This summer during lockdown, new hobbies have emerged, old ways may have reared their ugly heads and for some, new businesses and projects will have flourished. For south east London based artist Michael Ludlam, lockdown meant more time on his hands to dust off the ol’paintbrushes and get painting again. Claire Foster
Tell us about what you do.
Hey everyone, I’m Michael Ludlam, I’m an artist and animator born and raised in south London. I’m currently making geometric inspired, architectural paintings that showcase my favourite buildings in my favourite places. I single out all the buildings I like in an area and mash them all into one surrealist floating structure. I’ve been living in Crystal Palace for three years and have been absolutely in love with the place from the start.
How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always been the arty type and I’ve always loved architecture. Not being an architect myself, I’ve had to think of ways of showing my appreciation. In my day job I actually make animations that get projected on to buildings. This combines my two artistic interests, and informs the paintings I make.
Who or what inspires you?
Initially, what inspired my style and my original geometric street scenes is a fantastic early 20th century Cubist artist called Lyonel Feininger. Cubism was so ahead of its time and I’m definitely seeing it as coming back into fashion, or at least I hope it is for the sake of my style.
I first tackled the Cubist approach when I created a painting of the beautiful Lucerne in Switzerland where I lived in my early 20s, which went down really well.
The other person that inspires me is my wife Ali. An artist in her own right as well, Ali and her design brand ‘The Shape Studio’ has influenced my work to be more refined, geometric, sharper and cleaner. Having an appreciation for more graphical design has helped me hone my style.
What is your most memorable piece of work either by you or another artist?
My favourite painting, which inspired me to become an artist and an animator all in one, because of its true sense of movement is Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending Staircase No 2 (1912). As I’ve said, animation is my other passion. This piece is basically a frame by frame animation, I just don’t think the artist knew it at the time.
Is there are seminal moment in your life that has made a profound impact on you and your work?
For my south east London paintings, yes. It was the lockdown. I think everyone found themselves with this extra time in their lives to reflect on what they enjoyed doing before they were working crazy London hours. As I’m the type to keep myself busy, finding myself with these extra hours at home encouraged me to get back to my roots in getting the paintbrushes out again.
Are you planning any shows post lockdown?
Ha, no, not during this time, but hey, let’s see what happens as I build up my collection of painted places.
What are your future plans?
I think I’ve found my niche in these styles of painting, they’ve gone down really well with the Brixton and Crystal Palace communities, as South Londoners are clearly the most proud of their zones. I’ve got a Dulwich painting on the go in a similar style that I’m so far happy with (watch this space), and then, who knows? Greenwich, Blackheath, New Cross and Nunhead are all on the cards.
What are your favourite #SELondon spots?
There’s a little wooden bench on a grassy knoll between two trees near the bottom of Westow Park, near the Crystal Palace triangle that just catches that last bit of sunset perfectly. It was a great spot in the evening to take a moment to myself. For a walk it’s got to be the very leafy Dulwich Village. For a night out, the best all rounder crowd-pleaser is Mercato Metroplitano in Elephant & Castle, it’s massive.
For fun, who would your ideal fantasy dinner guest be?
I would want to invite to dinner the one person in the world that has done the highest number of different unique things out of everyone else. I mean like, they’ve been to every country, tasted every food, met everyone that is anyone. Then I would ask that person the top 10 highlights of their lives, and what things to definitely avoid. Surely they would be the best dinner guest ever!
My Brixton and Crystal Palace Prints are for sale on Etsy; £25 for A4 £33 for A3 at: