Lissie Cowley is a visual artist and photographer based between Yorkshire and Lancashire, UK. With a focus on the environment, she creates dream-like narratives concerning the sublime and her own experiences using varied methods of photography, digital manipulation, sculpture and drawing. Cowley has a keen interest in the urbanised human relationship to landscape, believing that the health of our surroundings can reflect human behaviour and values.
Inspired by the juxtaposition between analogue and digital, Cowley creates digital works that interpret the overlapping of time and memory. In an attempt to mirror the nature of technology and communication in the Anthropocene, she concentrates on work that can be displayed via projection or screen, and continues to work in a paperless manner, never producing physical work unnecessarily. Her work alludes to camping, the Romantic Sublime, colonialism, and questions the misleading advertisement of so-called 'wilderness' by the Tourism industry.
In the studio, Cowley investigates contemporary tourism culture by manipulating the photographs from her father’s visit to Iceland in 1969 with her own, in 2016. By choosing to re-purpose her Father’s 35mm slides of Iceland, she illustrates ideas of environmental change, development, and memory. In April 1969, the artist’s father was travelling with his friends across the Icelandic wilderness in a mini-bus, camping as they went. He took the family camera, back in the time when film was precious, when every shot was considered. 47 years on, Cowley made the same journey, and by coincidence she visited some of the same places. Via the format of a photograph, moments together were shared and two generations look upon the same scene.
But there were also differences. No crowds swarm the natural wonders of her father’s photographs. No tourist offices and boat tour stalls line the harbour in Reykjavik.He took an overnight ferry to get there whereas Cowley took a two-hour flight. This made her consider how due to tourism the landscape has developed drastically, subsequently inspiring her to create double exposures from the old and new photographs. Memories overlap with each other, but her father remembers a sense of wilderness far greater than she does. Time is not linear but overlapping, the past informs the present, and the present informs the past, one cannot understand the reason why one thing happened without the other.