Le Journal Interviews

Interview with Lucy Temple

Interview with Lucy Temple

Lucy Temple creates geometric, Islamic-inspired paintings that utilise a range of vibrant colours and intricate patterns. While her pieces appear almost as ceramic tiles seen from a distance, on close inspection the delicacy of the watercolour on textured paper becomes apparent. The fluid, flowing form of her work contrasts with the sharp, neat edge created through the use of watercolour on paint and demonstrates a meticulous level of detail.

Lucy has an upcoming show at Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London, where she will collaborate with two close artist friends: Eliza Campbell and Sarah Hiscox. This show follows the success of the artistic trio’s first exhibition in the gallery of Lucy’s father, which specialises in Russian and Greek Byzantine icons.

I ask Lucy if growing up around Byzantine icons influenced her work. ‘It must have done. I don’t particularly love icons and yet, ironically, I specialise in Islamic design. I’m certainly not drawn to the religious aspect but they are very beautiful. I think somehow, they’ve had an effect on me. There are so many stories and so much meaning behind it I can’t help but be fascinated by them.’

It seems for Lucy it is not so much the religious aspect of such work but the historical that is of interest. She tells me that even a thousand years ago, geometric shapes were being created with a piece of sand and a tuft of grass that blew in the wind and created circles. This, she believes, is an early example of pattern making.

lucy temple
Lucy Temple on ArtAndCollect

Lucy’s work, however, takes on a contemporary twist. Lucy combines bright, electric colours reminiscent of the Pop Art movement with traditional Islamic patterns. While other artists tend to stay faithful to the more muted, traditional colour schemes, Lucy feels that she is pushing the boundaries of colour. ‘I specialise in mixing colours. Nothing is uniform. Nothing is perfectly the same tone. Half the fun is playing with the colours.’

Another factor that makes her work unique is the scale of it. Most artists in her field hand draw images on a smaller scale. ‘Generally I’ve been much more daring and bold,’ she claims.

Prior to creating these works, Lucy was producing radically different work: she supplied football clubs with Female Fan merchandise. This began when she fashioned a bag out of a Chelsea scarf for herself, and then developed into her managing the mass manufacturing of t-shirts for girls in team colours without the logos of advertising sponsors. For Lucy, however, the required ‘ruthless drive to make money’ eventually led her to direct her attentions elsewhere.

Lucy studied an art foundation in her youth but it was not until 2006, when her son was old enough, that she was able to return to her studies and obtain a Masters at the School of Traditional arts in East London. Lucy believes that her mild dyslexia, means she is far more skilled at creating mathematical patterns and working with her hands rather than with text. Admitting to not having been a model student in secondary school, she recollects being surprised to find that she thoroughly enjoyed learning about traditional arts. ‘I know it sounds mad, but getting into sacred geometry was honestly like failing in love.’ The MA was 90% practical work with a dissertation on the decorative aspects of the Taj Mahal, inspired by the long periods of time she spent in India in her 20s. For her final piece she created a yurt with different patterned panels, using sequins, hand sewn ribbon, paint and collage.

‘There are patterns everywhere in life. We are all made up of patterns. Even raindrops, the stars, flowers and the sea have natural patterns. There is geometry in nature. Making patterns, physically drawing them and painting them has a physical effect on me. It’s so satisfying, it’s organised chaos’.

Lucy Temple
Lucy Temple in her studie

Lucy works using a wide range of templates she created using a rotary pen which is then digitally enlarged. All works are square and need a centre, a theme in the middle, ‘to stop it looking like wrapping paper,’ she explains. She traces the patterns onto a large sheet of paper, then tea stains the paper to give it a parchment-like feel. In light of the resulting distinctive warmth, Lucy believes the work looks a lot better when hung on a white wall. Next, she decides on the colour scheme, which includes everything from toned down grey with browns and creams to pop art-like bright pink, electric blue and gold. She never works with the same colour schemes twice in a row.

Lucy’s works are particularly suited for interior design and sell well because of their ability to transform a room without overwhelming it. Especially successful are pieces are what she terms ‘the girl’ colours, being rose pinks with crimsons and gold.

As artistic influences, Lucy names Chris Ofilli and Bridget Riley. Of the latter she says, ‘some people look at her work and feel nothing at all but I can see all the work involved and it comes alive to me.’

Lucy sells her work through art fairs, dealers, exhibitions, her website and social media. Instagram has significantly increased her outreach, especially because of the videos she posts of herself creating her works. She has even been approached on Instagram to paint physical versions of other artist’s digital works. I ask if she is ever tempted to create her work digitally too. ‘No’ she says, ‘I like the touch and the feel of the works, I realise that computers are useful, but I definitely want to stay with the craft of hand painting. There is calm in the process of painting. This is the thing that keeps me sane!’

Lucy Temple’s exhibition with Liza Campbell and Sarah Hiscox, ‘There’s A Party On A Thursday In A Forest Near You’, at Rebecca Hossack gallery runs from 11-21 October 2017.

More info: Rebecca Hossack

Lucy’s works can be bought on ArtAndCollect: https://www.artandcollect.com/author/lucytemple/