every inch of the wall space, including the ceiling which was covered with unstretched painted canvas, stitched together and then stapled to the walls. Sewing intricately over fixtures such as radiators and light switches, on to which she painted directly, material draped onto the floor, paintings leant against walls, and sculptures were worked upon in remaining spaces.

Walking into her flat was like entering an Aladdin’s cave of porn magazines, fake jewellery, emptied tubes of oil paint, and spectacular visual decadence. Images of women swirl naked on the ceiling, butt-cheeks spread, looking down on the viewer with intent. Legs, thighs, breasts, cocks and faces overlapping, a hallucinatory tableau of multiple blow-jobs, merging into a riot of flesh. Yet this was an Aladdin’s cave with a particularly English domestic feel – an opening in the installation through patio windows provided a view onto a 70s council estate in Archway and in the romantic distance Highgate.

Having concentrated on painting and sculptural experimentation whilst developing her interest in needlework, within this domicile, come studio space for over six months, during which time the work in progress was broadcast live by webcam on SHOWstudio in a studios project called 'Watching Paint Dry’. Neal decided to reveal her labours to a larger audience by holding a variety of open studio events the first being “Bacchus Rides Out” (2002), a celebratory private view, for her family, neighbours, fellow artists, new found art world contacts, and all and sundry interested in her endeavour.

One of the visitors, artist Cathy Lomax invited her to dismantle the project and reassemble it, for an exhibition at her Transition gallery in London’s east end “The Lair of the Lotus Eater” (2004). Here the work was billed as a homage to experimentation, fantasy and debauchery, not only did Neal take to pieces and reassemble the work, she exchanged her flat in north London for a tenement in Hoxton, where she has carried on her creative practice within her home surroundings. The work inevitably carries the trace of Neal’s former living place, and also acts as an archive of her potent artistic practice.

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