Lucy Hardie's intricate illustrations connect two worlds October 06 2016
Melbourne based artist Lucy Hardie, creates meticulously fine lined drawings and paintings of otherworldly, fantasy based works, tapping into the spiritual world outside our common reality. Hardie works out of a studio at Abbotsford convent in Melbourne, her work draws on inspirations from the old masters, encompassing different techniques she learnt from her father’s art books including a combination of egg tempera, resin and oils. Inspired by her great grandmother whom was a medium, her creations conjure elements of life and death, present and past, in a bid to find what connects us.
Lucy is premiering new work which expands on themes of light and dark, life and death, and the continuum between the two, for the next Small Wall project show, at Outre Gallery on October 21. The show is a series of ink drawings and each piece has taken up to 200 hours to complete. Lucy’s intention for the show is, “to provide the viewers a small, but magical, wonder - full experience.”We caught up with Lucy at her studio to find out more about her old masters painting techniques, her spiritual family history and the inspiration behind her work and process.
Your work is intensely detailed, where did you muster this drive to work to such an intricate standard?
I’ve always been detail oriented, so it comes naturally to me to make pictures in this way. When I was starting out, I was very inspired by artists with a high level of technical skill, and the effects they achieved in their work fascinated me. It wasn’t the realism that I wanted to emulate; it was the incredible visual worlds that their skill enabled them to create that I was inspired by. It was the seemingly effortless way that texture was created, the masterful use of line, the softness and depth of their rendering, and how all this came together to create such an inspiring experience for me. I learnt to draw by studying my favourite artists through books, and I became obsessed with developing my skills so I could be as equipped as possible to capture whatever the imagination had in store.
The content in your creations is quite surreal, and imaginative, is this coming from a place of inner expression, if so could you explain a little further?
I’m interested in evoking an otherworldly experience through my work, one that touches on what it means to be human, irrespective of time or place. There’s something so wonderful about being carried away by a beautiful song or a piece of art. Time is suspended in these moments, and suddenly beauty, wonder and awe takes over. These are the kind of momentary experiences I aspire for my work to illicit in viewers.
Growing up in the country gives you a lot of freedom and room for one’s thoughts to run wild, how do you think this experience shaped the themes in your work?
I have vivid memories of the sense of spaciousness and freedom I experienced growing up. I think it seeped inside my bones somehow, and I’m sure it comes out through my work. I also wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was nearly ten, so I spent a lot of time playing and building up worlds in my imagination, which is something I draw on today.
At what moment did you realise art was something which you could pursue as a way to actually earn a living?
When I had my debut solo show as a self-taught artist in 2007, it sold out on opening night, and it was after then that I decided to commit to pursing art. But it’s really been a series of decisions, and a series of encounters with people along the way that have helped me continue to pursue art.
Did you have much resistance from your family or the people around you?
In the beginning, there was resistance from people who didn’t seem to realise that it was possible to earn a living as an artist, who encouraged me not to go down such an uncertain road. But my family are very supportive of what I do, and so are the people around me. There was a point, though, where I stopped looking for someone outside me to say “go for it”, and gave myself the permission, and when I did that, people around me stopped doubting so much. I still experience resistance, although mainly from myself, and that’s what I find the most challenging to deal with. The decision to continue to create is one I need to make on a regular basis.
In terms of getting a break in the art scene, how did you get yours?
There have been many small breaks. It started with having my first solo show, which then lead to opportunities to be part of group shows in Melbourne. I entered my work into prizes too, and that allowed me to be part of shows interstate. I then went and studied painting in Austria for a while in 2009 where I met artists from around the world. That led to more opportunities to exhibit in Europe and the USA. Putting my work out there, being willing to experience rejection, approaching other artists who were where I wanted to be in person and online, and continuing to do this, has made all the difference.
Your studio is at the Abbotsford Convent, could you speak a little bit about how you came to get / what drew you to a studio here?
I dreamt of having a studio at the Abbotsford Convent for years, and it wasn’t till I moved back to Melbourne in 2014 that they advertised a studio through their mailing list, which I applied for and was fortunate enough to get! I love the old buildings, the beautiful surrounds, how it’s like it’s own little universe. I feel inspired working in such a beautiful atmosphere.
Could you speak about your process when in the studio?
I arrive in the studio early, have everything I need set up at arms reach: tea, snacks, materials, photo references. Sometimes I listen to podcasts and interviews while I work, but mostly music. It can be easy for me to lose track of time while sitting in one position for so long, so I need to make a conscious effort to take breaks, have a little dance, visit another artist down the corridor, go for a walk.
Which emotion do you feel is the most alleviated after creating a piece?
That sense of hunger to do something, that feeling of I MUST, because I HAVE to. When I have done a full day’s work, I am fulfilled.
Would you say that the work you have created for the Outre show follows a similar exploration to other works you have created or are you tapping into something different for it?
Yes, the works for this show expand on themes of light and dark, life and death, and the continuum between the two. The show is a series of ink drawings and each piece has taken up to 200 hours to complete. The final piece for the show, which I’m working on at the moment, is a little different. I think it is the beginning of a new direction in style. A little softer, a little more pared back.
Could you speak about the process you went through to create the works for the Outre show?
It was a challenge to choose a body of work that marries well together for a small show, where each piece can be appreciated on it’s own, but that also works when viewed alongside the others as a whole. Each piece tells a different story, and has a unique emphasis aesthetically, but all are linked by similar themes. My intention for this show is to provide the viewers a small, but magical, wonder - full experience.
Lucy Hardie - The Space Between
Opening 6pm Friday October 21 @ Outre Gallery
Free Entry and beers supplied by Feral Brewing Co.
RSVP on Facebook here
*View or purchase the artwork here
Words: Nicola Mitchell