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“Daniel’s looks are fearless mashups of haute couture, salvage, religious paraphernalia, and club culture. He is one of the few originals of his generation.”

Edward Enninful OBE, Editor British Vogue
Imagery from Daniel Lismores book Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken. Photo Colin Douglas Gray.

Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum are delighted to present “Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” by the Coventry born artist, designer and activist Daniel Lismore. This exhibition in his hometown is the first time that his work has gone on display in the UK.

“We are incredibly excited to announce that we will be hosting the UK premiere of Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. It is fitting for our last major exhibition within the UK City of Culture 2021 programme to be a homecoming and celebration of the work of the Coventry raised, internationally acclaimed artist – Daniel Lismore.”

Francis Nielsen, Cultural & Creative Director of The Herbert Art Gallery& Museum, Coventry
Imagery from Daniel Lismores book Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken. Photo Colin Douglas Gray.

The exhibition features a major installation ‘An Army of My Life’, which takes inspiration from the Terracotta Army, and features 50 3D sculptures, each of which are modelled on the artist and including a cast of his face, manifestations of Lismore’s life living as sculpture.

The life-size (6’4”) sculptures are fashioned in Lismore’s elaborate and extravagant ensembles, expressions of body adornment and conceptual thinking. They combine haute couture with items from his personal collection of nearly 7,000 unique curiosities, including charity-shop finds, yards of vintage fabrics and found objects.

The exhibition will examine social, historical and cultural themes central to Lismore’s work and life living as sculpture. He has been a noted advocate of sustainable fashion, which sits at the heart of his artistic practice, a design philosophy that espouses creative re-use, upcycling of materials and reduction of impact on the environment. His relationships with creative communities around the world also inform his work and activism.

Lismore has been called ‘England’s most eccentric dresser’ by Vogue, exhibited around the world, and has designed costumes for the English National Opera. He was Creative Director of luxury label Sorapol where he dressed Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, Adam Ant and Boy George amongst others. Many of the pieces designed for his celebrity clientele will be on display in Coventry.

Imagery from Daniel Lismores book Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken. Photo Colin Douglas Gray.

“Daniel Lismore is made in Cov, a true home-grown icon, whose distinctive style and artistic creations have been celebrated around the world in galleries, on stage, in tv/film and through fashion houses. His work is beautiful, provocative and individual, and speaks to his activism, promoting human rights especially for LGBTQIA+ citizens and as a climate crisis campaigner. We are thrilled to support this exhibition and associated activities through Spring 2022.”

Chenine Bhathena Creative Director, Coventry City of Culture Trust

A specially made publication for the UK premiere of the exhibition, and Coventry UK City of Culture, will explore, excavate and celebrate Daniel’s unique journey from being raised in Coventry through to international fame. This will feature previously unseen private archive & materials including photos, found objects, ephemera, artworks & sketchbooks, personal materials documenting his journey from schooldays through adolescence – a tapestry of his journey from childhood to his true self living as sculpture.

“Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” was first presented in 2016, co-curated by Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) Atlanta USA and exhibited at SCAD FASH: Museum of Fashion and Film. Since its original presentation, the exhibition has been presented in Basel Miami 2016, Iceland 2018, Naples 2019 and Poland in November 2019. For this homecoming exhibition, many of the work will be enhanced and expanded, with previously unseen works on display.

Imagery from Daniel Lismores book Be Yourself Everyone Else is Already Taken. Photo Colin Douglas Gray.

“Since February 2002 I’ve been on an emotional journey as a living sculpture. The forthcoming exhibition is my first UK solo show & premiere, it also marks my 20th year as a living sculpture. February 2022 is the 20th anniversary of my leaving Coventry to work internationally on my art projects. I’m returning with my entire archive and am so excited to bring it to my hometown. 

I’m very honoured and privileged to be invited to exhibit here and collaborate in the celebrations planned for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 particularly at the Herbert which has a strong emotional connection to my youth; growing up it was the first art gallery I had heard of and visited. This show is for the city and all of the people in it. Coventry is in the foundations of my work. 

