Daniel Lismore - Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken

Living Sculpture celebrated in home town exhibition, Coventry City of Culture

I'm grateful to be alive at a time when when Artists like Daniel Lismore exist and I get to visit their exhitions. For there are some exhibitions I know I will never forget and Daniel Lismore's Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken is one of them. Not that I should be referring to Daniel in a catergory with other artists: he is one of a kind and hallelujah for that. 

Daniel's solo show is an exploration of personal identity, image, style and individuality comprising outfits handmade and worn by Daniel. The exhibition is a timeline of his artistry and while looking around I couldn't help but ponder how they can possibly be worn with so much weight and detail on them yet this doesn't restrict his design process. Wearability is a minor aspect; overall impact is the key. 

Each of his pieces is a specially curated sculpture, made from thousands of treasures, artefacts, travel memorabilia and upcycled items. Techniques are vast and feature hand-embellising, digital print, 3D work, stitching, painting, jellellery design, surface decoration and materials that include chains, crystals, children's toys, gig tickets and endless memorabilia found during Daniel's own adventures and travels. Some of which take years to come together.

The starting point of the exhibition which is showing at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry is a room filled with curiosities, collectables, photos, sculptures, artworks, press coverage and books that feature Daniel, and if you look closely you'll also spot my book Hello Rainbow Finding Happiness in Colour which Daniel features in. Before you explore the prolific exhibition take a seat here and watch Daniel's brilliant, Ted Talk where he explains his journey to becoming a Living Sculpture. Much of his words had me nodding in agreement, his observations about living as your true authentic self, free from expectations resonated with me on many levels.

I'd seen images of the exhibition online before visiting it but nothing did it justice. The scale of the show is huge. Daniel's ornate outfits fill several rooms and the chance to walk around them, getting up close to appreciate the details is mindblowing. To think that these are all ideas and visions of one person is incredible. Daniel mentions in his Ted Talk that he often plans outfit and come up with his concepts while he is lucid dreaming and this may explain the imagination that goes into them; they all have an ethereal quality, almost as if they were created on another planet.

Daniel's work has a disctinct aesthetic comprising colours, textures and shape fusing haute couture, fashion, costume and global influences. No piece is alike; on one extreme there are capivating, intricately coloured gowns contrasted with black and white monochrome masterpieces. 

There's also a gallery which features his political focussed work, much of which is about climate change, using sustainable materials aswell as projects he's worked on with Greenpeace. Daniel also campaigns for LGBTQIA+ rights and equality but his work is never based on specific themes, they come together organically while  being strikingly different to eachother and are guaranteed to make you smile in awe. 

Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken is on at the Herbert as part of Coventry's City of Culture, free until 26 June 2022.