Meet The Others: Lexi Laine
The Game Changers. The Rule Breakers. The Innovators. Discover some of the fantastic emerging talent showcasing their work at The Other Art Fair.
Lexi Laine is a freediving fine art photographer who specialises in creating ethereal, other-wordly scenes in some of the world’s most unique and pristine locations. All in one breath.
Tell us about who you are and what you do. What is your background?
I am a photographic artist and I specialise in creating ethereal underwater scenes. I live in a small cottage in the South Downs national park just outside of Brighton in the UK. And I am lucky to travel a lot for my work, always seeking the most clear waters to undertake my projects. I also train as a freediver which I think is something a lot of people find interesting about the way I work. Everything I do is created on a single breath hold – a challenging pursuit but very rewarding too. As far as my background is concerned, I did a BA fine art in 2004 and have spent the time since graduating working as a commercial photographer alongside my art practice. I started making underwater art as a personal project back in 2015 and have spent the last 5 years pursuing not much else.
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
A lot of my work is a celebration of the natural beauty of the underwater world. I am drawn to creating images that are perhaps a little surreal, often quite dark, but always seeking out the most dramatic or striking light sources. I want to make images that recreate a feeling that I get when I am deep down underwater, the sensation, the light, the cool water, and the silence; in an underwater world that’s so detached from our own. I am heavily influenced by painting styles of the old masters, specifically baroque painters whose use of light added so much drama to the scenes they depicted.
How did you first get interested in your medium and what draws you to it specifically?
Almost as soon as I started my BA in fine art, I realised that lens based media was what I was drawn to. I loved spending time in the dark room, learning to develop and print my own negatives was like some form of magic to me. I have been hooked on photography as a medium ever since. There is something quite painterly about how the water can look underwater that really interests me – I love that I can try to blur the boundaries between photography and painting with this medium.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
Over the years, I’ve discovered new locations to shoot in, different models to work with, better equipment to use and all of these things come together to help me pursue my ideas. I think what has changed the most over the time is my view of the world and my attitude towards how we as humans need to be better caretakers of this planet. Last year I won a photography award and was shortlisted for several international art awards for a piece of work I made titled ‘Single Use Planet’ A piece of work I made to reflect my sadness about the amount of plastic waste dumped in our oceans every year. This piece has been a best seller and in this way validates my work and demonstrates a shared concern over the oceans.
Can you walk us through your process? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it’s finished?
So my process can really be divided into three main stages. There’s the planning stage which is a lot of research into locations, models etc. Along with concept and idea formation – normally endless lists and sketchbook drawings. I can spend several months in this planning stage before going on long trips to shoot. Earlier this year I spent a month in Mexico, working to put some of these ideas into life. I was fortunate to fit this in just before lockdown restrictions in the UK began. So the second stage is this, it’s completely immersing myself (excuse the pun) in my work for extended periods. During these trips, often initial ideas are developed further into more rounded projects and can change completely if an idea happens as I’m working. Then the final stage is bringing all of the raw material back to my home in the UK and then I spend months in the editing process. Working on each image individually, the time I spend on each one can vary a lot. Mainly I work on colour corrections, and generally tidying up an image. I want to keep the images as true to life as possible really, but occasionally removing the odd element like an ill placed air bubble can be very helpful. A complete new body of work of say 10 -15 new limited edition pieces will take around 6-9 months from start to finish.
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
I’ve always struggled with that dreaded imposter syndrome, and the best advice I was ever given was to stop trying to please everyone with my work. In attempting to make work that everyone will like, you sacrifice making work that is truly meaningful to you as an artist. So yeah, once I got my head around this I developed a confidence in my work – knowing that you can make work that is really powerful to a selection of people around the world is so much more rewarding than chasing instagram followers and likes. And the way I try to achieve this is by making work that I often tell myself I’ll never show to the world. I make work thinking this is for me and only me. Then later on, when it’s finished I’ll consider showing people, and if not I’ll just keep it to myself for a while. Without that end goal of ‘impressing’ people with my work , I am free to create work that I think is more honest and fearless.
Do you have any projects or a particular series of work that you’re working on next?
I’ve probably got another four months of editing to do from my last trip to Mexico… So that suits me well right now. There are some ideas that I worked on there which worked well and some that I‘d like to develop further on my next trip. My next trip is planned for September in the Mediterranean but it’s hard to know in today’s current situation whether that will go ahead or not right now. Like a lot of artists, I’ve had several exhibitions canceled over the last two months so now I’m working on ways to adapt and show my work in other ways. It’s fantastic to be included in The Other Art Fair’s Online Studios. What a brilliant way to support artists at this time, thank you so much!