LCF Associate Lecturer Martha Zmpounou has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and her work was on display at Jerwood Space. The Jerwood Drawing Prize has established a reputation for its commitment to championing excellence, and to promoting and celebrating the breadth of contemporary drawing practice within the UK. The exhibition provides a platform to showcase the work of drawing practitioners, from student to established, and as a project helps to define a wider understanding of the role and value of drawing in creative practice.
As an Associate Lecturer at LCF, Martha has teached in BA (Hons) Fashion Illustration, Fashion Business School and BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion. LCF News caught up with Martha to discuss the exhibition, what inspires her and fashion drawing at LCF.
How would you describe your style?
My style changes according to the theme I have in mind. I think most of my recent works can be described as mixed media drawings; a combination and juxtaposition of realistically depicted elements with more abstract/expressive ones.
You say your sketches use elements of fashion and architecture as the ‘skin’ and ‘shell’ to hide and reveal human identities. Why do humans try to hide their identities?
I don’t think they try to. I see it as something that happens to them, a part of who they are. I’m interested in modalities of hiding and revealing, as forms of communication and expression. It also draws from the Jungian persona, the mask we create to adjust to our social environment. Fashion and architecture are territories where this play happens.
How does it feel being shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing prize?
It feels great! The Jerwood drawing prize is a much celebrated annual exhibition focused purely on the practice of drawing, and on what drawing can be today. It’s a good show to be part of.
Who are the most interesting contemporary drawers around today?
Many amazing drawers out there – I think my list is actually endless, so not sure where to start. From the illustration world I’d single out Howard Tangye, Rob Phillips, Richard Kilroy, Robert Knoke and Daniel Egneus. In fine arts, I love the work of Marlene Dumas and Wangechi Mutu. I also admire the works of other artists such as Lanfranco Quadrio, Stephan Balleux, Charles Avery, Jen Ray, Elias Kafouros, Hope Gangloff, Wardell Milan, just to name a few.
What inspires you to draw?
Whatever happens when my imagination clashes with my everyday life. It’s the cross breed of these two that urges me to draw.
You’ve previously collaborated with Nike, Phillip Morris and UAL. Do drawings lose creativity when working with clients?
Not at all, but the scope and process are different. A client’s brief not only sets restrictions but also opens up opportunities, which may well be quite stimulating and take you somewhere you wouldn’t go otherwise.
What do you think your drawings say about you?
I have no idea, Maybe a lot. On a first level, it’s evident I love colour, and experimenting a lot with media and new ideas. Maybe even a refusal to fully grow up and stick to a single style.
Will fashion always need drawers, or could everything become digital one day?
I hope that fashion won’t amputate itself by going digital only. Hand drawing and sketching have always been important to fashion and design in general, a way to express ideas, both fast and captivating.
What advice would you give to fashion drawers and illustrators after graduating?
It’s a cliche, but the key is to keep on drawing and be creative no matter what. Make it a habit and you’ll grow more into it. When things get tough (they often do) it’s your love and commitment to your practice that will stand out.