The Persian rug, reimagined

The Persian rug, reimagined


Debbie Lawson’s sculptures – from Persian carpets inhabited by natural forms, to a set of chairs that perform the can-can – reappropriate everyday objects in playful, dreamlike ways

18th September 2014
By Kitty Knowles
Portrait by Alex Maguire

Professional life

After graduating with an English Literature degree from the University of East Anglia in 1988, Lawson initially worked at Reuters, Channel 4 and BBC Magazines. She then became a freelance journalist and got a job as a sub-editor at the Observer, where she still works part-time. “I just thought everyone was as obsessed with drawing and painting as me, and that it was too much fun to ever be an actual job,” she explains.

Into the art world

Just a few years into her career Lawson decided to apply for a foundation course. “Before long I had swapped sitting behind a desk for honing wet clay into shapes and I realised then that there was no way I could go back,” she recalls. Lawson then went on to complete a degree at Central Saint Martins and an MA at the Royal College of Art. She continues to live in London and now works at a studio in Hackney.

Re-evaluating everyday objects

Among her works, Lawson has created the accurately named Spaghetti Mop, she has adapted a set of chairs to perform the can-can (Dancing Queen), and she has hidden lovers in the grain of wooden furniture (Golden Brown). Artists have to reinvent and re-evaluate everyday objects, says Lawson, “because reality can be so boring otherwise”.

The Persian rug, reimagined

Many of Lawson’s pieces depict natural forms emerging from large, thick decorative carpets; a giant bear looms out of one, while lowers and foliage burst out of another. “Persian carpets are really rich in texture, colour and pattern,” says Lawson, “my mind wanders a lot, and I spot things where they aren't supposed to be. Of course it's all in my imagination, but I like to play on this when I'm making my work.”

Seagulls and the Sun by Debbie Lawson
Seagulls and the Sun
Copyright Debbie Lawson
Persian Gull
Persian Gull
Copyright Debbie Lawson
Paradise Island sculpture by Debbie Lawson
Paradise Island, The Silvie Fleming Collection
Copyright Debbie Lawson


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