Laurie Lipton’s obsessive drawings are as haunting as they are captivating

8th December 2019

MadeGood – Please tell me a bit about yourself as a film maker, and how you got into directing. Is this short about Laurie Lipton typical example of your work?

James Scott – I’ve been making films since I was fourteen years old and now work mostly as an Editor making feature length documentaries. So I’ve always been making films one way or another most of my life, and sporadically I Direct films I’m passionate about in between Edits these days. Everything I work on is very different, but I suppose this is a typical example of the kind of subject I’m interested!

MadeGood – I wasn’t aware of Laurie Lipton, but her work is incredible. How did you find out about her, and what made you want to make a film about her? Was it difficult to get her involvement, and what was it like working with her? That’s amazing that you were able to interview Terry Gilliam too, please tell me a bit about that.

James Scott – The first time I saw Laurie’s work, it was completely by accident, stumbling on a book of her work in a Winnipeg bong shop. And it was a ‘religious’ experience. I’d never seen anything like them. Flipping through the pages, the incredible detail of her confrontational drawings shone through universal truths, emotionality and dark humour beyond my comprehension. As if she was speaking directly to me and reading my mind. There was something so personal about the work, which the black & white pencil palette mysteriously accentuated. It was like looking through a time machine of photographic memories, highlighting all of society’s absurdities and deepest truths.

Immediately after discovering her work I contacted her and asked to meet, and just about everything surprised me about her. Petite and scathingly funny with a huge smile, she appeared to be the antithesis of her art. And I knew I had to document her and her work. And unbelievably, she agreed.

Laurie Lipton and Terry Gilliam became friends in London, and he was gracious enough to agree to be interviewed for the film. The pair are kindred spirits for sure, and their work thematically crosses over a lot of the same subjects. Holding up a mirror with their respective art to remind us that not all is well with the world.

Laurie Lipton drawing, close-up. | MadeGood

MadeGood – Creatively, do you think you were able to learn anything from your time with Laurie Lipton, and/or from her work?

James Scott – Over the course of four years of filming our friendship grew, wrapped in the context of our shared view of the ridiculousness of our species. Opinionated and uncompromising, she showed me what it really means to be an Artist. To be yourself. Totally. And to follow your instinct. Totally.

She is absolutely fearless in tackling the most uncomfortable themes in our culture, and to me this is precisely what Art of all kinds is supposed to do.

MadeGood – She talks about herself as being slightly unhinged inside and unsociable, but she comes across as a nice person on film! What was your impression of her, was there something a bit unhinged about her?

James Scott – A lot of creative people I know, myself included, feel a bit Alien on this planet. Like we weren’t quite given the right instruction manual as everybody else. And I think when you feel like an outsider your experience with the world can feel unsociable certainly. Particularly when you become obsessed with a creative endeavour and it sort of takes over your life. That drive could definitely be seen as a little “unhinged”! But to me, Laurie is one thing: honest!

MadeGood – What are you working on next?

James Scott – I’m in the process of finishing the Edit of a feature length documentary about a brother and sister fighting on opposite sides of the Libyan Revolution. To be released in 2020.

Laurie Lipton looks through a magnifying glass | MadeGood
Laurie Lipton in a gallery looking at her own work | MadeGood

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