An artist is quickly identifiable by the way that they present themselves to the world and how they interact with their surroundings.
This is definitely the case with fine artist Lucy Hardie who Makers had the pleasure of meeting recently over coffee at the Black Cat café; where the bohemian interior was a perfect match for the artist’s delicate aesthetic.
Based in Melbourne, Hardie tells us that she’s only recently returned to the city after time spent in nearby Ocean Grove. Although not such a long distance to travel, Ocean Grove and Brunswick Street couldn’t be further apart in terms of creative output and she confides that she’s happy to have settled into a more artistic neighbourhood.
Lucy: “When I was little I was inspired by the black and white line drawings that accompanied my favourite fairy tales.”
We’ve ordered drinks and Lucy has begun to explain her art: incredibly detailed compositions of light and dark texture created with layers of fine lines and dots, carefully drawn onto cotton-based paper. The resulting work is romantic and dreamy, with a strong emphasis on the female figure.
Lucy: “I was really inspired by the illustrative style of Vali Myers, who created the most finely detailed drawings. I taught myself to draw by looking at her work.”
Myer’s influence on Hardie’s work is striking, with both women working with pen, ink and gold leaf.
Although she has spent most of her life drawing, Lucy only started to seriously consider art as a career once she was in her early twenties
Lucy: “I always thought of myself as artistic but never thought of myself as creative, but I think that’s only because I never saw art as a realistic option to pursue while I was growing up. I think that’s because people say, ‘Artists don’t make money, what are you going to do with your life?’ I always thought, ‘why the hell am I good at drawing, why can’t I be good at maths’. I didn’t really see the point of it, it was always more of a hobby.”
It was around the age of 22 that the artist decided to make the push. It was her sister that called her out, questioning as to why someone with such a beautiful body of work hadn’t thought about exhibiting.
Knocked back by a few galleries, the self-taught artist found her work accepted in to an artist-run space, staged the exhibition and was astounded to sell out on opening night. It was all the reinforcement she needed that this could in fact be a viable career pathway – that hers was not a talent that ought be taken for granted.
In 2010 at the age of 26, Lucy returned to school to complete a Bachelor of illustration. Although there had been previous attempts to enroll in other courses, she states frankly that she “never really followed through”. The decision to return to University came about after a brief period spent in Austria under the tutelage of US artist, Philip Rubinov Jacobson.
Lucy: “We connected online because I’d asked him if he could recommend any courses to me, since I’m really interested in artistic technique, and that’s not really focussed on at Fine Art school, where it’s more about concept and philosophy. He suggested his course and I said, ‘done’. I was there for four weeks; it was an intense course and we were painting everyday. It was amazing to be surrounded only by artists, only talking about art. Before that I had always loved art, but it was only after I arrived in Austria that I realised that this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.”
With study well and truly behind her and the recent move back to Melbourne, Makers is intrigued to know what possible influence this may have on her future creative output.
Lucy: “I’m starting to bring in more structure with [pictures of] buildings and things like that. But I think my work will always have a feminine feel to it. On my trips to Melbourne I would go past these factories that just seemed like they were in a different world, areas with no roads around them that only the train goes past. You can see these tiny little buildings with ladders going up them and smoke coming out of turrets - I felt so inspired and took many photographs, they’re like world unto themselves."
It seems the fairy tale influence hasn’t left her completely.