In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve sat down with one of our incredible female artists showing at the Battersea Spring fair, Delphine Lebourgeois, to discuss her new work debuting at the fair entitled Army II & Army III. Depicting a force of women to be reckoned with, Delphine’s works reflect the changes that we’re seeing in society at the moment and reminds us that we’re far stronger together than we are apart. Read on to hear about the inspiration behind the series and to discover which female artists have influenced her the most.
Walk us through a typical day in your studio
My studio is at home so the first step to start the day would be to get out for a short walk or a swim to get some head space and create some kind of break between life and work.
Then I'm back and the day can begin! My time is usually split between creating images and all the work that surrounds it, which can be delivering pieces to a gallery, visiting my framer, picking up prints from print studios and keeping a tight record of all the admin that it entails. Working with multiples means you have to be ultra-disciplined at keeping track of where each edition is going, otherwise it can soon become total chaos.
Could you give us an insight into your creative process?
My roughs are not done in the traditional way with drawing or sketching. Instead, I use digital collage as my main tool to build the stories. The versatility of technology brings so much flexibility to one’s practice, the possibilities are endless, and it allows me to play with ideas quickly.
This initial collage is very satisfying. It's when the idea is embodied for the first time and it's the most exciting part of the process for me, in a frankenstein’s monster kind of way! Then every single element is drawn individually by hand with pen on rice paper and scanned. The final composition and colouring (if a print) are completed digitally again, so it's a 3 stages process.
Overall, I'd say that drawing is a means of conveying ideas for me, as opposed to a more experimental approach of this medium. My aim is to create images that question Illustrative and Fine Art traditions. I am committed to a type of drawing that is figurative and communicative. This is probably why I also work as a press illustrator some of the time.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your ‘Army’ series?
The first Army I did was back 2011. It was a very personal piece where I wanted to depict the struggles of surviving as a woman artist whilst retaining integrity and free creativity. Since then a lot of armed female groups have followed in my work and they always unite in fight to protect something vulnerable like childhood, innocence, freedom, irreverence etc. These tiny, pink and soft buds that need to bloom from ashes to make the world continue.
They are personal pieces of course but they also consciously echo the “gender” changes our societies are undergoing at the moment. The latest releases, Army II and III share that common theme. They are maybe a little more light-hearted than some of my previous works. Humour is a weapon of choice, one we should fight to retain as an expression of free speech and right to debate. I believe feminism is really a cry for gender equality, and not a battle of the sexes.
Which female artists have influenced you?
There are so many! I would say women performance artists are probably the ones that inspire me the most even if their work is very different from mine. I love Marina Abramovic's fearlessness, her ability to deliver a strong show, and her business acumen too.
I also love Sophie Calle because she breaks the boundaries between life and art. She is a huntress. A huntress of stories and huntress of men sometimes. Like in ‘Suite Venitienne’ where she followed a man she met randomly in Paris all the way to Venice without him knowing. She also lives surrounded by stuffed animals, each named after someone she loves.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Exhibiting with Amnesty International for People on the Move back in 2016.
Do you have any advice for emerging artists starting out on their careers today?
It's difficult to give advice because every journey is different and what may be true for one artist might not be for another. Whenever possible, try not to compromise your artwork. Find your voice, keep at it and the audience will follow. Tenacity is key!
You can see Delphine's work on Gas Gallery's stand and also featured on our Wall of Women, a celebration of some of the super-talented female artists appearing at our Battersea Spring fair, 8 - 11 March. Book your tickets now »
Header image: By Jim Clarke
Artwork images from top to bottom: Delphine Lebourgeois, Army III, Giclée on Hahnemuhle Photorag paper, 101.5 x 74cm, £800, Gas Gallery. Delphine Lebourgeois, Army II, Giclée on Hahnemuhle Photorag paper, 101.5 x 74cm, £800, Gas Gallery.