THE LUCINDA SIEGER INTERVIEW
Photograph by Marius Els
Peter Herbert introduces our Artist of the Month
*Lucinda Sieger has been involved with The Arts Project and regularly welcomes guests to opening nights with songs that embrace and connect with our audience. After I visited one of her much loved and now legendary Lucie's Lounge evenings, the seeds were set to involve her in a creative event. A number of years later this blossomed into the group show '3 Places In Time' which explores the growth of three uniquely creative spirits. This interview with Lucinda Sieger follows her journey from Scotland to St Pancras with a number of fascinating detours and byways along the way. I do hope you will enjoy this very special one-off Question and Answer interview.*
Photo by Daniel Alcantarilla
Your journey so far has brought you from Scotland to London with a detour along the way involving Greece. What special memories are there from each place that you can share with us?
"I grew up in Glasgow during the 1970’s and remember being entered into a talent contest and to my joy making it through to the semi-finals. This was my first real taste of performing live. The humour of Glaswegian audiences is what I remember and formed who I am today. It took courage to stand up in a noisy bar and if you could sing in a pub in Glasgow back then, you can certainly sing anywhere now."
then London:" I moved to live and study in London in 1979, firstly at Wimbledon School of Art and then onto Middlesex Polytechnic studying Three-dimensional Design. I remember wanting to sing in a club, which would lead me to Soho and a neon sign leading downstairs to 'Cabaret Futura'. The owner, Richard Strange, gave me a slot to perform, handed me a guitar from the guitarist of the punk band on just before me and said, “on you go”. I sang my own version of Bob Dylan's 'Knocking on Heavens Door' in a sort of reggae style and one of my first self-penned songs. This led to singing at the opening of The Fridge in Brixton, supporting two punk artists who screamed and played with scissors and drums. I got paid £10 and still have the booking form."
"The Barbican Centre was the first time I was able to bring together the idea of linked music and furniture design, with set design and a performance that included fashions designed by art college friends."
and finally Greece:
" I was mesmerised on my first visit by the Greek island of Poros in 1988. This is where I met Ahetas. We went sailing, travelled by moped, and the sight and movement of the mercury sea (where the infinite horizon touched with the scent of pine trees onshore) totally absorbed me. My alter ego Harriet was created in 1988 in my first letter to Ahetas and would develop over the years to come."
Your creative life feels like a mix of music and the world of pen, brush, paints, paper and cardboard. This has an organic force that some would link to an ongoing form of performance art. How do you feel about this interpretation and, if so, are there any special influences to tell us about?
"The interpretation of performance art involving the interaction of mixed media is reflected in my work. Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World - which I won as runner up in 1984 - gave me a great opportunity to bring to life cartoon costume designs. When the theme was Earth in 1991 I was 'Miss Defying Gravity' and was a brick with wings, that was real performance art."
"Other special influences include the German architect Frie Otto and his suspended designs playing with weight, perspective and illusion. 1940's Hollywood musicals with Gershwin music and stage designs had always been a part of my life. As a child I wanted to disappear inside these sets. I also loved the voices of Carmen Miranda, Ella Fitzgerald, the expressive voice and range of Yma Sumac, as well as The Andrew Sisters harmonies. One rainy night in Italy (at a nightclub under railway arches) I discovered The Residents, who had costumes with large eyeballs for heads, which was very surreal."
Photo by Peter Herbert
How do you see the cultural and creative movements of the 1990's in particular, of which you played a part, relate to the world we live in now?
"What we did then in the 1990’s was inspired by our predecessors which is how creativity grows and changes and moves into future cultures and lives. My tools were my guitar, paper and pen. Now it is the digital tool, the social media tool, the i-phone, copy and paste and an instant video recording, and off it goes out into the world landing in the palm of another person's hand."
You show resilience and energy exploring the way an artist can challenge life in a pandemic. How much of this is an element of '3 Places In Time' and are there ways that you see your work developing?
"When given an opportunity that turns into a challenge it is very inspiring. I love being part of '3 Places in Time' as it has given me an opportunity to question life: what happens in time, what happens in space and with relationships within a global pandemic. I get to know visitors and staff interacting through my installation and the challenge is how to communicate and interact with the use of art during isolation in a lockdown. As this exhibition takes place in a hospital, I am reminded of my family with generations of doctors and the 3 years when I was the in-house hospital DJ at the Royal Marsden in Chelsea. I can see the healing quality of the arts as a form of distraction that can transport visitors and staff to a totally new headspace. This is always welcome during difficult times and offers the chance to develop my creativity."
When Lucie's Lounge reopens upstairs in the glorious upstairs room of the beautiful Victorian era pub The Bloomsbury, can you tell us what you plan to sing for your opening number and why?
"I plan to open with one of my songs 'I Believe', written in 1996. This is an optimistic song about believing in the simple things in life. It is very evident that this is exactly what we all have to do. The song from the same-titled album was reissued and released in Japan during the tsunami in 2011. They loved the album and this specific song. During this time we have also been hit globally by another tidal wave called Covid-19. People have taken to discovering their own gifts whether gardening, sewing, knitting, writing, or simply enjoying walks and looking at what is around them. For me 'I Believe' reflects this.
I am planning a future Lucie’s Lounge that will incorporate the developing installation in '3 Places In Time' which uses my signature picture-frame before the exhibition closes sometime during 2021. The idea is to invite guest singer-songwriters and a graphic comic artist to present songs using the frame with snippets of guests who have visited the exhibition. I am aiming for a beautiful, fun, pre-recorded online show. In a world where online shows are becoming normal I do look forward to bringing us together again."
How has Harriet coped with 2020 and does she want to have the final say?
"Harriet certainly found ways to get through this Covid-19 pandemic by enjoying walks in nature, observing the world around her through humour, and by diarising my life while being isolated and staying at home like the rest of the world. She has stepped out of my sketch book and into the cabinets here at '3 Places in Time', displaying the daily drawings of her adventures in lockdown. She has loved her interactions with visitors to the exhibition behind the selfie picture frame and looks forward to more interaction this year before the exhibition closes."
Her final word would be, “Live in the present moment and let your inner child be playful."
Look out for Lucinda's interview with Hellenic TV on 30/1/21 which will be available through various links.
Spotlight on Lucinda Sieger by Anna Bowman
You can follow Lucinda and the adventures of Harriet on:
You can also visit Lucinda's exhibition and online shop at:
Lucinda, thank you for being our Artist of the Month.