Artist Lucy Hersey started painting ‘on the side’ while working as a scientific research assistant. She says she always had a creative side, but it wasn’t until 2020 that she was able to take her love of landscape painting full-time.
‘I think I was about 25 when one day I decided out of the blue that I’d get myself a big board and do a huge painting of native flowers and birds,’ Lucy says. ‘It took me months, and occupied most of our dining room, but I finished it, and then started another. And guess I didn’t stop!’
Since her first exhibition in 2018, the self-taught artist has honed her expertise at capturing the evolving landscapes just outside her home and studio in South Gippsland, Victoria.
But her studies and experience in scientific research have also helped inform her painting practice in unique ways. Lucy began ‘tinkering’ with natural dyes to create less plastic waste in her studio, and before long, she levelled up to making her own ground pigments from natural materials she forages herself!
‘I start a painting well before I come to the canvas part. The first stage is collecting my materials,’ Lucy explains. ‘I’ve got a few local spots that I go to regularly to stock up my earth pigments, but I also love collecting when we are travelling around so I’m always making my husband Nathan pull the car over so I can grab some dirt from a roadwork site or a rockslip.’
‘I’m always thinking of the traditional owners when I’m collecting, never take from sacred sites, and try to take as little as possible, especially from plants,’ Lucy adds.
When she’s back in her studio, she hammers rocks using a mortar and pestle, mixing the earth into pastes or washes with water, or heat, to steep the plant colours – creating wonderful tones of charcoal, sepia and brown!
Tragically, her old workspace was destroyed in intense storms last year. But being able to replace it with a picturesque timber shed, complete with a higher ceiling and ‘sweet little triangular windows’, has helped mark a new chapter of her practice, as her next body of work launches at Gallery Raye this week.
‘Golden Moments is a collection of memories, dreams and imagined scenarios that simply bring me joy,’ Lucy explains.
‘I love watching movement in the landscape and I’m trying to capture this in my paintings at the moment. The way water moves in a shallow river or tides pull around a sandbar, clouds in the wind or the way the long grass sways in the paddock.’
‘I hope my work brings people a sense of peace, maybe even gives them a feeling of nostalgia, so that they can look at one of my paintings and feel comforted if they need to.’
View and shop Lucy’s new online exhibition, Golden Moments, via Gallery Raye from tomorrow, Tuesday August 2.