Juliette Losq on Watercolors, Borderlands, and Her New Exhibition at Waterhouse & Dodd

Waterhouse & Dodd
Oct 27, 2016 8:50AM

Juliette Losq's first solo exhibition has recently opened at Waterhouse & Dodd. Her hauntingly beautiful watercolours transport the viewer to the neglected borders of the city between disused urban environments and the encroaching countryside. We took some time to delve further into the technique and inspiration behind these intricate paintings included the exhibition "Terra Infirma."


Waterhouse & Dodd: Your paintings are incredibly detailed, can you explain the process involved in producing them? 

Juliette Losq: I was originally inspired by the process of building up an etching plate. The detail is built up by masking out areas and applying colours over this, working from the lightest to the darkest tones. After all the resist is removed, I add more depth and detail. 

W&D: Your skill in depicting light and water is mesmerising, how have you been able to capture this so realistically in your work? 

JL: Because I work tonally I'm drawn to images that have interesting or extreme lighting effects in them. They lend themselves to this way of building up tone and colour in layers. The lightest areas are purely the paper, and I enjoy the fact that reflections and light shafts allow me to show the raw materials and the construction of the painting itself.

W&D: What convinced you to return to Fine Art after you worked in the city? 

JL: I'd always wanted to go to art school, but was convinced out of it by my school, who felt I should study something "academic." I don't regret studying English literature and art history, as these have ended up informing my work, but after I finished studying these I needed to earn money quickly so that I could afford to go to art school. Within three years I'd managed to do this, whilst at the same time going to night school and Saturday classes to build up a portfolio to apply with. 

W&D: What first drew you to the subject of the borderlands? 

JL: I grew up in the suburbs and used to play in places like this, longing to be in the countryside. Finding a new place to build a den was exciting and slightly scary at the same time - was it already occupied, for example? 

W&D: Is there a reason for the heightened sense of colour in your recent work? 

JL: I've moved to a new studio, which is an old boatyard master's office on the Thames. Having never had windows in my studios in central London, I now have a whole wall of them. I always thought natural light was not necessary, and I think as an artist you always find a way of managing with what you have. Now I have daylight, it's definitely opened up new possibilities.

W&D: What is the inspiration behind your "Diorama" series? 

JL: I'm interested in Victorian optical devices. Previously I've made a giant Myriorama and an installation inspired by a Magic Lantern pop-up book. After reading about how these devices employed layering and artificial lighting to enhance the viewer's experience I was inspired to experiment. The toy theatre and travelling theatre, also Victorian inventions, are obvious points of reference. 

W&D: What was appealing about creating the installation ‘Sentinel’ in collaboration with the furniture designer David Penrose? 

JL: This was a true collaboration in the sense that we worked on it in tandem from beginning to end. We sat for a day drawing out ideas. I would pass mine to him and vice versa, then the other person would work over the design. David is also my partner, so I knew how finely crafted his work is and also that he has the ability to make unusual and technically difficult objects. Prior to this I had used furniture in my work, but only relatively low grade items sourced from auction sites and antique warehouses. By working with Dave I had the opportunity to create a piece of work where the object and painting were symbiotic, rather than making a drawing in response to or evolving from an existing item. 

W&D: On closer inspection, there are sometimes creatures lurking in the background, are there sinister intentions here or is humour playing a role in your works?

JL: I'd say they are humorous—they are sketchy characters drawn from Penny Dreadfuls and old prints. Artists would make impressions based on tales they had heard from abroad: a giant squid attacking a boat, a boa constrictor lurching out of a cupboard. Often they'd never seen these creatures and this, combined with the sheer melodrama of the human illustrations and their expressions, makes for comical and quirky viewing.

W&D: The works are so atmospheric, are there particular films or film directors that have inspired you?

JL: Stalker directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is certain of the old Universal Studios horrors with their exaggerated backdrops. The Company of Wolves, directed by Neil Jordan, which was unusual for a modern film in that the forest backdrop was created especially for the film, to the Director's specifications. It's beautiful and sinister at the same time.

Waterhouse & Dodd