Menu Close

Empowering Women Through Art

After running a successful recruitment firm for many years, Leicestershire’s Lis Naylor decided it was time to quit the ‘rat race’ and take on a bold and colourful new challenge…

She now works as an inspiring conceptual artist, whose mission is to empower vulnerable women – and to be nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize within the next ten years…

Picture: Lis Naylor

In 2010 Lis Naylor was forced to sit back and reevaluate her life – one which had been graced with a great deal of professional success.

She had spent 35-years running her own business in the computer and video games industry, and several years managing a successful recruitment firm.

However, following a horse riding accident, she suffered a severe back injury and found herself unable to continue with the demands of her role.

With time and space to reflect, and think about what else she wanted to achieve in life, Lis decided to follow a bold and colourful new path – one which had been calling out to her for a long time…

At the age of 53, She signed up for a Fine Art degree at De Montfort University, and went on to excel creatively – securing numerous prizes, including second place in the 2018 Leicester Society of Artists (LSA) Student Awards.

Now in her early 60s, Lis is using her artistic skills to empower vulnerable women in Leicester – those who’ve survived abuse and struggle against poverty and poor self image.

It’s a major theme in her work, and one which is inspired by her own personal experience.

“In the past I was badly beaten up by a boyfriend, and in my first marriage, I found myself in a very coercive relationship.

“I made the decision to leave him and my art released me – it released the hold this person had on me,” she explained.

“I ended up laughing my head off and realising what a pathetic character he was. For me, art was very cathartic – I used creativity as a route to healing.

“My view is that if I can do that through art – through expressing it, then maybe other women can do it too.”

Last year, Lis was involved in a project with the Zinthia Trust, which saw her work with BAME women from the city who have also survived abuse.

The project saw her paint the women as their spirit animals – together with a message to their perpetrators.

Picture: Lis Naylor

Beside each painting is a piece written by each of the women, explaining their choice of animal.

“So often the stories we hear about survivors of abuse are ones of tragedy. Whilst these women have experienced incredible difficulties, these artworks aim to show their strength, individuality and power,” Lis told Pukaar.

“I believe art speaks louder than words. It gives a voice to the voiceless. Power to the powerless.”

Every woman’s voice deserves to be heard. They have stories to tell and strides to make. I’m just here to amplify them.

Picture: Lis Naylor

Lis says that her aim within the next ten years is to be nominated for the Turner Prize for her inspiring conceptual work.

She is also keen to use her art to reflect the joys and passions of her life currently. Horses, dance and the natural world are just a few of the subjects she enjoys painting.

However, portraiture is a pursuit which she is really enjoying right now.

“I’ve developed a unique style of portraiture in which the failure is the success of the piece; painting in concentric circles, working with and over mistakes to build depth in each image,” she revealed.

“This ethos of always moving forward, of recalibrating and pushing beyond is the thread that ties my work together, mirroring my life experience, personality and artistic journey.

“I’ve got a very busy head – I’m constantly thinking about a million-and-one different things, but when I sit in front of a painting, I get completely lost in it,” she added.

“In that way, it’s great therapy. I believe I have now found my calling. Art and painting is a passion that you just cannot walk away from and I’m determined to turn it into a success.”

To find out more about Lis’s work, visit:

RAF Advertisement