David Faulk and The Little Lulu Series.
A lot of people ask me why I use Lulu in my paintings. As a gay man it might seem an odd choice to use a little cartoon girl as a protagonist over and over in a body of work, but it has never felt like that much of a stretch to me. I wanted a sympathetic, open symbol that would coax viewers into looking at the problems in a troubled world (often my troubled world) and I was drawn to Lulu because she faced plenty of adversity in her own history.
Her struggles to be taken seriously and treated fairly in a pre-feminist time, and her unwillingness to give up in her pursuit of equality spoke instantly to me as an artist, a fairly weird and queer artist at that. Feminism, civil rights, gay rights, autonomy and equal rights are all ways of identifying the same kind of struggle, one that needs to be noticed by a larger group that isn’t really interested or doesn’t want to pay attention. That Lulu always sought this effect as a consequence of her character, and that she was a child no less, makes her a powerful and inspiring force to be dealt with.
I use cartoon characters of my own design as well, but Lulu asserts herself into my thinking and image making spontaneously, naturally, mysteriously and effortlessly… qualities that I’ve always been drawn to in the work of others, and that I strive to imbue my own work with.
On a side note I would add that the physical design of the character is brilliant, a collection of simple but odd shapes with a flexibility in expression which reveals the amazing power hidden (and often trivialized) in cartoon language.
And there is another sense of my interest in Lulu expressed in a second body of work I am involved in the collaboration with my partner Michael JOHNSTONE (see his gallery here at Q.A.R.) on our photographic series, titled MRS. VERA’S DAYBOOK, an ongoing exploration of notions of normality and marginalization through queer filters of loss, humor, resourcefulness, and the pressure to conform. Unapologetic independence runs throughout this series much as it underpinned Lulu’s own adventures. I hope she will remain my surrogate, role model and source of inspiration for as long as she cares to.