Hats In a Pandemic – Solo Exhibit
Featuring the work of Multimedia Artist
A note from Lizz, aka The ‘Subversive Granny’
“These hats came into being at the beginning of self-quarantine in March 2020, when ‘normal’ ceased to be normal and where everything took on a strange perspective. It was a time when I felt a certain sense of powerlessness creeping in. As such, It was the perfect time to embark on a creative journey such as this. Everything fell into place easily; the idea of using the hats as a visual expression of what I was feeling during a world crisis, the availability of materials to make them, all of which I had been collecting for years and above all time, unfettered time without pressure to bring them to life. My creative imagination went into top gear and there was no stopping me. The first hat in the series, “Subversive Granny” stems directly out of the the challenges and confusion I was facing at the onset of the pandemic. It was hard to sort fact from fiction, and with that energy informing me, I went ahead and made my tinfoil hat creation. When I mustered up the courage to share the image online, I was surprised and pleased that people connected with it. This kicked off a 60-day creative project in which I committed to creating art every day, producing an incredible series of fun and satirical hats to express myself through the challenges of the early pandemic days.
Social media was a super outlet for my creativity where I unintentionally suddenly found an audience who loved what I was doing. I put myself ‘out there’, something as an artist I have been trying to do for years. Boldness entered my life.
As an older woman of 67, the photographs you see in this exhibit are authentically revealing the many sides of my fun-loving nature and my love of clowning. I fearlessly reveal myself, without worrying of what people will think, I am not concerned by the etched lines on my face or the sagging skin round my neck, and this is a huge part of the creative statement I am making. Unless one is well known or has celebrity status older woman tend to fade into the background having outlived their shelf life. Hats in a pandemic changed all this for me, and for 60 days I was my true authentic self. The hats gave permission for me to be me, freeing characters that had long been suppressed and enabling me to present myself to the public in an unashamed completely over the top way!”
#1 – “Subversive Granny”
Materials: Tinfoil and found objects
April 21 Museum Show
Lizz, on the Hat Creation Process…
“The ideas for hats presented themselves to me out of the ethers and I was often surprised by the elaborate outcome of the meaning behind each creation. Most of the hats came into being fairly easily, some took days, a few stayed as an idea for weeks before finally being birthed, often in a flurry of excitement. Others were made well in advance before being presented, waiting for the right moment to be shown and still others just popped up and were made in a jiffy. The title/name of the hat might be in the first idea or it might come later when the hat is completed.
They all began from a sudden thought, a kind of light bulb illumination and grew until fruition. I saw pictures in my head and tried to follow through immediately gathering the required accoutrements. I always got incredibly excited in the early stages of putting a new hat together, going so quickly I frequently messed up what I was doing. I would knock off pieces I had just attached or lose a vital addition that had taken so long to find by unconsciously putting it somewhere whilst looking for something else.
The vital addition could be anywhere in a multitude of messes strewn over the floor or on a number of work surfaces that seemed to increase as the hat frenzy took over. My studio became like an obstacle course requiring skilled stepping round and hopping over. I confess I spent a lot of time hunting for mislaid items during the hat attack, although most times synchronicity was at play and the missing piece turned up along with some other relevant addition. A lot went missing, scissors disappeared as did string and elastic, but other things which I had forgotten about showed up at exactly the right time, so the energy was always very motivating.
I loved making the hats and I was in my element doing what I loved doing. Being creative is a vital component of life and under these circumstances I positively thrived. The Heyoka archetype in me took over and by allowing myself to be both silly and thought provoking, I overcame boundaries that have stood in my path for years. The relief of finally putting to use some of the vast stash of materials I have been collecting for years was a blessing.”
#2 – “Dancing With Death”
Materials: Decorative birds nest , natural found objects
I am using creativity and humor to process my inner life. There is a lot of fear on the air waves. I purchased this particularly good mask, early in February amidst the laughter of my friends and family. I saw what was coming. Thankfully, I have not yet used it as I haven’t been out of the house for over 3 weeks. I borrowed the hat from Skelly, our live-in skeleton that resides in the front room…(the man I live with studied medicine) so in a sense both the mask and the hat have a connection.
#3 – “What’s Going On?”
Materials: Cut out plastic question marks, hat made from old food carton and paper plate, 5g tower made from found object and paper
So many differing narratives about 5G. How do we find out? As I paint, I ponder. My mind runs over all the books I have read, the films I have seen, the podcasts I have listened to, the groups I have been involved with, the things I have been told, the info I have been fed. I try to look at our current situation with non-attachment and see countless possibilities of what this is all about.