I know the work is based on many of the images I have portrayed over the years but it’s really not about me. My art has always been for others. If it only inspires one person to be them true selves I have done my job as an artist. That’s what I hope for others struggling to be themselves.’’

Daniel Lismore

Daniel Lismore “Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” 18th Feb – 26th June 2022 Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

About the artist

Daniel Lismore is a London and Coventry based artist; A Living Sculpture who creates elaborate, extravagant, three-dimensional tableaux of figurative sculptures crafted like tapestries; Each artwork is created from fragments of items previously worn by the artist, meshing history and futurism whilst reflecting the world in which he exists. Lismore has been a prominent fixture on the London Fashion and Art circuits and an activist for Human Rights and the environment for 20 years. His evolution as a living sculpture was fuelled by a childhood growing up in his father’s antique auction house where historic regalia; priceless exquisitely, hand-made treasures, artworks, taxidermy, weaponry and suits-of-armour were assembled alongside collectible Star War figures and Star Trek memorabilia. Although he started his career as an artist from the perspective of the outsider, working as a photographer within a year he had moved in front of the lens as a model, later emerging as a creative consultant for Mert & Marcus, Steven Klein, Martin Parr, David LaChapelle and Ellen von Unwerth. Lismore has been named by Vogue as ‘England’s Most Eccentric Dresser’. In 2017 he was selected in the top hundred of the Out 100 List. In 2018 and 2020 he was named in the top hundred, Guardian’s Pride Power List. In 2016, Daniel Lismore became the Circuit Ambassador for the Tate Museums. It was here that Lismore hosted his first two exhibitions in Tate Modern 2012 and Tate Britain 2013 featuring self portraits.

Daniel Lismore’s first book, ‘Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken,’ published by Rizzoli in 2016, documented the 32 figurative sculptures of Lismore which comprised his first USA museum exhibition. The exhibition was co-curated by Savannah College of Art and Design and was later displayed at Miami Art Basel.

In May 2017 Lismore exhibited at the Venice Biennale. In June 2018, Lismore curated a month long show of his work at Harpa Hall in Iceland as the highlight of the Reykjavik Arts Festival. The exhibition subsequently toured Europe, opening at the Pan Museum in Naples and Stary Brower Gallery in Pozna?, Poland. The exhibition was attended by over 100,000 visitors. Since 2018 Lismore been a Global Ambassador for Graduate Fashion Week, which reflects the 6 years he spent as creative director of  luxury women’s wear brand Sorapol, dressing Maria Cary, Cara Delevingne and Nicky Minaj. Lismore has long been an active campaigner for the recycling of clothes and in 2015 became the face of the H&M Close the Loop campaign to encourage the practice of recycling clothes.

Daniel Lismore is an ambassador of the climate change charity Cool Earth and has worked closely with Vivienne Westwood on her Climate Revolution projects. He has appeared in numerous Bulgari Campaigns and featured in TV shows,  including Sky Arts Portrait of The Year, Marina Abramovic Takes Over TV, Statues Redressed. In 2015  he made a cameo appearance in the movie Absolutely Fabulous. In April 2019 Lismore gave a TED Talk at the main TED conference in Vancouver, titled “My Life As A Work Of Art” in which he spoke about his life as a Living Sculpture. In September 2019, Lismore opened Naomi Campbell’s Fashion for Relief runway show at the British Museum revealing one of the first costumes he designed for the English National Opera (in collaboration with Swarovski) for Harrison Birtwistle’s iconic opera, The Mask of Orpheus which was staged at the London Coliseum. Since the Covid 19 pandemic, Lismore has been residing between Coventry and London working on LGBTQ+ activism and new art works. His show Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken is opening in February 2022 in Coventry City UK Capital of Culture at the Herbert Art Gallery And Museum.



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