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Lucy Hersey Creates Emotive Landscapes With Natural, Homemade Pigments!

Studio Visit

Artist Lucy Hersey’s serene landscape paintings immortalise regional Victoria’s natural world in more ways than one.

After being a scientific research assistant for almost a decade in her former career, Lucy now plays alchemist in her recently re-built South Gippsland studio to create her own pigments from natural materials!

1st August, 2022

Lucy Hersey outside her new studio in South Gippsland’s Loch Village! Photo – Karli Duckett

After nine years as a research assistant, Lucy has been painting full-time since 2020. Photo – Karli Duckett

Ghost gum by Lucy Hersey.

Lucy impressively creates her own natural pigments from botanicals, rocks and earth! ‘It’s a matter of hammering rocks, using the mortar and pestle, mixing the earth into pastes or washes with water, or using heat, and sometimes just time and liquid to steep the plant colours,’ she explains. Photo – Karli Duckett

Lucy creates her pigments from natural materials. Photo – Karli Duckett

‘My old studio was also terrific, but it was destroyed by those terrible storms last year,’ Lucy says. Photo – Karli Duckett

Artwork by Lucy Hersey.

‘I find the landscape around my home incredibly inspiring. I do heaps of driving, and just look at the hills and the sea, the trunks of gum trees, clouds and fog in the valleys, all of it ever changing. I’ll don’t think I’ll ever run out of things to paint.’ Photo – Karli Duckett

Undergrowth by Lucy Hersey.

Lucy brushing over one of her newest works. Photo – Karli Duckett

Hunting for pine mushrooms, Turtons Creek and Stargazing by Lucy Hersey. Photo – Karli Duckett

The new studio has extra celling height (room to swing bigger canvasses!) sweet little triangular windows in the pitch of the roof, a new lighting system and a heater!’ Lucy says. Photo – Karli Duckett

Lucy Hersey in her new studio! Photo – Karli Duckett

Christina Karras
Monday 1st August 2022

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.  

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net