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The voice of Lorna Goldfinch


It was about a year ago when I saw some of Lorna Goldfinch’s drawings in a zine and immediately got sucked into the worlds she creates. I was imagening myself as a comic character, cruising around in those parks. But in the daily overload of information I somehow forgot about them again, until our friend Peter Johansson (you might remember this video of him) recently sent us a video he did about Lorna. It turned out that not only Lorna’s drawings are rad, but she’s a rad person as well and this time it stuck in my mind. It’s inspiring how she pursues life and what new layers she ads to the DIY spots she draws. It was clear we had to present her work to you, so you know as well – and hopefully don’t forget.

First of all, can you please give a short introduction about yourself?

I was born in Blackpool, UK and skated in that scene in the mid nineties. I took a hiatus from skateboarding when I was studying painting at University. I have an honours degree in Scientific and Natural History Illustration, and had signed up to be an expedition artist on a trip to the jungles of Sulawesi in Indonesia that then got cancelled. I suppose, therefore, I have always had something of an explorer/documentor streak. I worked as an illustrator for a long time, and a photographic retoucher for film, tv and advertising (which I still do part time as it is a job I can do from anywhere in the world). I played roller derby for nearly ten years, culminating in playing for England in two world cups, but my time playing contact sport was over when I suffered too many concussions. When that ended I somehow found my way back onto a skateboard, I think I was 34 or 35 (I’m now 40). It was humbling to go from the top of one sport to the very bottom of another, but I think it’s healthy to be a beginner at things, especially as an adult. It gives you opportunities to let go of ego and expectation and to quiet the bit of your mind that tells you you look like an idiot. I got hooked on skateboarding again pretty quickly.

What especially got you hooked on DIY spots? What’s their beauty?

Creativity needs challenge- all DIY spots are different, they’re tough to skate and so the sense of achievement is bigger. It’s also rare that you can rock up and just do your ‘go to’ tricks, they present brand new opportunities if you are going to have a good session. Plus they say something of the taste of those that built them so there is an element of connecting to the creators.

In the video you say you get worried that sometimes people think you’re in cloud cuckoo land all the time. First of all, I’m not sure if it would be a bad thing to be a full time resident in cloud cuckoo land but why you think people would think that?

I feel like there are a couple of ways of living that can appear from the outside like they are the same but from the inside are very different. One is a life of fantasy, of daydreams and imagination – there’s nothing wrong with this of course – but the other is of finding joy in reality, in the way things actually are. The former is kind of an absence or regression from life, but the latter is a presence within it. The difference to me would be like playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and landing the most insane combos, compared with pushing a real skateboard around and doing a little fifty fifty grind on some coping. I’d infinitely rather do something real.

"I feel like there are a couple of ways of living that can appear from the outside like they are the same but from the inside are very different."

Isn’t it hard to sit next to a DIY spot and draw it instead of skating it? Or do you draw them later on off of photos you took? How’s your work process?

I can’t draw and skate at the same session very easily. When I start skating I don’t want to stop, I’m a high energy person and can happily skate three hours without sitting down. When I paint I pretty much don’t move my body for however long it takes (between one and two hours for sketchbook paintings) and when I finally come out of my flow state and back into the world my body is stiff and sore from holding one position for so long. So usually I know before I set off whether I am going out to paint or going out to skate. I almost exclusively paint alone, whereas these days I prefer to skate with friends. I had one skate trip with my friends to Barcelona where I pulled something in my knee on the second day, so I got my sketchbook out and documented the entire trip in paintings instead of clips.

Do you sometimes draw DIY spots and get new ideas for tricks as compared to when you just visit them with a skateboard?

No not really, as I am not lost in my imagination when I am painting. I’m literally just caught in the space of translating what I see into colour on paper. Everything very quickly turns into colour and shape. However, the quest to find them does get me out of the house and to new places. I have so many scraps of paper with overheard stories of spots to go and find. Often it is only after I’ve painted a place that I will go back and skate it though.

Lorna fs 5 0 pig

Frontside 5-0

Lorna fs smith

Frontside Smith Grind

Do you especially travel to draw spots?

Yes for sure. It’s my favourite way to travel but it would be a waste to do it with a hit list and blinkers on. I tend to take the longest route to get anywhere with wide open eyes, always on the look out for new things along the way.

What’s your favorite DIY to skate and what’s your favorite one to draw?

My favourite DIY to draw is probably Pig Barrier in Malmö because I helped to build it so it has a huge emotional attachment for me. However I also love to paint spots just before they are destroyed. The nature of concrete is that it gives the impression of solidity and permanence but it is just transforming at a different timescale to what we’re used to perceiving. When you sit in a space for a few hours you really get to know every crack, every weed pushing through the edges. You’ve looked and observed it all, converted it all to blobs of paint. The next time you go to that same spot you really notice the differences, you really notice the transient nature of things.

Why you don’t draw people in the spots?

For me, painting isn’t the right medium for drawing people. It’s too slow. If I want to document people I will do it with photos or video. I also find that when people are in a space they take all the attention, I guess that’s how we are programmed. But when a place is absent of people it feels completely different. It’s more peaceful but it also allows for a different dialogue to be heard, and that is between you and the spaces themselves.

Do you have some other projects in your mind already that you want to do next?

I think I will be on the Skatespots one for a while yet, there are still too many stories to tell.