Richard Layzell / Lecture


Layzell began his lecture by standing at the front of the theatre and performing his ritual of ’Tai Chi’ ,quite a bizarre way to start but obviously  his own way to relax and warm up and prepare himself and definitely a way to grab everybody’s attention!

(Richard Layzell during the lecture)
(Richard Layzell during the lecture – photo my own)

He began by reading a piece called ‘This is a narrative’ which focused on details about how and why he writes: sitting down; pen to paper; paper on table etc, eventually becoming a piece of work that reflected himself and his work, written in a third person style as if he was talking to himself, about himself. This was followed by a piece of film, people walking, focusing on  the wooden slats they were walking on progressing into a man interacting with the floor, quite intimately touching, smelling, listening and licking the floor, I think it was at this point I began to feel quite confused as the lecture became disjointed with no focus on his actual work but to me it became apparent that he was turning this lecture into a piece of art,  an interesting way to present a lecture and in a way I had never seen before.

Layzell then went onto talking about a different project he had done, basically explaining that he had created characters/personas that would affect people, his first character was called ‘Bailey Savage’, a businessman come politician who was extremely loud and arrogant.  The second character was called ‘Max Hombre’ a man who represented culture and art who went around Colchester for a week with the aim of getting people to know and recognise him.  From being quite disillusioned/disengaged at the start I felt myself understanding that Layzell was a performance artist and impersonated the characters he created.  I can’t say I personally liked his work but the lecture became more engaging as he continued to interact with the audience, raising his voice, making comical comments etc, and I began to appreciate his lecture more.

More pieces he discussed were related to the previous projects in that he made more characters who were all artists, the aim of this piece was to explain what Artists do compared to ’normal’ people, which I really like the idea of.  He first made fictitious characters, then making studios for the artists, Layzell actually made various pieces of Art for the fictitious Artists making him connect with the characters, in particular a character named ‘Tania Koswycz’ which he began to develop into writing forming dialogue for a book and later an exhibition where he presented the dialogue very plainly and simply so it looked quite basic which is exactly how he like to present his work.

Finally he talked about pieces of work which were about his ancestry and how certain thing that were happening related to his ancestry, for example, on his Family Tree he had an uncle named ‘Jimmy’ and a next door neighbour called ‘Robbie’ and at a similar time Layzell discovered a story in the news about Robbie Williams and how he had recently became neighbours with Jimmy Page which was a coincidence but hearing this it lead me to believe that Layzell was interested in coincidences and connections which became very apparent in all of his works.

He brought the lecture to an end by reflecting on what he had spoken about in the lecture and the structure of it , again a totally different way from the way any other lectures had ended and again making me think that he was actually treating this as a piece of art.

Overall, I have mixed emotions about the lecture and how it was presented, it had very prominent moments and was well presented however, I can’t say I was a big fan of his work, but I can say I respected his work and he presented it with confidence, he really captivated his audience by the way his lecture spanned out and all in all it was a very interesting lecture.


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