#4 – “Hope For the Future”
Materials: Old basket, tinsel , battery powered lights, plastic unicorn
This was a birthday gift I received, and I thought it fitting to show at this stage of the pandemic. Life is not all doom and gloom. We are not all going to die. Don’t give up hope. Create change. Untold possibilities await us.
#6 – “It’s All Between My Ears”
Materials: Hat made from food carton decorated with birds, pipe cleaners, wooden hearts, headphones
My Thinking Caps are small ‘captures’ of how I relate to our current adversity and they arise out of a need to process the huge amount of information coming my way. Its easy to be confused and led off track. Sometimes I need to refocus. Realizing that everything that happens in my head is a byproduct of me.
Lizz, on Hat Making and Clowning Around!
I have been a hat maker since the early 90’s and used to travel to festivals in England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands selling them in my old green Renault Traffic van called Tommy, (named by Rosie). Rosie who was alive and laughing at that time was often with me and we had such fun, we did this together for about 4 years until that little love changed dimensions and left planet earth. I shared Rosie with her father who moved further and further away from where I lived, finally moving to Southern Spain, which was how the hat trade started up.
In the 80’s juggling and fire spinning became quite popular and a whole new genre of renegade circus performing acts sprang up everywhere. (Anyone remember the French circus group called Arkaos?) To accommodate this interest in juggling, trapeze, fire, clowning and other circus related skills, (no animals folks), Juggling and circus conventions began to become popular, especially in France. They were wonderful meeting places where not only could I improve my own juggling and clowning abilities, but they presented a great hat selling opportunity. It made all those long-haul journeys bearable and provide some sort of income that covered the costs of fuel. So, I made funny hats, individual crazy hats of all sizes, a hat for every head. I had a hat for everyone, and they went down well. I got to be known as The Hat Lady. Hats have been part of my life.
And here I am again. Making hats. This time making hats for me, using hats as a both a creative expression and a voice. What is arising as I make these artistic pieces is something I had not predicted; I am coming face to face with myself. This is both physically – I look in the mirror a lot, and mentally – I reflect on what I see. For some years I really worked on clowning, attending courses here there and everywhere with some of the best mime and clown artist ever, and one thing all clowns must learn is that working with the clown demands that you look inside, it demands that you use your face as an expression. It turns out I have an elastic type of face and I can make the strangest expressions. I must admit over the years I have spent hours in front of mirrors making faces, faces that few people see, faces that NOBODY has seen. Some of them are quite scary and a lot are definitely not beautiful. This is where I am now, beginning to step over the line. The rebel in me is saying nothing to lose, don’t be scared, tomorrow maybe dead… I don’t know where this is all leading but something has changed in me.
#11 – “Numbness”
Materials: Eye mask, headphones, panty liner, neck collar, small hat made from plastic packing
Earlier today I posted a nice little hat called The Garden Party. I realized I was avoiding my feelings. In making these hats I meet myself and it brings up lots of stuff. Deep stuff. Also overdrive from news I have a deep sense of Numbness in me today.
#13 – “Caught Up in the Net”
Materials: Recycled door wreaths, decorative birds nest, the bird on top is a hat in itself made from an old butter tub covered with hessian and feathers, found birds skull, net found in rubbish
It would appear that I am ego obsessed, or at least that is one of the traps I fall into to stop myself from being successful. Oh, you are just showing off. Maybe I was called a show-off at school? Maybe I was? Maybe I just wasn’t seen for who I was.
#15 – “Brain Train”
Materials: Hat from China, Brio train track, battery operated train
I sent it to my grandson who is 14 (it was his train from long ago) and he said, “I don’t remember the train but it’s a scary video.” I replied, “We are living in scary times.” Brain, train, drain, sane, were words that came up during its creation. The hat incidentally was bought from China over 20 years ago.
#16 – “Powerless”
Materials: Old ‘Oliver’ hat covered with electrical wire and plugs
I woke up feeling powerless. So much blah blah blah going on coming from everywhere and nothing I could do about anything except stay at home wash my hands and wear a mask.
Note: Shortly after posting this hat, I received an email from Renas, a Norwegian electrical company using recyclable energy, who wanted to buy the right to use the photograph in their advertising campaign. This was a wonderful surprise and I gladly accepted.
#17 – “3D Glasses”
Materials: Old bowler hat, play moustache, 3D glasses
The day I made this portrait I was in need of a new perspective on life. My room was a mess and by rights, were it not for covid I should have been on an art course with the brilliant Michal Shimoni, something I had so been looking forward too. Whilst tidying up my studio I found the magic specs, hidden away under a pile of sewing stuff. Putting them on the 3D glasses immediately gave me a quick fix. Getting dressed up and putting on a false moustache clinched the deal… and hey presto everything changed. No point sitting around complaining.
#19 – “Hunting For the Truth, Looking for Traps”
Materials: Plain safari hat, bamboo from garden, binoculars
Mental Traps. There are many on the path, some well-hidden and some right in front of our very eyes. Fear of being successful, fear of sounding boastful, fear of perhaps underneath all the high of loved hats there lurks that feeling that somehow you are cheating. Fear that this expansion is not possible for you…
#20 – “Taking a Break”
Materials: Old 60s straw hat, cocktail umbrellas,
made pipe cleaner people
It would have been wonderful to have taken a real break from the whole kerfuffle of death and despair but alas, this was not possible. Holidays were definitely out the question, so it was down to having a holiday inside my head. With a hat on top, of course.
#21 – “Getting My Head Above the Clouds”
Materials: Cardboard, ribbon, pillow stuffing
Often, I had big deliberations about whether to post a photo or not. Could I get away with it? Not another one with a scraggy neck, and look at those wrinkles. As you see some of the photographs are not what one would call flattering, not in the least, but then that’s part of the statement. What am I doing with these hats? What am I doing with me? Who am I?
“Finally, there came a point when I was ready for the first photo sitting; the camera is prepared, my props are handy, and the hat is ready. All is in place. Except its not. A lot of fumbling and faffing occurred as it was quite difficult doing the shoots myself. All the photos were done with my phone and apart from one or two such as the Brain Train I have taken them all myself as ‘selfies’. As a selfie avoider I had to overcome the negative connotations I had about doing selfies and this alone was a huge step of boldness.”
#23 – “The Ultimate Lie Detector”
Materials: Old hanging basket which I was going to throw away but when I saw it I thought of Pinocchio’s hat, painted red. Collar made from cardboard box, large black button covered badge, nose egg box
As I sifted through my garden accoutrements I came upon an old battered hanging basket and was about to throw it away, but as I held it in my hand the shape of it reminded me for some reason of Pinocchio’s hat. And with that thought the first seed was sown. Pinocchio, lies, nose, hmmmm. There was a hat in this old basket, an idea had come in.
#24 – “Needle Therapy”
Materials: Used acupuncture needles, old wool hat, pillow stuffing, flute cleaning tool
After 24 days of the Hat Attack and all the associated symptoms: an over-inflated ego, exhibitionist syndrome, exposing myself to others, the worry of how long the attack would last, I got me a bit of needle therapy. You can see I really needed this.
#25 – “Gardener’s Nightmare”
Materials: Flower pot, assorted used flowers, jelly slug, snail shells found in France, plastic insects,
two decorative small seed containers made by a Kent artist
Undercover agent Dizzy Lizzy in disguise. Gardeners Nightmare is a code name for an international operation. Don’t be deceived by those innocent looking flower pots…or those flowers. Nothing is as it appears. Finally that slug Hal gave me for Christmas some years ago has found a use!
#26 – “Another Brick In the Wall”
Materials: Cardboard box, brick wallpaper, Lego from Grandkids old toys
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
#33 – “Anyone for a Nice Cup of Tea?”
Materials: White shirt and old maid cap
A nice cup of tea, always good to lift the spirits, and don’t we just need that today. Our spirits lifted. I am all up for spirit lifting in whatever way we can bring that about. A funny face, a sweet intent, being silly, exposing our vulnerabilities, kindness.
#34 – “I’ve Got My Eye On You”
Materials: Old glass eyes for teddy bears (lots of them) inside of cycle helmet, goggles
At school we studied in depth George Orwell’s 1984 . He was a popular talking point in that era of the early 60’s. We had many debates and discussion about him and his work. Didn’t really fully understand it then, but of course such ideas became clearer over time.
#35 – “Love Sushi”
Materials: Old hat with pipe cleaners and hearts, Sushi soy sauce plastic fish, collected from 20 years ago
Years of saving the little soy sauce fishes one used to get with sushi has finally paid off – their day has come. If I was not so busy with the garden, I would have laboriously filled all the fishes with different coloured water, but necklace and earrings were enough. I mean I don’t want to get too obsessive with this hat malarkey. It could get dangerous.
