The #RWA162 Academician Candidates

Have you got acquainted with our #RWA162 Academician Candidates yet?

There work is on display in the Link Space and the Cube located on the Lower Ground Floor until 7 December.

The RWA can only ever have 150 full active Academicians at any one time, other Academician statuses such as Emeritus (retired) or Honorary (non elected) do not have such restrictions placed on them. Every year a number of artists are put forward to be considered for Academician Status at the time of the RWA Annual Open Exhibition. The RWA normally elects two or three new members each year, but this number is variable and it is possible that in any given year no new members are elected. The new Academicians are voted for by their peers the current Academicians.

Meet the Candidates:

Lucy Austin

My work is about drawing. In twenty years of development I have experimented with drawings, which have been room-filled sculptural installations made from paper such as Straw Towers (2001) and very large amounts of collected material such as The Carbon Sea (2003-6). I now find that making painting has released me from the boundaries of gravity and materials because I can paint whatever I want and the image will not
fall over.


Converse, watercolour on paper


Stack, watercolour on paper

I make imaginary pictures inspired by what I see around me. The drawings have their own internal logic and are entirely made up. I work in watercolour on paper, make prints, (etchings, using aquatint and sugar-lift) and I make painted books.

I analyse what I see using drawing as my thinking method. I boil objects and structures down to their essence. I don’t make straightforward pictures of objects, I can use a camera for that. I might begin that way in my sketchbook, but these stay in the sketchbook and I use them as beginnings for the imaginative work to grow.

My recent series Tender Machines was inspired by two different places. One was the Museum of Rural Life in Glastonbury and the other was Cumberland Basin in Bristol.

I went to both places and looked, made drawings in my sketchbook and took lots of photographs. I was inspired by the structures I saw there such as old agricultural machinery. At the time I was thinking about TS Eliot’s poem The Wasteland. The name for the series came from the inspiration of machinery, and the word tender is about the way they are painted, because the paint is used wet into wet and blurred with the colour literally bleeding from one into another, making soft edges with occasional blooms of colour.

I use these objects as metaphors for the body, its joints, moving parts, its different processes of digestion and also it’s curious behaviours such as transmitting, receiving, full or empty, and the processing of emotions. Each Tender Machine appears to be an individual character-full ‘personage’, (after Miro); some are funny, some are relentless, some are at a loss, all are different and separate.

The colour I use in the series is very particular. The range is limited and it has the effect of linking the series together visually very clearly. I have also played with the transparency of the watercolour paint with the opaque qualities of gouache, which behaves differently as it is thicker and contains Gum Arabic.

The work has relationships and conversations between the ‘personages’. Sometimes the works are placed in groups like Pylon and Jelly, where each drawing is separate from the other. Now I’m working on drawings, which have several ‘personages’ in each picture, which seem to be like a strange still life. This has led me to look at paintings by Morandi and Cezanne again.

Sometimes the drawings appear wobbly, vulnerable and spongy, like they might not be able to stand up. I think this is brave of them, presenting themselves in this way because they appear somewhat incorrect technically. I think they are about something emotional and childlike, hopefully there is a rawness captured there which an immaculate technical drawing cannot hold.

In this way the drawings communicate a feeling, which is about something tender and something emotional concerning the human condition.


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