Practitioner Focus: Lucy Hall

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m in my third year of Sketchbook Circle and can’t imagine life without it now! I am an Arts Leader and Arts and Literacy interventions teacher at a primary school near Brixton in South London. I work part time as a teacher and develop my own designs the rest of the time. Currently, I’m working on a series of digitally printed silk scarf designs.

What is your background in art?

It’s a complicated one!  Many years ago I completed a foundation course in art and design but I had very little confidence in myself and my abilities as an artist. When I was rejected by my chosen college to study fine art, I decided to change direction and ended up studying psychology and sociology.  I went on to work in documentary television for nearly a decade. This was an interesting and exciting career but I always felt that something was missing, that something being art.

I decided to re-train as a teacher for a number of reasons but, most importantly, it allowed me more flexibility to go on to study art and design.  During my NQT year, I did evening and weekend classes to build up a portfolio of work (not quite sure how I managed that!) and, to my great surprise, I was accepted by Central Saint Martins on to their M.A Textile Futures course.

There followed an exciting, very challenging and, at times, somewhat gruelling two years of intense study whilst also teaching part-time.  I graduated six years ago.

Tell us about your work

My current scarf designs combine abstract photography, mark making and illustration.  As they are produced digitally, I spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen. It is therefore a great joy to also spend time working in sketchbooks.  In these, I enjoy experimenting with collage and embroidery as well as painting and drawing. 

Where do you make your work?

In my bedroom…I do live in London, after all!  I have set up a mini studio there with desk, paper drawers and many, many rolls of paper and piles of fabric.  It’s my aim to earn enough money from my scarves to justify renting out a studio day!

What materials could you not live without?

Pencils and inks.  Embroidery threads.  Collage papers, (I have two drawers stuffed full of old postcards, pages ripped from magazines, children’s paintings etc. which I always go to as a starting point for my sketchbook work).  I also use Letraset a lot and enjoy searching on Ebay for unusual fonts!

Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

It’s not very original but nature is my big inspiration.  My final M.A work was a series of screens which attempted to recreate the effect of dappled light created by trees which I see when out walking in the countryside. My scarf designs are based on a series of photos I took in woods and which also try to capture the ever-changing effects of light and shade. I love drawing the irregular patterns found in nature too.

Working with younger children is very inspiring because of the way that they play with colour and make marks in such uninhibited ways. I also love children’s handwriting practice books for some reason and this tends to pop up in my art work fairly regularly.

How does your creative process work?

During my M.A, I found that my work became quite controlled and self-conscious.  Since then, I have worked hard to get back to creating in more playful and instinctive ways.  My new motto is a very simple one: ‘think less, do more’.  Being part of Sketchbook Circle has helped me hugely with this.

I have two quotes from Sketchbook Circle on my noticeboard.  One is, ‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.’ My creative process involves a constant battle to get into this state of mind, and sometimes I achieve it!

What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone new to the circle?

 The second quote on my noticeboard is from Andy Warhol who sums it all up for me; ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it is good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make more art.’