Lucy Savage: Life Drawing in London

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In 2019, Lucy Savage was awarded a grant by The Isle of Man Arts Council giving her the opportunity to take up residency at 401 Studios, South London where she carries out her artistic practice. We caught up with Lucy recently in light of her involvement on a BBC4 live life drawing live event.

You’ve been at 401 ½ Studios for a year now, how does it feel to be part of the history of the studio that has hosted people like David Hockney, Mo Jupp and Anita Taylor?

401 made my work far more reputable which helped me achieve every bit of success I've had over the past year. It was amazing to meet the artists/blacksmiths/play writes etc and to exhibit with them. I would 100% recommend to any young aspiring artists on the island that when you have the chance to embed yourself in as many networks of artists as you can.

Saying that, I'm currently organising an exhibition in New York and have had to give up my place at 401 to save for it. I can't say anymore at this stage but I'm very excited! It will be an incredible achievement for me personally and professionally.

As well as 401 ½ you’re also represented by Mall Galleries? Was that a connection made through the studio?

First I received a drawing bursary from Mall Galleries to make and exhibit work. Then I started looking for a studio to make the work in. Shortly after sending off a few applications I was invited to join 401 and it was a no brainer. But Mall Galleries were thrilled to hear about it and have since welcomed me onto the Hesketh Hubbard Society for 2020. The studio has been an incredible platform as well as a means to make work.

Your sketch style combined with the colour paper and use of contrasting colours for shadows and highlights makes your work very eye catching, I’m sure people have mentioned artists such as Egon Schiele for the figurative subject but I also think of some study works by people like Jenny Saville, Tracy Emin and Emma Hopkins shine through in your pieces. As your work has progressed, have you found what influences your work changes and do you still hold key artists close?

I love Egon Schiele so much, he reminds me to believe in my own unique style and that tradition isn’t always the way even in representational art. I'm honoured to be compared to him so often.

I also love Urs Fischer and Antony Gormley. I'm more influenced by figurative sculpture and installation than 2d works, maybe this comes from drawing models and having the body physically in front of me. I want my drawings to emit that same sense of presence. 

2019 seemed to be a very busy time for you between exhibitions, art fairs and teaching, were there any events that stand out in particular?

A complete whirlwind! One project would lead to another and that gathered momentum for the next thing. Exhibiting at Mall Galleries was definitely a highlight, to see the crowds of people pouring in was amazing. I sold my first piece of work at an exhibition following that with Jonathon Farningham and Bartholomew Beal, a fabulous artist who recently passed, so that's very memorable to me. I was thrilled to exhibit in an art fair at House of Vans, and for my work to then be taken all over the world - I only wish I could have followed! 

BBC4 have aired their first ever life drawing live event, which you are involved with. This must be a great opportunity to work with other professionals and have your work on national television, how did you find out about it?

I met one of the producers at Mall Galleries! She came to my life drawing class to look for artists, we chatted and things went from there. I only found out I was going to be in the live show a few days before, so again a bit of a whirlwind experience that I am so grateful to have had! I never anticipated my work taking me to a live show on BBC4, I feel very proud and I'm already looking towards the next big thing.

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