This week Brighton Journal spoke to Lucy Finchett-Maddock. Lucy is a speculative artist whose work explores “artificial and formal divides” through painting, sculpture, sound, data, vibration and video. Her recent projects include a personal account of her pacemaker implant. We discussed how Stanmer Park became a source of inspiration for Lucy during both lockdowns, as well as how electronic music informs her practice. Keep reading to find out more about Lucy’s wonderful work.
What are you doing today?
I am going to meet a couple of friends for a walk and brave the elements along the seafront.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I have a spare room that doubles up as an office and studio, so I do all my creative thinking and making either at the easel, on the floor, or at the computer.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
The most exciting pieces that I have worked on have been the pieces that I made for my MA course at Brighton 2018-2020. I started working with fluorescent orange Perspex sheeting, as well as sound, through the course of the degree. I love the way the light bounces to the edge of Perspex, where they have their own kind of glow. So the pieces that have been a series of works the past few years that have used these acrylic pieces, particularly ‘Procedure’ for the Interim Show a 1.5 m2 piece of Perspex sheeting was attached to the wall as a relief sculpture. And then using the same colour orange fluorescent Perspex again to vibrate over a speaker, in ‘With all my heart’, where I had made a composition to feed through the speaker. This was my first experience of using sound in my work which has been a bit of a breakthrough.
What made you decide to become an artist?
Well, I still can struggle with that term quite a bit, as it is only in the last 10 years that I have gone back to my creative roots, whilst also continuing with my job as an academic. For personal reasons it can feel like quite a loaded term, but ultimately it has been out of necessity, to produce and make things, to respond and express, so I think I took the decision to honour this call a few years ago, and accept the name however uncomfortable it may feel!
What are you currently working on?
I have been making compositions in response to a friend and colleague Rose Parfitt’s a series of beautiful images, ‘Brutality + Nostalgia in the Age of Terror‘. Using the evocative titles from her work, so far I have made ‘A Patch of Lichen on the Roof Contemplates Hexagonality’ and ‘Perfect Brutality from the Inside Out’.
I am also working on a painting for my cousins as a Christmas present.
What are the key themes in your work?
The key themes have been around seeking to capture questions around artificial and formal divides – the human/machine, subject/object, separations between the aesthetic and the legal (given my other work as a legal academic). I see myself as a ‘speculative’ artist, which encapsulates anything emerging from my originally painted work, such as sculpture, sound, data, vibration and video.
Speculative also for me draws from a recent movement in philosophy ‘speculative realism’ that basically tries to decentre the experience of the human to account for other experiences of the world, of which we can only speculate.
The work that I produced during my MA were all a personal account of myself having a pacemaker implanted. So the themes of the heart, electricity, rhythm, vibration, transhumanism, have all been key.
What would you like people to notice about your work?
I think people would notice the bold colours, in the paintings like ‘Respond/Release’ as well as in the sculptures, and perhaps the bold, bassy sounds too.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
I work in a number of different mediums, so I am a little scattered in that manner and am attracted more by how the mediums make me feel at certain times. I was always amazed by how a colleague on the course said he didn’t make anything for thirty years and then he suddenly started producing glassware. I feel that can be the same for me, there isn’t really a rhyme or reason to the media I use, more of, this is where my practice is going and I kind of just let myself explore whatever comes up next. I don’t like the idea of being limited to one medium and think I can be a bit rebellious and want to use everything I can! I had to use video over the summer for my piece ‘Umbilical Buddy’ in the Final Show and that was really exciting.
What equipment could you not do without?
My hands and mind (me, I suppose!). My paintbrush. Newly discovered love for this year is the palette knife. And sketchbooks, thoughtbooks to work through ideas and designs. Oh and a decent light to work with as the nights draw in.
Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by colour, depth and abstraction, which for me can be in either painting or composition. I am a longstanding fan of electronic music, bass, so anything that has a bit of a kick and rhythm to it I can be very motivated by, to produce. I especially like painting whilst listening to abstract, bassy and ambient sounds (such as Massive Attack, Tricky, Biosphere, Brian Eno amongst others).
I very much love the abstract work of Mark Rothko, and Frank Bowling, each with their deep colours, the space and the emotion that I feel when ensconced in looking at their work. Barnett Newman’s zips remind me of divisions expressed in painted form, which I find very powerful.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
My work does very much get affected by where I am. Over the years I have moved quite a bit, from North Wales, down south to London, to Devon, to Sussex. Whilst I was in Devon I would paint lots of countryside scenes. Since coming to Sussex in 2013 my practice has definitely moved and shifted around, very much influenced by the other artists and tutors during my MA, bouncing off their energy and ideas at the same time. During the lockdown(s) my practice has been very inspired by the woods in Stanmer Park, I ended up composing ‘Tree Song’ as well as video ‘Not my Road’. So it is affected by the place, as well as the people.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I love to walk around Stanmer Park, which I live very close to. My love is really to sit and have coffee and ponder the world in one of the fabulous coffee shops on the Lanes, but alas not at the moment! We are very blessed with so many amazing places to meet up and gather in Brighton, as well as the seafront.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
Bit obvious but it’s got to be the Tate Modern, I do love the experience of being so immersed in such a huge space, so visually and intellectually stimulated. The White Cube Bermondsey is a typical sleek place that is also very inspiring. I also love going to Fabrica and the Towner Gallery as well, really enjoyed the recent show ‘Earthworks’ by Semiconductor, had to go back and sit there a while to absorb all the different blips and squelches.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with some of my favourite musicians such as Tricky or Massive Attack. I find their musical composition so different, otherworldly and so soulful, I admire them greatly. I would love to create visual work for them in response to their music.
What’s your favourite colour?
Definitely any shade of green, especially turquoise or aquamarine.
To find out more about Lucy and her work, take a look at her website.