#37 – “Don’t Mess with Mizz Lizzie”
Materials: Old hat with cats found in charity shop
I’ll be darned if it ain’t Mizz Lizzie down from the ranch. What’s she doin’ back in town? Oh I had fun with Mizz Lizzie, she created no end of cowgirl fun for me. I had numerous Mizz Lizzie types from the wild west but this was the one that stood out.
#40 – “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”
Materials: Collected bark from different trees, fungi, lichen, metal plant container for base
40 days of hat making has got me thinking! It has to be said that I am a rebel. Probably my difficult upbringing encouraged my rebellious behaviour or maybe I needed that dysfunctional upbringing to allow it to emerge, whatever the case there is a strong streak of rebel in me.
On the Heyoka ‘Sacred Clown’ Archetype…
“The heyókȟa symbolizes and portrays many aspects of the sacred beings, the Wakíŋyaŋ. His satire presents important questions by fooling around. They ask difficult questions, and say things others are too afraid to say. Their behavior poses questions as do Zen koans. By reading between the lines, the audience is able to think about things not usually thought about, or to look at things in a different way.
Principally, the heyókȟa functions both as a mirror and a teacher, using extreme behaviors to mirror others, and forcing them to examine their own doubts, fears, hatreds, and weaknesses. Heyókȟa have the power to heal emotional pain; such power comes from the experience of shame—they sing of shameful events in their lives, beg for food, and live as clowns. They provoke laughter in distressing situations of despair, and provoke fear and chaos when people feel complacent and overly secure, to keep them from taking themselves too seriously or believing they are more powerful than they are.
In addition, sacred clowns serve an important role in shaping tribal codes. Unbound by societal constraints, heyókȟa are able to violate cultural taboos freely and thus critique established customs. Paradoxically, however, by violating these norms and taboos, they help to define the accepted boundaries, rules, and societal guidelines for ethical and moral behavior. They are the only ones who can ask “Why?” about sensitive topics; they use satire to question the specialists and carriers of sacred knowledge or those in positions of power and authority.”
~ Wikipedia contributors. “Heyoka.” Wikipedia, 10 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heyoka.
#41 – “Singing for the Chickens In Captivity”
Materials: Polystyrene chicken, wooden candle holder from Sweden decorated by me, old lace mats and tablecloth
My chicken kept winking at me when I passed it. Then I remembered the chicken candleholder. Making the chicken stay on my head required good engineering. But why was a chicken on my head, and what’s with the candle? Then the thought about chickens in captivity came. As a member of #compassioninworldfarming I am aware of the suffering farm animals undergo worldwide, and decided to use this hat in a funny way to bring this to your attention . Singing for the chickens in captivity is really singing for all captive animals everywhere. They need our love and kind thoughts.
#42 – “The Magic TV2 Hat”
Materials: Collected bark from different trees, fungi, lichen, metal plant container for base, basket for base, pinecones, nuts and other natural found objects, wooden mushrooms, pinecone coasters from charity shop
When the tv guys came to interview me they asked if I could make a hat. Panic. I quickly grabbed some stuff together and began to create one, not really knowing what I was doing. My theme was pinecones as I had a lot of them and there just so happened to be an old basket laying around waiting to be used when an idea came to mind. Being creative is a blessing but it also means ones studio is often in a state of chaotic mess.
#44 – “Bird Woman”
Materials: Feathers, some cut up leather
Honoring the birds is a hat drawing your attention through personal experience to the amount of birds killed on the main route from the Port of Dover to distribution centers all over the UK. All the feathers and skins you see here I have collected, sometimes at great risk, from the birds killed on this motorway. In doing what I do with them, their lives are honored, and their beauty is restored. It is a true art of transformation.
#45 – “A Soft Touch”
Materials: Salvaged Rubber gloves (exact amount for hat), old Chinese coolie hat, fan , kimono, small virus decoration
The 20-year-old rubber gloves were being thrown out, it felt like sacrilege. I grabbed them out the bin and at the same time I saw the old Chinese coolie hat hanging in the winter garden. I saw the hats design and accompanying costume in an instant and the name fell into my head. A soft Touch. When this happens, I get very excited, and I know I am on to a good one. I particularly like this hat and all the nuances that go with its title and visual effect.
#47 – “Whose Pulling My Strings?”
