When De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) alumna Lis Naylor sustained a back injury from a horse-riding accident eight years ago, she knew her life had changed forever.
Eight years on and after a successful 35-year career running her own business in the computer and video games industry, Lis has set up her own arts business and entered a sculpture she made at DMU for her degree show into a local competition.
Lis explained: “I had a serious back injury eight years ago from a horse-riding accident which left me in a wheelchair and changed my life. I went from being the main family provider to highly dependent on everyone.
“Three things happened to change my career. In 2008 the business fell off the edge of the cliff with the economic crisis, my back injury, and technology replaced the need for my company’s services.
"I worked as head hunter, interviewing people, but with the success of job boards it cut my part out of the recruitment process. It was time to move on.”
Lis went to see her friend graduate at the age of 72 and decided she wanted to study, having left school at 15 with few qualifications. “I spoke to my husband who said do it. I was good at art at a young age so I decided to look at a part time art course at DMU.”
Lis was so captivated by DMU that she decided to study full time on the Fine Art BA (Hons).
She said: “DMU had a really good reputation for arts, design and ceramic, it had the art college feel to it, it had fantastic facilities and promised the world.
“I was terrified of coming to university at first, being a mature student was a challenge with the young students.”
As part of her final year degree show, Lis made a sculpture which she entered into the Leicester Society of Artists (LSA) Student Award 2018 competition along with 80 students from all over Leicestershire.
She said: “I won second prize which was fantastic as it meant my work would be showcased in the LSA annual exhibition.
“From my degree show my work was selected by DMU Masters Film students to feature in a short film called the Nail That Sticks Out.
“Sculpture, painting and small figurative ceramics were chosen along with a commissioned 10ft x 8ft painting of a naked woman to be shown at Phoenix Cinema and Pinewood Studios in November for their premier.”
Tim Fowler one of the judging panel and a prominent Leicestershire artist, said about her work: “Your work is brilliant and different, we need more of it in Leicester. Leicester Attenborough Arts Centre will be displaying not one but two of Lis’s sculptures in November.”
Lis also entered a gestural figurative silk screen print of her life model in the Cank Street Gallery Summer Open Exhibition where artists are invited to compete for a space.
She said: “There were 500 applicants who sent work in and 5 prizes awarded, first, second and third and two Highly Commended, mine was one of these.
"The painting went up for sale and was sold in a matter of weeks. As a result the gallery have selected two further paintings for sale for which I am absolutely overjoyed.”
When asked what her fondest moment at DMU was, she said: “Being one of six students to be selected to go to Brevard County in Florida in February this year as part of a #DMUglobal trip.
“We were invited to exhibit at The Art of Sustainability Festival, a green celebration at Palm Bay City Hall.
“We made a large-scale public sculpture, a Carmadillo, indigenous to California made from used car tyres measuring 36ft x 15ft x 6ft.
"We were ambassadors for the university and enjoyed discussing our work with local school children and the public.
“I was selected as I was studying sculpture, I had hands on experience, passion, ambition, knew how to work as a team and understood project management.”
Lis also attended courses at the Business Innovation Centre for people who wanted to set up their own business.
She said: “They were absolutely brilliant. It offered so many opportunities to set up a business.
"I knew how to set up a business but didn’t know how technology and digital marketing affected business today, it had moved on and provided me with the confidence to talk about my digital marketing needs with new providers.
“DMU as a whole provides individuals with many opportunities to market their own business, it’s like a stepping stone and there is always further back up and support on hand.
"I had an issue with copyright and DMU’s in house team were able to advise saving me money.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without DMU, the teaching was very good and very constructive and they encouraged you to work in particular ways.”
Lis graduated this year and has now set up her arts business called @LisNaylorArt, which sells gestural figurative paintings and sculpture.
Posted on Wednesday 26th September 2018