Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lara Armitage and I am soon to be 35. I’m American but I live in Scotland with my husband, Andy, and our two children, Lucius (4) and Sylvie (2). I used to be an editor but now I breed pedigree Bengal and Ragdoll cats.
What's the origin of your artist name?
I was inspired at an early age by the story of Sadako Sasaki and her thousand paper cranes. We read the story in school and were taught how to make cranes at the same time. Both stuck with me.
What has been your biggest challenge with your art so far?
Ahhh. Um. Probably calling it ‘art’. I guess I’ve always considered myself more of a crafter than an artist – beading necklaces, altering clothing, making costumes & masks and & headpieces, writing (well, doodling) in journals, designing mixed tape covers (I’ve already admitted my age above so I guess this doesn’t date me), building paper crane mobiles, silk-screening, learning stained glass, learning to blow glass, building with sea glass + lots of other stuff.
Sorry… that doesn’t really answer the question. Well, maybe it sort of does, actually – I guess being a jack-of-all-trades rather than a focused, conscientious artist, who works diligently to finish beautiful, magical, perfect pieces. It’s easy to doodle something pleasing but much harder to transfer that thing to canvas and give it the colour, texture and life that makes it breathe. This may be why hitRECord appeals to me so much, although that makes me sounds like a lazy passenger. But you all make me want to try harder and that’s certainly a good thing.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
From an early age, my parents, my brothers, my grandmother and my friends. My dad has been an especially influential force in my life. He’s a pretty amazing individual. As I grew older, the circle of influence obviously widened. I could produce a giant list here for you but I’ll just share who it is right now: lately, I’ve been inspired (a lot) by Miranda July for her honesty and her heartbreakingly accurate art.
What is your wildest story?
Personally? Coming to Scotland when I was 18, sitting down on a bus next to Andy (the only seat that was free!) and then marrying him. It’s wild to me still that, 16 years on, I remain so confident and happy in that choice. I’ve been lucky in my life and in love.
Professionally, I’d have to say it was working in the costume shop on a large-scale community production of Carmen. (Think 400 locals to outfit and make up for a one-night-only, pull-out-all-the-punches, fire-breathing, opera-singing, all-dancing extravaganza, which was held in an abandoned bus depot in Wick, way way up in the north of Scotland.) It was grueling but tremendously fulfilling… and fun in a bizarre, sleep-deprived sort of way. I had never before nor have I since had the feeling of really living my ‘art’ in amongst a collective. It was exhilarating – indescribable, really - and I hope, once my children get a bit older, that I might be able to be involved in something similar again. For now, I’ll just continue to run the toddler crafting sessions in the local village hall every Thursday. And I’ll continue to hitRECord, naturally.
What is the last book you read?
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Patrick Suskind’s near-perfect novel Perfume. Imagine the sheer olfactory joy that simply walking down the street could bring!
What couldn’t you live without?
That’s a tricky one because I instantly want to say my family. But the reality is that I do live without them. Day to day, I live with the family I created, rather than the one that created me... when all I want is to live with both. Double-edged sword. And it hurts! But that’s just how life happens. So my parents are in Florida, my brother is in Houston and my other brother is in Boston, near to where I grew up. Technology has helped and we do our best shuttling back and forth.
What is your secret talent?
I wouldn’t say it’s secret so much as hidden. I am a critical thinker, which I’ve realised is not just a curse. It’s most definitely a talent, too. But one that’s fairly wasted on me, as it’s all just stuck up here in my head, out here in the cold, in the middle of these ancient hills. And it doesn’t escape me (indeed, it occurs to me on an almost daily basis) that my father came out of retirement to pay for my English Literature degree so that I could eventually (wait for it) work my way up… to becoming the star cat shit scooper of Carfrae.
Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
Ahhh. I used to have such great dreams. And I used to keep such good track of them as well but, alas, I can’t remember them so well anymore. If I had to wager a guess, it would’ve been that one where my friend had a gilded penis. There was more but, um, maybe we should get to know a bit more about each other before I elaborate.
What are you craving right now?
Wellness. At least one of us has been ill with something for the past five weeks.
What was the last song you fell in love with?
It’s a tie: Requiem by M Ward & The Captain and the Hourglass by Laura Marling
Can you hula hoop?
Yes but I need to concentrate really hard when I do so that’s not really any fun for anyone.
What do you like?
Lots! Lucius & Sylvie and their odd ways, Andy all the time but also a bit more when he is operating (I can tear open a text but god help me if I ever had to open up an animal and fix it while it was still authoring its own story), the countryside all around us, the local community, Boston city streets, Cohasset Harbour, Sandy Beach, the dam out in Wompatuck State Park, the daily heat lightning storms in Houston in the summer, Padre Island & feeling like the only people on earth, the way my parents’ house smells, memories of the beach hut in Madagascar and seeing the whales migrate through the channel, the smell of Scotch tape, chalk, beads, books, paper of all sorts, kick aerobics, long walks, long swims, cured meats, stinky cheeses, port, San Pellegrino, kiwi fruit, strawberries, pineapple, rye bread, sweet ‘n hot mustard and, above a lot of other things, gherkins of all shapes and sizes… even the kind of awful ones I make myself in summer.
What do you dislike?
People who don’t (or, even worse, won’t) own it. They fucking drive me nuts. I’m not a violent person but I’ve come my closest to harming those people.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Turn the volume down if you want people to really hear you. (NB At the time, I thought this was sage advice on a philosophical level and then I realised it was given simply because I am too loud… which I’ll own.)
How and why did you start RECording?
I saw an interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the New York Times Francesco Carrozzini series and he mentioned that he’d been hanging out with Russian clowns. Being a self-confessed devotee of Russian clowns myself *, I mentioned it to my friend Maz, with whom I discuss everything relevant, and she then sent me a link to this site. She’s been lurking, actually… Maz, if you are reading this then you should join! Right now! Just hitRECord!
* I have a serious obsession with Derevo, an outfit out of St Petersburg. I stumbled upon them by chance and then ensured I didn’t miss anything they brought to the Edinburgh Festival these past five years or so. I’ve never been more thankful I had a ticket for entry than on those days when I found myself standing in line to go into one of their shows. If you ever get the chance, I implore you to watch them… with wide WIDE open eyes.