Lawrence Taylor has been the resident Speed Ratings expert on attheraces.com since the site's launch in 2001, but what many of his thousands of followers might not know is that, over the past ten years, Lawrence has also worked as a Pop Artist out of his Stored Images Studios in Wolverhampton.
“When I left school in ’76 I was interested in art and racing, and now, forty-odd years later, they are still my two greatest passions. That one complements the other is a bonus, as it means I’m always switched on and ready for the next moment of insight, be it trying to find a winner for the ATR column, or coming up with the next big art idea."
"I work in the shadow of Molineux Stadium, which probably isn’t the best of locations for an Albion supporter, but the studios are knockout and have a really good vibe.”
Walking into Lawrence’s studios I’m met with a large collection of Gambling Pop Art hanging on the walls, a large workbench, large sofa, a dartboard and pool table.
“My girlfriend says it’s my man-cave, and it’s hard not to agree, although I do tell her that dart and pool playing helps to facilitate thinking and gets the creative juices flowing! On attheraces.com I'm Lawrence, but here I'm Loz, as that’s how I’m known by all my friends and in the art world”.
Loz laughs, clearly not taking himself too seriously. “You’d get lynched around here if you came over all arty. Everyone is very grounded on this (arts) site, there’s a bunch of other artists here too and we are all just interested in getting good work done.”
I point to a large painting of what looks like five blue dice on a gold background. “That work is titled ‘Artists Are Gamblers’, it’s based on Yves Klein’s Blue Painted Women circa 1960s. It’s important to know your art history – saves you from going over old ground and also enables you to build on what has gone before.”
Loz tells me he has been at this current location for just over four years, having previously spent six years at Makers Dozen Studios in the centre of town, right next to Wolverhampton Art Gallery – world famous for its Pop art collection. “I enjoyed it there and learned a good deal about my craft. I’m a self-taught artist, so it was a matter of finding out what worked and what didn’t. I could look out of my studio window and see the Pop art room at Wolves Gallery. Inside would be works by famous Pop artists, including Andy Warhol, who has had a major influence on my artistic development.”
And all this time you were working for At The Races as a speed analyst? “Yes, the nature of my work for ATR means that I can do a few hours in the morning from my home office, come to the studio between 10am and 2.30pm, and then return home to write the ATR Speed Page. The art and racing feed off each other, I don’t consider either to be work, it’s just a part of who I am and what I do on a daily basis.”
Back at the NAC (Newhampton Arts Centre) Loz takes me up a flight of wooden stairs and into the second studio or ‘technical area’, where I can see computers, printers, scanners and a stencil cutting machine. “Each idea I have for a work has its own way of coming into being, so these are pretty essential tools of the job. I usually sketch out ideas in Photoshop, working up a design and trying out different colour combinations until I think I have something worth pursuing. I’m an aesthete – it has got to look good.”
I pick up a screenprint with a greyhound on it and the words ‘Trophy Hunter’. “That piece is actually a protest against human trophy hunters. I’ve turned things around and made the greyhound the trophy hunter. Given it the power. There’s usually an idea behind each of the works I create, and unlike tipping a loser on my ATR column, if an art idea doesn’t pan out then I can always bin it before it reaches the public.”
I sit on a small sofa in the corner of the upstairs studio, while Loz takes a seat opposite. I ask him where he is going with all of this. “I’d like to be as successful with my art as I have been with my race analysis and writing. I’ve sold work through a London gallery and had shows around the UK, and I’m still on a strong upward curve with my studio practice, so I believe there is bigger and better to come. Like all artists and gamblers, I’m forever optimistic!"
LONDON SHOW: You can meet Loz and see his work at the New Artist Fair, Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, on the weekend of 14-15 September. Doors open: 12pm – 6.30pm. Entry is free.