An interview with Lucy Brown

Lucy is a London based illustration artist and designer. Her beautifully detailed drawings on paper and vellum combined make these otherworldly scenes appear all the more ephemeral. Although traditional in style and technique, these imaginative creations succeed in poetically evoking and enchanting our sensitivity to this fine art.

'“Together her exploration of animals and humans is an attempt at understanding the complexities between the natural world and human nature.”

Point101: How did you become interested in illustrating?

Lucy Brown:  I have always been interested in drawing people since I was a little girl, which developed into my career in costume design. There’s a curiosity I have towards understanding what’s beyond the surface of a person - pain, joy, intrigue, love, playfulness? Then exploring these ideas through drawing animals came later as I started to feel more connected with nature and the environment we share. I’m beginning to carve out a space to express my creativity through illustration, and trying to replace my sense of imposter-syndrome with an authentic delight for what I do.

P101: Why the material preferences? 

LB: I used to exclusively paint in watercolour (which I still enjoy), but then Dura-lar was a great discovery for me. The way the matte film takes the coloured pencil enables a more delicate approach to drawing which I think adds to the whimsy of the storytelling. I would like to make use of the milky transparency of the material and begin experimenting with layering the film sheets.

Media print is definitely something of interest to me.

P101: Tell us about your technique  

LB: I like walking along the river by my apartment, spending time with my sister’s dogs, Dolly and Violet. There’s a therapeutic element to being around nature and animals which opens my mind to make space for ideas to come forward. Then I take this inspiration, along with a cup of coffee, and develop the ideas through simple sketches and colour stories. Once I have the basic layout and composition in place I focus in on the details. Having come from a design background I have developed quite a solid process of working through ideas and trying to be consistent. However, I do like to let my work evolve in a way that feels organic and natural. I’m working on trying to leave some of the detail out, to make room for the work to breath a little.

P101: How long does each illustration typically take?

LB:  On average, a piece would take anywhere between 20-40 hours, but it depends on what time I have available. Sometimes a tight deadline can produce the most uninhibited work. It leaves you less time for self doubt.

P101: Where do the narratives to your drawings come from?

LB:  I like to reminisce and day dream…..I’m a classic Pisces. Nostalgia is often gently weaved throughout my work, with a devotion to compassion. I like each piece to be it’s own little world, a place where I can explore dreams and stories. I’m inspired by Vermeer’s magnetic use of colour and light. I enjoy listening to one of my favourite bands, Fleet Foxes, whilst I draw. Their music is so beautiful and their storytelling through word and melody is haunting and romantic. My quest is to capture that on paper somehow…haha! I’m always drawn to films and plays where it’s about what’s not said as much as what is said. I like leaving a little space for the audience to breath their own voice into the artwork. However, the other side of me sometimes just wants to draw something silly and a little humorous, with colour and vitality. 

P101: Are you strictly a solo artist?

LB: I usually work alone, however I’ve worked in theatre for many years so I know the triumphs which come from collaborating with fellow artists. I’m always open to the possibilities of such creative adventures as well as pushing myself further with my work.

P101: Where do you envision your artwork belonging?

LB: I would love to exhibit in a gallery, that’s a dream of mine to create a series for exhibition. Currently, I’ve been creating for personal prints. However, collaborating with an author for illustrative book work would also be a delight. I really just love drawing and working and seeing how it evolves.

P101: What type of paper do you think works best with your printed artwork?

LB: I love the Hahnemuhle Photorag because of its texture and beautiful print quality. Lovely Pauline at Print 101 recommended it to me.

P101: How does this artistic pursuit fit in with your day to day life?

LB: My day to day life is drawing, walking my sister’s dogs, then designing (I still work as a Costume Designer, which I love). I try to commit to drawing a little each day, to be curious and inspired by my surroundings. If I wait for a lightening bolt to strike then I would never work.

P101: Do you have any other interests/hobbies that influence/inspire you? 

LB: Does singing along to musicals (badly) and watching Miss Marple count as an interesting hobby? I really just love the simplicity of reading a book and drinking tea, with cake of course! Oh and I love Arthur Miller, reading his plays are always a source of inspiration for character study.

See more of Lucy’s work here.

Tony Ray Jones,  Pepys Estate, Deptford, London: children playing on a raised walkway , 1970. Credit: Tony Ray-Jones / RIBA Collections

Tony Ray Jones, Pepys Estate, Deptford, London: children playing on a raised walkway, 1970. Credit: Tony Ray-Jones / RIBA Collections

The latest exhibit at the Wellcome Collection spans both their temporary gallery spaces with an extensive look into our relationship with buildings over the last two centuries. The works on display brings to light the physical and psychological impact our built environment has on us and the innovative ways designs have been altered to achieve maximum wellbeing.

That is just half of the exhibition. The upper gallery space is dedicated to an open call architectural submission piece that responds to the urgent and adaptive health care designs being used in remote locations. Here we see architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) and engineers BuroHappold and Chapman (BDSP) work with Doctors of the World to create 1:1 scale structures that can be easily transported and set up in any given scenario, with strong and sturdy capabilities and use of waterproof materials stretched over them for shelter and much lacking private space that such current conditions cannot provide.


Rab Harling, still from  Inversion/Reflection: What Does Balfron Tower Mean To You?,  2014. Credit: © Rab Harling

Rab Harling, still from Inversion/Reflection: What Does Balfron Tower Mean To You?, 2014. Credit: © Rab Harling

Living with Buildings, like other Wellcome Collection exhibitions, draws together science and art to explore our relationship with our constructed world. Starting with London’s slums from the end of the 19th century with a draft preface for Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, in which he declared that “nothing effectual can be done for the elevation of the poor in England, until their dwelling places are made decent and wholesome”, we see the concern with living conditions already being drawn on by creative minds of the time. And the exhibition continues as such, with special commissioned pieces by Giles Round, whose work here explores colour and light and their role on health; Joe Kerr, who invites the public to timed/self guided tours “through the radical histories of Somers Town and King’s Cross”; and Ian Sincalir’s book ‘Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts’ which is published by Wellcome Collection and explores the relationship between sickness and structure.

There is a remarkable collection from RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) scattered around and one that really stood out was Ernö Goldfinger’s design propositions and eventual construction of Balfron Tower. This was designed in 60’s brutalist characteristics with a few distinguishing key elements in mind such as placing waste disposal areas separate from living areas, connected with a bridge, and the notion of bringing high rise style of homes to Britain placed in green environments. Goldfinger transferred this architectural style onto his later Trellick Tower. What is most curious about Goldfinger and Balfron was probably his decision to move into the completed building that he designed and live among its inhabitants.

Andreas Gursky,  Paris Montparnasse , 1993. Credit: © Tate, London 2018

Andreas Gursky, Paris Montparnasse, 1993. Credit: © Tate, London 2018

And of course, Andreas Gursky’s Paris ‘Paris Montparnasse’ makes an appearance in this exhibit about buildings. Constructed as a large scale photograph in 1993 of a high-density apartment building, this 2.1 x 4 metre piece allows details of people’s homes to be clearly portrayed up close by the viewer to ultimately be overwhelmed by the close living quarters of the inhabitants when contemplated from further back. This work visually communicates the realities of urban living.

The first floor gallery space above explores the project Global Clinic created in response to Wellcome Collection collaborative commission from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and BuroHappold and ChapmanBDSP to aid Doctors of the World, an independent humanitarian charity operating across the globe with emergency care as well as long term training. The simple idea behind the winning design from this open call recognises the current situation of remote health care and has responded with a flexible, robust and easily transportable plywood pieces that connect together to make a basic but sturdy structure in which to safely practise healthcare. The engineering behind cutting the plywood is programmed by a CNC (computer numerical control) which can be adjusted in shape and size to adapt to preferred requirements. 

An example of this Global Clinic project’s potential is on display in the space with a 1:1 scale model which will be deployed to a location in need by Doctors of the World after the closing of the exhibit.

Living with Buildings run until March 3rd and is free to the public, with timed guided tours that alternately highlight parts of the exhibit. Works on display also feature that of Rachael Whiteread, Marther Rosler and Cathrine Yass. In addition, particular case studies are presented on hospital design and wellbeing as well as a look into the recent architectural flaws behind the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Wellcome Collection is a free museum with the self appointed motto of being the museum for the “incurably curious”. It encourages learning and challenging human health through events, exhibitions and its vast collection acquired by Sir Henry Wellcome, which amounted to some 125,000 medically related objects and artefacts by the time he died in 1936. His legacy has had a very successful history starting from the formation of a charity as his last will. Through this Wellcome Trust, research has been amongst the leading in the world.

Visit Wellcome Collection

AuthorNazy Raouf

V&A Photography Centre –entrance,Gallery 108, with view into The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre –entrance,Gallery 108, with view into The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

An exciting addition to the Victoria & Albert Museum, the new Photography Centre is just one in the line up of the museum’s expansion. It came about as a result of the a recent acquisition of 270,000 photographs from the Royal Photographic Society last year. This has doubled the space dedicated to the relatively new art form in the V&A and plans are to double this again in order to showcase as much of the new collection as possible, which now totals some 800,000 photographs and photography related objects acquired since 1852. The centre is only able to display around 600 of this at the moment in its Modern Media Gallery, Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery (Rooms 99, 100, 101 and 108).

V&A Photography Centre – The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre – The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

Initially opened as the ‘Museum of Manufactures’ in May of 1852 at Marlborough House and then ‘South Kensington Museum’ in 1857, the name was finally dedicated to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1899, at the laying of the foundation stone of the Aston Webb building ceremony. During her speech, Queen Victoria remarked "I trust that it will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source of Refinement and Progress.”

And so it has. Since its early days, the V&A has been at the forefront of presenting wide art education in the UK, from accommodating to the working class by operating late openings to its establishment of the Science Museum.

It was also the V&A that was first in the world to host a photography exhibition in 1858 in its Refreshment upper room-boasting another first; that is, providing such facilities to the public. This major exhibition of the newly established medium displayed 1009 photographs, put together by the Photographic Society of London (now the Royal Photographic Society) and included around 250 contributions from its French counterpart, the Société Française de Photographie.

Although this exhibition was not the great success we may think it would have been, the legacy it set is certainly notable. The Royal Photographic Society, today a recognised charity, ‘realises its objectives through exhibitions and competitions, workshops and courses, a distinctions and qualifications programme, and holds over 500 events across the UK. It also acts as an advocate for photography with the media and government.’

In the beginning, the V&A, or South Kensington Museum as it was known at the time, also held the early collection of today’s Science Museum and it was not until 1914 that the two institutions separated entirely. But the age old debate of art verses science was evident even within this early photographic display as much as it was with photographers of the time. It is in such ways that the V&A invites the public to learn and shape opinions on what art is. This is especially significant when dealing with a form as complex and adaptive as photography that as been so heavily used in all areas of society. Perhaps this review from one writer of the Athenaeum of the time says it best:

'Altogether, whether for light and shade, breadth and dignity, atmosphere and detail, this Exhibition is an advance on the efforts of last year. The artists go on boldly, and are not afraid to be chemists; the chemists gain courage, and long to be artists.'

This is what the new display hopes to show; photography in all its aspects from the tangible early engineering to images as projections that defy the very characteristic of a photograph being timeless.

V&A Photography Centre – V&A Photography Centre – entrance landing, display cases, and camera handling table, Gallery 108 © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre – V&A Photography Centre – entrance landing, display cases, and camera handling table, Gallery 108 © Will Pryce

There is also a variety of cameras on display specifically for the public to handle as well as a further 150 more in cabinets that serve as an extravagant doorway into the exhibit. Perhaps what sets off our journey through this chronology of photography is William Fox Talbot’s whole-plate camera mounted on its wooden tripod (donated to the RPS in 1921). Regarded as the British inventor of photography, Talbot introduced the fixed image in 1834, marking a turning point for the medium as it made it possible to produce reproductions.

Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) Man performing a handstand on stairs 1887 Collotype © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) Man performing a handstand on stairs 1887 Collotype © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Another notable pioneer in the collection is Edward Muybridge whose used of separate cameras captured the distinct stages of movement; something never seen before by the human eye or in sequential prints. This revolutionary thinking process was further funded by the V&A with the series ‘Animal Locomotive’ and a new standard of photography emerged; the ability to capture various shots of a single motion, giving way to the ideal frame and possibly even the notion of ‘the decisive moment’.

Also among the early photography on display is ‘Festuca Ovina (Rescue Grass) 1854’ by Anna Atkins who adapted Sir John Herschel’s cyanotype process to create the first photographically illustrated published book. 

Moving on with pioneering photography, Ernest Payne’s ‘Album of X-Ray Photographs’ is displayed in the collection. Although the first X-Ray images were actually made in Germany by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895, this photographically conceived invention led to ground breaking discoveries in the medical field.

V&A Photography Centre – interactive stereograph displays, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre – interactive stereograph displays, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery © Will Pryce

Additionally displayed in Room 100 are Sterographs and along with it the possibility of photography used as a popular household entertainment feature. Massively produced transportable devices, the V&A describes them as ‘an early form of virtual reality’ that users could look through to see several images merge together to create a three dimensional illusion. 

Four series are on display here: ‘Scenes from La Muette de Portici 1860s’ photographer unknown; ‘Views from Crystal Palace Exhibition at Sydenham Hill, 1855’ by Henry Negretti and Joseph Zambra; ‘Photographic Studies or Studies from Life 1857-64’ by Clementina, Lady Hawarden; and ‘Nagasaki 1859-61’ by Pierre Joseph Rossier’.

Man Ray’s famous ‘Rayographs’ make an appearance as well with ‘La Maison, from the portfolio Électricité’. The photogram process takes that of Sir Herschel’s cyanotype into the darkroom where bursts of light from an enlarger acts as the sun, allowing exposures to be cut down to seconds and sharper silhouettes to be captured.

Another darkroom technique exhibited is solarisation, by Madame Yevonde. This process reverses tones of a photograph by using an initial technically correct and fixed print to act as a negative. This is placed faced down on unexposed paper under a sheet of glass. White, unfiltered light is then shone on and the development of the blank paper shows the original print in reverse.

V&A Photography Centre – Gallery 101 © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre – Gallery 101 © Will Pryce

The exhibit also contains the contemporary photography from the collection with iconic images from notable photographers like Tom Wood, Martin Parr, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Sian Bonnell and Hiroshi Sigimoto.

Room 99, The Modern Media Gallery, holds the ‘Light Wall’ which is designed to display screen based photography: a key aspect to any modern photography exhibit (The Photographer’s Gallery has its ‘Media Wall’ to question and inspire the future of the medium in relation to the digital, and with the same intent of showing photography at its new digital era).

At the moment American artist Penelope Umbrico’s ‘171 Clouds from the V&A Online Collection 1630 – 1885’ occupies the multiple screens, showing a transition of 171 images and acting as homage to the notion of photography as ephemeral and intangible once again. 

‘The work explores the transition from fleeting clouds to material paint, and then from digital code to physical screen.’

The last section to the exhibition is the ‘Project Space’ in Room 101 where currently German photographer Thomas Ruff has also used the V&A collection to create the series ‘Linnaeus Tripe’. The large photographs on display here are inspired by Linnaeus Tripe’s 1850s paper negatives of India and Burma.

V&A Photography Centre – the Dark Tent, The Modern Media Gallery © Will Pryce

V&A Photography Centre – the Dark Tent, The Modern Media Gallery © Will Pryce

A video loop also runs in the space’s ‘Dark Tent’ explaining the various photographic processes from daguerreotypes and calotype to 35mm slides and Thomas Ruff’s project (Linnaeus Tripe’) using the Paper Negative.

The space is but a glimpse into the archived discipline of photography, where each piece on display carries the medium’s very complex relationship with the world.

Visit: Victoria & Albert Museum Photography Centre

AuthorNazy Raouf