You'll have heard of devoting your life to your art. Well, Lennie Lee's life is his art. Why stop at canvas when you can turn your entire house into a living, breathing piece of performance art? Lee's East London residence is hard to miss. The front door surround is acid green and the window frames are red, yellow, magenta and purple. Inside, the staircase is orange and the walls are shades of blue and pink, where they are not obscured by collages and paintings. Even the fridge is decorated with shards of glass and a small plastic alligator. The bright-blue kitchen ceiling sprouts Day-Glo cutlery, the picture rail is picked out in sweet wrappers, and the chairs are upholstered in fake fur.
Lee started his career making sculptures out of rubbish found in the streets. On his kitchen wall is a big picture of a woman's face made out of sprats, popcorn, seeds, buttons, chocolate bar wrappers, bits of asphalt and lino, all suspended in resin. For six months of the year, he paints. His large canvases are cut up and sold off by lottery because "I'm against making art valuable," he explains. "Something has to be done against the absurd way art is valued in our society."
For the rest of the year, he works with others - sculptors, painters, collage-makers - on installations and party backdrops, usually in abandoned buildings. "It's very good to work together, because it means that the ego is put down - art is all about generosity of spirit. It's only under capitalism that art has meant making commodities for the decoration of wealthy people's houses. I want to make art into something larger, something spiritual and social, that involves all media."
He also hosts themed parties at his home. "The last one we had, we decided we needed a stage in the garden. So we built one. And we painted the big downstairs room like an alien spaceship. We had six DJs and we had 80 people in fancy dress." His neighbours must love him. He smiles disarmingly: "I'd only play music outside till 11pm. I do go up to the limit, but I try not to go over it."
Lennie Lee can be contacted on 0171 241 1006Reuse content