'Station Ticket Hall', 2007, Lucy Williams, mixed media on board
If the word collage brings to mind used up yoghurt pots, egg cartons, glitter and glue, then the work of Lucy Williams might come as quite a shock. The British artist specialises in low relief collages of mid-20th century Modernist architecture, and couldn't be further away from the sticky mess we've all created in yesteryears.
Modernist architecture in collage might seem an unlikely pairing of subject matter and medium but even the briefest glance at Williams' work shows how well the stark and hard-edged geometry lends itself to depiction in modular blocks of different material in a range of subtle textures and colours. The minute precision is extraordinary: each iron railing, brick and leaf is individually applied and the overall effect is mesmerising.
Click here to view Lucy's work from 'Beneath a woollen sky'.
Williams' has her first solo show in London this month titled 'Beneath a Woollen Sky' at the Timothy Taylor Gallery and we caught up with artist to find out more...
Did you want to be an artist when you were younger?
No, not really, I didn't realise you could be such a thing until I had nearly left school, but I was always making things.
Where does you fascination with mid-century Modernism stem from?
There is something visually iconic about Modernist architecture, pared down, distilled to its essence, a blank canvas we imagine inhabiting. The era was about belief, ideas that we now no longer hold, of social cohesion through the design of a building, Utopian dreams long dissipated. Within the work those ideals are celebrated, but must also describe a time lost to us now.
Who, what, where and when are you greatest sources of inspiration?
The Constructivists; the concept of the Bauhaus and its output; the RIBA archive; Patrick Caulfield; municipal architecture; Mary Martin; new towns; Ben Nicholson; El Lissitzky's Abstract Cabinet in the Sprengel Museum in Hannover; swimming pools.
How long does each work take to produce and what does the process consist of?
Each work takes about a month, sometimes longer. Once I have found a photograph, I scale it up and make a very detailed and precise drawing. It is at this stage I have a pretty good idea whether it will work as a collage, and also at this stage I make my first decisions about what materials I will use. I work from back to front, usually deciding how the background will be made and slowly working forward. I plan a little but not very much, I like being surprised, and in this respect it is not unlike the process of painting.
How did you master the precision involved in your work?
Lots of practice! My work has evolved its complexity over time. There are things I cut now that I wouldn't have been able to do a few years ago.
There's a very powerful sense of absence and vacancy in your images, is this a conscious deployment?
I see them more as a world to be inhabited, but people do often see them as the way you describe. People project different narratives onto them.
What excites and terrifies you on a daily basis?
I'm excited by the lit-up tower blocks beside the canal in Hoxton on my walk home from the studio in the evening. I'm terrified that the latest work will be my last or accidentally cutting a finger off (perhaps this is the same thing...)