We asked Richard Lewer 5 questions in the lead up to his new solo exhibition As I stepped out into the bright sunlight.
Q. What’s your earliest memory of seeing a piece of art, and why did it make you tick?
My earliest memory of seeing a piece of art was when I was 11 years old. It was a drawing of Noah’s Ark that I bee-lined to see every time I visited the school library. I think it was the first time I realised a picture was a form of visual language that could be used to tell a story or document day to day life.
Q. What were you like as a child? Were you creative?
For as long as I can remember I’ve always painted or drawn or made “creations”. Recently my kindergarten teacher told my Mother she could never get me away from the painting table, I was obsessed, wouldn’t listen, it was all about the painting. I don’t think things have changed too much. I set up a small studio under the house when I was 13 and painted every day. It was my escape and sanctuary.
Q. If you weren’t working full time as an artist, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t an artist I would probably be an undercover cop.
Q. Your work often responds to news and events are they are unfolding. What is it about the news cycle that inspires you?
Storytelling is a fundamental part of my practice. A large part of the process involves getting out of the studio and immersing myself in a place, community, group or subculture - like a journalist of sorts - to deep dive, connect to and document people’s backstories, issues and events. I get a lot from face to face interaction, conversation and listening. As a contemporary social realist I do this to better understand a point of view, a community’s reaction or just to make better sense of the world around.
Q. Given you work from your home studio how do you structure your day to separate work from home?
My daily routine involves getting up early then hitting the studio at 7.30am. I’m there for the day until about 3pm when I head off to open the boxing gym I run from 4-7pm daily. I love the contrast the boxing gym brings to my day, it balances me and there’s so much going on and so many characters and it all helps to put life into perspective.