Lucy May completed her BA in Fine art at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford. She is currently working on completing her MA in Art at the Royal College of Art in London. According to Lucy "My work is founded on an ongoing investigation of memory and the imagination, and revels in the grotesquely beautiful and the dusty annals of the past. The current sculptural work takes its cue from graphic sources such as the etchings of Rembrandt, Goya and Durer. It is heavily informed by Italian Baroque sculpture and therefore religious motifs.
Said motifs and arresting details from etchings are worked up into fantastical tableaux and figures. Their form, although recognizably in homage to traditional sculptural idioms, are molten and indeterminate; subject matter and meaning are thus rendered subservient to the seething and writhing mass of secretions and organic growth."
Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the founder of myartspace and CEO noted, “We had entries to the scholarship program from students at over 1,200 colleges and universities. The unbridled spirit and creativity from this group is quite impressive. While the top winners receive their recognition and award money, virtually all the submissions were of top-notch quality. We applaud the young contemporary artists in school today. Their contribution to the fine art world will be felt for decades to come. We are so excited from this first scholarship program we will be launching our 2009 scholarship program later this year and hope to see more than double the participation. Myartspace remains focused on improving the lives and careers of its community members.”
Citadel 1 by Lucy May
Brian Sherwin: Lucy, you are one of three winners of the graduate art scholarship competition provided by the artist social network myartspace.com. As you know the scholarship is intended for students who exhibit exceptional artistic excellence in their chosen medium and is to be used in order to further education in art. Can you describe how you felt entering the competition and your reaction to finding out that you had won?
Lucy May: Entering the competition was an excellent way for me to build a high quality gallery of my work online, since I don't yet have my own website. I was aware that the site is vast and diverse, and that there would be many applications for the Scholarship. I am honored that my work was selected and delighted that so many more people will be able to view my work as a result of this competition. I'm also excited about the possibilities that this will open up for me.
BS: Lucy, you are currently attending the Royal College of Art in London. Can you discuss you academic background? Have you had any influential instructors?
LM: Before my BA my academic background was very ordinary so I'll credit my parents with instilling in me my imaginative tendencies and thirst for knowledge.
I completed my BA at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University, which is an fascinating and unique place to study Fine Art. In particular, the study of human anatomy, taught by Dr. Sarah Simblet, was unforgettable and crucial to my creative development. Brian Catling, Head of Sculpture and Richard Wentworth, Ruskin Master, were also influential characters during this time.
I'm now into my second term of a two year MA at the Royal College of Art, London, following some time away from studying. During that time I continued to make new work and put on exhibitions, but am currently flourishing in an environment where I can immerse myself in my work and the creative atmosphere of the College, which I believe is second to none.
Living in Hackney in London has been hugely influential to me and I would like to highlight the support I have received from my fellow artists and the galleries I have been involved with most recently, namely:
Wilson Williams (www.wilsonwilliamsgallery.com/)
and Gone Tomorrow (www.gonetomorrowgallery.co.uk/info.html)
Citadel 2 by Lucy May
BS: You have stated that your work is founded on an ongoing investigation of memory and the imagination. Can you go into further detail about that? Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work…
LM: I am fascinated by the nature of human memory. I believe that imagination plays a huge part in the way we remember and that our imaginitive workings are steeped in personal memory, so I am currently researching the connection between the two. I am in love with the past and have tendencies towards introspection and a touch of melancholia; my internal or imaginative life is very rich, so my work aims to distil these things and give them an appropriate physical form.
BS: You have stated that your sculptural work is influenced from graphic sources such as the etchings of Rembrandt, Goya, Durer. Can you go into further detail about those influences concerning the context of your art?
LM: The etchings which I have seen by the above mentioned artists interest me for two main reasons. The first is the dramatic visual power of such detailed and highly wrought surfaces and beautifully rendered forms. The second is the incredible psychological intensity, particularly in Goya's work, of the subject matter, and the haunting effect this can have on the viewer.
Citadel 2 (detail) by Lucy May
BS: What about other influences?
LM: I am interested in the way that different cultures deal with loss and commemoration. I am therefore always fascinated to see relics, shrines, mementos and other such objects in all their diverse forms.
Children's books and toys from the past and graphic art from the Art Deco period have also been important to me. I love false flowers, plastic tat and other kinds of contemporary kitsch items, in which I find a kind of sad beauty.
Proust's epic work In Search of Lost Time has provided a background accompaniment to my thoughts about my work and life since 2002 and his reflections on memory have reinforced and inspired my own.
Most recently, the grandeur and gestural qualities of Italian Baroque sculpture have informed my work in wax. I'm an ardent admirer of Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso, and of course Gianlorenzo Bernini.
BS: How do you utilize symbolism within your work? For example, do colors have specific meanings to you? Discuss this aspect of your art…
LM: My work over the last few years have been entirely dominated by black, alluding to generalised ideas of death and mourning, but also because I felt that colour was superfluous and would distract me from the pursuit of beauty in form. Recent developments, as a result of resuming my studies, have led me to experiment with colour and have opened up new avenues of exploration.
Conglomerate 2 by Lucy May
LM: The work that I entered into this competition represents my output since leaving my BA course in 2005. During this time I feel that my work has developed significantly, becoming more ambitious and resolved. I have learned new things from each piece I have made. Each time I have completed a work I have seen what I need to do for the next one, in order to get closer to my ideal - of being able to successfully express in three dimensions the things I have mentioned above.
BS: In your opinion, how is the internet changing the landscape of the art world, so to speak. Obviously artists today have more opportunities than they had before the advent of the World Wide Web. What your thoughts on this?
LM: The Internet allows artists to have their work seen by a huge and diverse international audience in a quick, accessible and unintimidating fashion, and also to be the author of their own persona or mythology. The power of promotional tools such as online galleries and social networking sites would have been unimaginable pre-Internet, and I believe that there is yet more potential here, since the format is relatively young. It is an exciting time.
Conglomerate 4 by Lucy May
BS: What are your future plans as far as your art is concerned?
LM: My work is entering a more experimental phase. I will be concentrating on trying new processes and materials and combining them with the aspects of my practice I feel are already successful.
BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?
LM: Only that I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio