All of art is a process of healing, of saying, of preserving our identityPaul Mikula Phansi Museum Durban
For Lisa Todd, living in lockdown has brought back many of the feelings and memories from her early years struggling with the isolation of dystonia. It was social media that turned things around, offering a lifeline and an opportunity to connect, share and inspire others.
Lisa’s favourite quote is an Xhosa saying “Ubuntu” or “I am because you are”; creativity and collaboration are intrinsic and it is the people around her that infuse her work with joy and passion. Being unable to get outside, explore, adventure and socialise can make the most creative person run short of ideas and struggle to be inspired. Perhaps Lisa’s moodboard of the people, places and things that inspire her work can inspire you too.
Lisa is often inspired by the amazing Utopian artist Minnie Pwerle and her striking patterns and artwork that tell stories of landscape and heritage from Central Australia.
Lisa is passionate about African art and her awardwinning Ndebele collection drew inspiration from Esther Mahlangu, described as “Mama Africa”, a figurehead and global ambassador for African art.
Childhood memories from Durban
Growing up in Durban, South Africa colour and creativity were in abundance. Memories of rickshaw boys on Durban beachfront inspired some of her beadwork, and the image of African women going to church on Sunday afternoons in their brightly coloured ‘uniforms’ has repeatedly inspired her over the years.
Kimono designs and Japanese art
The incredible patterns designed by Japanese designer Takahashi Kiroko (who is a friend on Instagram) is another one of Lisa’s inspiring sources of creativity. Seeing her work in the flesh at the ‘Kimono’ exhibition at the V&A just before lockdown was a highlight of 2020!
David Hockney A Bigger Splash (1973)
Hockney’s biographical film The Big Splash explores his work from California to Yorkshire as his inspiration changes from swimming pools to hedgerows with wry humour and narration throughout.
During these strange times Lisa often turns to YouTube to switch off A favourite is the interior design channel Quintessence, which gives an insight into beautiful homes all over the world.
Netflix’s new Regency era show Bridgerton is sheer escapism, the interiors and costumes fuse two of Lisa’s favourite things; love heart pastel colours and her second home, Bath, where some of the show is filmed.
Fashion and interiors
The Dolce and Gabbana 2013 ready-to-wear fashion show based on beautiful 12th century Sicilian mosaic tiles has stuck in Lisa’s mind ever since seeing it. Dolce and Gabbana’s 2019 home appliances collaboration with Smeg is also one of her favourite fashion and interior collabs; she was thrilled to have one of her trays featured with the Smeg range in Hello magazine and ES style magazine.
Etro is an Italian design house. Their paisley scarves are always at the top of Lisa’s wishlist to add to her scarf museum. Scarves are essential to support your neck and head with cervical dystonia, and these are the most stunning ones out there.
Singing, dancing and music
Nothing clears a creative fog like good music – from any genre! For many years, the disabling effects of dystonia prevented Lisa from dancing but she is grateful for the moments she gets to dance. Lisa’s creativity playlist is extensive including:
Graceland by Paul Simon
Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind and Fire
In tough moments Lisa’s (late) great pal and PR Simon Midgley always said…“I’m done adulting, let’s all be mermaids.”
If you ask a colourist it’s all of them ( maybe not mustard!) but especially turquoise, pink, cobalt and light blue violet.
Lisa’s guilty pleasure during lockdown is fresh British flowers delivered door to door from Clowance flowers in Cornwall. She loves the colour and rhythm in the shapes of an iris, and the tulips transition from formal to floppy and floosie and the orange energy focused in long tapered points of a Strelitzia.
Bath stone buildings
The unbleached titanium is calm, safe and soothing.
One of Lisa’s university theses was on body painting. Her interest was helped by a dashing French academic who took a liking to her and helped her translate one of her source books Le Corps Peint.
Audiobooks are a wonderful way to escape the chaos of everyday life and soothe the mind. Lisa’s favourites are; The Girls by Lori Lansens, The Confession by Jessie Burton, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Michael McIntyre’s Life and Laughing autobiography.
Instagram (of course)
These are Lisa’s top inspiring Instagram accounts to follow to get you out of a creative slump:
Ian Davenport @iandavenportofficial
Lubaina Himid CBE @lubainapics
Durban African Art Centre @africanartcentre
Gordon Seward @seward.artiste.peintre
The Colour Girl Group @thecolourgirlgroup
Nothing is more impressive than grand, unique or stunning architecture. These buildings are particularly inspiring:
The Alhambra Palace Granada Spain
Eltham Palace London
Somerset House London
Holburne museum Bath
The Chrysler Building New York