Lucy Gray has a degree in Fine Art Sculpture from Central School of Art and Design, London. Informed by the lochs, mountains, and woodland of Scotland's West Coast, Gray draws from both the physicality and the emotiveness of her surroundings. Synthesising the many textures and shapes that make up the landscape with thoughts and feelings generated while immersed in it, Gray's sculpture is a poetic parlance between the artist and the land.
The famous 20th century sculptor Barbara Hepworth once said, "I the sculptor am the landscape." Hepworth’s sculpture was abstract and predominantly carved out of stone and wood, so very different to Lucy Gray's mixed media works. But like Gray, Hepworth recognised that her work was a product of her surroundings.
Gray’s starting point is a walk through the local countryside. By treading the shore and scaling the hillside, she becomes a moving and present part of the landscape, entering a liminality that gives rise to ideas and feelings. She says, "In my work I translate an idea through natural forms, capturing the tipping point, the metamorphosis." This so called ‘metamorphosis’ is partly visualised in the size of Gray's work. Mussel and oyster shells- in reality no bigger than a soap dish- are scaled-up into monumental works of art. The size of these works coupled with their iridescent, gilded interiors evoke something godly and as awe-inspiring as the natural world itself.
For many years after graduating, Gray worked as a furniture restorer mastering skills in lacquering and gilding. This mastery remains an important part of her practice, manifested in her use of gold, silver and other metal leaf. Gilding is an ancient practice that befits Gray’s interest in historical methods of embalming, pressing, and encasing organic specimens, whereby they become precious and ornamental objects. In the same manner, Gray transforms something ordinary into something truly majestic.
As we look into the gilded mouths of Gray's giant shells, a formless shadow bounces and ripples over its shimmering surface. It is you, it is me; it's a symbiosis of two forms. Similarly, by binding together natural forms with human craftmanship, Gray presents us with art that is just as concerned with nature as it is with her and her place within it. It acknowledges our connection with the environment but more than that, it addresses the emotional enlightenment that comes from it. Gray strongly believes we are a part of nature: "we are animals, and it is very important that we are connected to the landscape." And so she hopes that her sculpture offers people a means to find their way back to it and in turn, disover their precious place within it.
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- Tags: environment, Gilding, Lucy Gray, Metal Leaf, mixed-media art, nature, Sculpture, Shells