- Date: 1 May 2014
- Artform: Visual arts
- Area: Midlands
It was at this exhibition that her photographic print ‘Blonde’ was seen and purchased for the Arts Council Collection, one of the biggest loan collections of contemporary art in the UK, which is managed by the Southbank Centre in London on behalf of Arts Council England. Here she answers some of our questions about her career as a visual artist, tells us who inspires her and what advice she would give to students who are just starting their art degrees.
Yes it has always been my ambition to be an artist. I decided at a very young age that making art was what I was going to do. It feels wonderful to know that some people like it or have some interest in it apart from myself.
What medium do prefer to work in and how would you describe your artistic style?
I like to work across a range of mediums. My main priority is what medium best conveys what I want in the work. However, I always start from drawing and it progresses from there. In particular, I have a bit of a soft spot for printmaking.
Which artists inspire you and influence your work?
I spend an awful lot of time in the National Gallery looking at the Old Masters paintings, the richness and strong narratives are very inspiring, a favourite of mine being Rubens. Other artists which I am interested in are Walter Sickert, Yinka Shonibare, Kara Walker, Grayson Perry and Cindy Sherman, to name but a few.
What was the inspiration behind the piece of work which has been acquired by the Arts Council Collection?
The main inspiration behind the work was my family and the relationships that exist between the different cultures. I was also interested in items which were manufactured in the UK back when the country was an industrial centre. The work aimed to explore how cultures and classes in the family have developed since the British manufacturing industry declined.
What is it like being an artist studying and working in the West Midlands and how has being part of New Art West Midlands impacted your career?
New Art West Midlands has been such a fantastic exhibition to participate in. The scheme has allowed me to enhance my network of curators, artists and other arts professionals, as well as allowing me to exhibit in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which is such an incredible venue.
As a result of New Art West Midlands I am currently doing a residency at the Library of Birmingham which has been a vital in continuing and improving working as an artist. Being in the Midlands has great transport links throughout the UK so I am easily able to get to art events throughout the country, whilst also having access to a large and thriving art scene and affordable studios in the West Midlands.
Education is obviously important, but what other things do artists need to thrive and be successful?
I think it’s very important to be organised and have good working knowledge of how to approach galleries or institutions with whom you want to work. To continuously network and attend arts events. I also feel it’s important for artists to know their market and understand where there work sits in relation to other artists.
What does it mean for you to have a piece of your work acquired by the Arts Council Collection?
To be acquired by the Arts Council Collection was such a shock and compliment. The collection is renowned for being one of the best collections of British art, and to be able to be a part of that is such a privilege.
What do you think are the biggest challenges young artists face?
In terms of creating work, I think as there is no definite art movement it can be very difficult for artists to know where their work sits in relation to others. On the other hand, it is a blessing to have that freedom and I see it as an exciting time to make new work, as really anything goes and advancements in technology are ongoing.
In terms of practical challenges affording to be an artist is a big challenge especially in London where rent of both housing and studios is very high. However in places like Birmingham where there is a large art scene opportunities are more abundant and associations like Turning Point West Midlands are increasing these and making it easier for artists to continue making work.
What advice would you give to students who are just beginning their art degrees and what opportunities should they look out for?
I would advise to make the most of all the university workshops and lectures. Listen and take on board what tutors/technicians advise. Make work that you understand and try to get as much work experience of exhibiting opportunities, most importantly make sure you enjoy what you’re making. Graduate competitions are very valuable for continuing practice after University so I would advise to look out for them.
See more of Lucy’s work on her website.
For more information about how Arts Council England supports visual artists in the West Midlands, you can visit Turning Point West Midlands website.