Materials: Old basket, cardboard collar and nose, artist drawing hand
Look whose been lying again, or whose pulling my strings. The lies seemed to be increasing, politicians were being called out for dishonesty, misinformation was reaching new heights and the question kept rising ‘who exactly was pulling the strings’.
#48 – “The Problem With Plastic”
Materials: Recycled plastic bits and pieces
The problem with Plastic, particularly single use plastic disturbs me. Throwing it away doesn’t feel right, even though its supposedly recycled. I have periods where I obsessively keep my plastic food containers, saving them for a time when I can use them creatively, and thus ease my plastic consumerism guilt.
#49 – “The Second Wave”
Materials: Chicken wire, tissue paper, figurines
As soon as I heard the phrase ‘second wave’ being used frequently over the media I began to plan a hat with this name. The Second Wave. Some of these hats take time coming from the initial idea to fruition and this was one of them, but it was always in the back of my mind, and now it is on my head! What was the second wave?
#50 – “Freedom For Humanity”
Materials: Hands of Buzz Lightyear, cut roses, found objects, human figurine, string of wooden hearts,
mustard seeds sprouted, moss, angel charms, butterfly ornament
Out of all 50 hats this is the only one I was asked to make and given a title for. This led to a longer incubation period. It seemed fitting that this one should mark a completion of my journey through the pandemic. It was a tricky one to engineer, I knew what I wanted but putting it together proved to be a marathon of a job. I also wanted it to be living so I had to wait for the mustard seed to grow.
It is a hat full of symbols. The first part of the hat that came into being was the hands of Buzz Lightyear (of ‘to infinity and beyond fame’), breaking the chains that bind humanity. Throughout the whole of hat- making the roses are the only thing I have purchased new, I wanted something living and symbolically alive. The whole idea is about cosmic consciousness and reaching out to the spiritual world, being watched over by higher light beings represented by the nine angels attached to the brim of the hat. Love will pave the way for our freedom to shine forth.
Lizz Daniels – A Transformational Artist living in Norway
I have always been passionately creative about recycling and transformation, but my artist career really took off after the death of my daughter in 1996, when my whole life changed, and art became my salvation. Theatre and the art of sacred clowning have also found their way into my life and I particularly identify with the North American Plains Indian Heyokha archetype. On the tail of rising feminism and influenced by my American sisters, I trained in 1982 as an Assertive Facilitator and worked in the fields of effective communication, anger management and sexuality for women. Women and self-development have since that time been a large part of my life,
At 56 I went to art college for 2 years and had the time of my life. After moving to Norway in 2011, my art took on a whole new perspective with several successful exhibitions. Online art courses led me to connect with some fantastic and well-known women artists. Michal Shimoni, Nancy Reynar, Flora Aube, who I trained with as an Art of Allowing Facilitator and Shiloh Sophia who initiated me as a Red Thread Guide and brought consciously into my life the great work of Intentional Creativity. Without knowing it, I had been unintentionally working in this way dealing with the death of my daughter and I was so excited to discover that a whole movement devoted to growth and healing through art existed. I love art and I love working with women.
Sticky Back Plastic
My first real intentional creativity art experience came into being after the death of my daughter. I called it Sticky Back Plastic. The pictures had names like Updating my software, Reprogramming, Reboot, Updating the system, Time for change, New Hardware in the Process, Surfing the Waves, Mind Surf, Entering Other Realms. This was way back in 1997 when I knew next to nothing about quantum mechanics and the like.
It was real transformational work on many levels leading me into art as therapy. It’s a hand-heart-head connection as demonstrated by Shiloh Sophia with Intentional Creativity. Doing this mindless sticking really helped me work through and understand my grief, and move through it. It did, on a certain level – transform my life. The material itself was going to go into a landfill so there was some kind of recycling and reinventing that took place. It is not something lovely and organic but polluting plastic, this is Heyokha stuff! I was transforming it into something other than what it was originally intended for. Creating with love. Its a great material to use for all age groups and I have done many workshops at festivals, in prisons, with old people, school kids of all ages , children with learning disabilities – it always goes down really well!
You can learn more about my Sticky Back Plastic here on my website.
Spoken Word Poetry
Message from Curator, Shiloh Sophia
Special thanks to:
The Intentional Creativity Foundation for funding this exhibit!
Amber Gould, Curatorial Director – Exhibit Site Design, Artist Liaison
Maia Lemann, Co-Curator – Virtual Show Production and Design
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