Monday, March 1, 2010

Me, Myself

The Art of Lily Mae Martin
by Stephanie Chefas

When Lily Mae Martin's piece, 'Me, Myself', arrived at the gallery, it was unanimous that this image would be the face of our first curated show "The Devil Made Me Do It". The piece embodied our concept perfectly; the idea of a sinister alter-ego persuading an otherwise content self to do evil acts on ourselves as well as others. Then 'Touchy Subject' appeared and the Squids knew we had not only an incredible talent, but also a unique voice on our hands. Here Lily Mae shares some insight on what makes her "tick".

Stephanie Chefas (SC): When hearing about the theme for The Devil Made Me Do It, what was your initial reaction?

Lily Mae Martin (LM): I was very excited about the theme of the show. It was great to be invited to participate in an exhibition that celebrated artwork that didn't have to be cute or pretty.

SC: What are some things in your life that the devil made you do?

LM: Made me do his laundry once, very dirty knickers. Never again.

SC: What was your most memorable dream or nightmare?

LM: I have intense nightmares and they are quite consistent. Without going into too much detail they are always about the loss of power or not having control of myself or control of the situation I find myself in. Fortunately I can usually wake myself up from them before they get too bad.

SC: Can you tell me about your process?

LM: When I come up with ideas I like to immediately write them down in a notebook or sketchbook. Depending on how big the idea feels to me I sometimes talk it over with people to develop it in my mind, or I get straight into taking reference photos, sketching, and experimenting with how I am going to draw the final piece. Some drawings just come out really fast and others take a long time to get out, so I tend to have a few things going at once. This means that if an idea is proving difficult for me I can always move onto something else and come back to it when I'm ready. The main thing is that I am continually drawing and developing more ideas for the future.

SC: 'Me, Myself ' is such an intense image. How do you see this piece?

LM: 'Me, Myself' is an important piece for me personally. Creating it was very much an exercise in releasing some of my personal demons, and it was a turning point in how I wanted to pursue my art. It's loaded with all the things I used to torture myself with. I've come a long way since then so the subject matter isn't as relevant to me as it once was, but it is a piece I am very grateful for.

SC: Things to torture yourself? Can you expand on these "things"?
LM: Well, I guess the best was to describe it is that I was my own worse enemy. I tortured myself with setting myself unrealistic goals and expectations. It got to a point where when anything really amazing did happen, I wouldn't take the time to appreciate it, I'd instantly get to work on something else, so I had very little joy with anything I did. I'm also my harshest critic, so it is good I have my partner around to tell me to leave a drawing or myself alone! I'm much better with these things though, I can usually tell when I am pushing myself too far and can stop myself.

SC: Touchy Subject is a very honest portrayal of the natural female form. I know from reading your blog, the piece had quite a negative reaction by some and consequently it was banned on Facebook. Have you received positive reactions or reviews for this work?

LM: Having it removed from so many websites was a very frustrating and it made me feel pretty powerless at the time. I had no say in what happened, however I do have my own website in which I am allowed the freedom to post whatever I like, so I wasn't as stuck as some other people would be. I guess I was really quite surprised with how many people missed the point. I was especially surprised with the reactions from some women. I even got a "my child could see that" argument. I think there are far more damaging things your child could be exposed to on the web than my art.
Overall I did get far more positive and honest feedback about this work than negative. The positive and honest feedback was far more interesting and inspiring and the negative reactions were a bit tiresome and typical.

SC: Would you like to share one or some of the positive reactions?
LM: I don't think I should quote anyone, as some of the responses where very personal, but the fact that people were willing to share such personal stories with me was really amazing. I felt that I put myself out there, and then had this amazing network of people, both known and unknown to me, stepped up and embraced it. Very special.

SC: Tell me about your influence when creating Touchy Subject?

LM: The idea was a big one for me as it was quite personal in nature. I talked a bit about this idea before proceeding with the drawing and had a few negative reactions to it that provoked me to create it even more.

As a young woman I feel that there is a real femininity that woman my age seem to have lost. The removal of pubic hair is the very obvious change in this generation of woman. I think it not only makes women look like children, but also quite androgynous. I don't understand why women wish to hide adulthood and the femininity, sexuality, and liberation that comes with that.

And of course, this is also about masturbation. Something that I find a lot of woman will not speak about and this is also curious to me. I do want to explore this subject further, but it is such a large and complex issue that I think it is something I can put on the back burner for now and come back to.

SC: Your work has a feminist feel; strong, smart and independent. Is this how you would describe yourself? Or would these be qualities you strive to achieve?

LM: This is certainly how I hope for my work to come across. I have moments of self doubt and I know I am constantly trying to improve my work and myself. The issues that I present in my drawings are very important to me and often can be confronting to others. I always strive to be sure of my views and opinions before putting them into a public forum. By the same token I like to keep an open mind to the opinions of others, as long as they are willing extend me the same courtesy.

SC: What are you creating at the moment?

LM: At the moment I am doing a lot of life drawing, as I like to keep developing my skills. I am really enjoying it at the moment. I'm in the process of working on a piece about gossip as well as some nudes, and I am always filling up my sketchbook with new drawings of animals.

SC: What is the most notable compliment, comment or critique about your work you've ever received?

LM: The most notable comments where again received with the 'Touchy Subject' image. I received a lot of emails about other woman's personal journeys, their sexuality and their struggles, which was quite inspiring for me. It showed that my work actually meant something to people and it's really inspired me to push my work further.

For more information and to view Lily Mae's available artwork from "The Devil Made Me Do It" group show, visit
WWA gallery. To learn more about Lily Mae and her art, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment