OMNIA XLIV. Lancaster University Fine Art Degree Show.

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Omnia is Latin for ‘all’ or ‘everything’, and implies collectivity and diversity all at the same time – best representing us as a body of  44 young artists, and refers to the increasing ability of art to adopt many forms in many places. The works exhibited in this show are a result of 3 years hard work and a culmination of our achievements made whilst studying at Lancaster University.

With the degree show on Tuesday 14th June, I have spent the last week painting and redecorating my exhibition space ready to hang my work. I had originally planned to frame my paintings however, once I started playing around with ideas in my space I realised the immense impact their rugged edges had. The expressive nature of the works needed the white space around them to explode beyond the typical displaying method, to fully emphasise the impact the environment had on me whilst painting them.

The tiny works amongst such a large space is something which forces the audience to question our full human impact upon the environment. Individually our impacts may be small, but as a collective humans have the power to change nature and the landscape we see before us forever.

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In the Light of the Storm

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In the Light of the Storm. 2016. Lucy Micklefield. Mixed Media.

When looking at nature, one cannot see beyond its destruction at the hands of humans. Earth’s ecological balance has been ruthlessly compromised, and phenomena such as global warming and environmental degradation affect every inch of the planet. Technological, economic and political developments over the last one hundred years have caused humans to become the greatest driving force of both ecological and geological processes, with consequences affecting not only nature, but humankind itself.

The Anthropocene, combining ‘anthropo’, meaning human, with ‘cene’, the suffix for ‘epoch’ in a geological time period, became an environmental aphorism since the atmospheric chemist and Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen popularized it in 2000. The geological term can be viewed as a continuum of the way humans have gradually, over a prolonged period of time, moved beyond their dependence on the environment to develop, shape and even master Nature through various activities. Through our manipulation and shaping, we have placed Nature at the disposal of the empowered human being. The Anthropocene reveals the unstable relationship between the environment and humans, making explicit the continuity and systematic connection between society and the environment in which it operates.

In the current rise of environmental consciousness, my work reacts to the concept that human actions, no longer natural processes, primarily determine our environment. Through pushing the boundaries of contemporary landscape painting, vigorously constructed and vividly coloured, my paintings employ a visual language which address the issues relating predominantly to human impacts on the Yorkshire landscape.

The Passing of a Storm

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The Passing of a Storm. 2016. Lucy Micklefield. Mixed Media.

Inspired by David Tress: his robust and exciting application of paint, and Turner: his attention to the ways in which light affects the landscape, I have almost completed my series of degree show paintings.

I have used ripped paper layered sand, dust, straw and bailing twine collected from across the Yorkshire Dales. This medium allows my work to become visceral in quality, as it is extremely malleable and allows for the pieces to be continually adapted in the studio. My aim is for my paintings to evoke the physical excitement and experience I felt whilst sketching and exploring new locations.

Final Term Progress

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My final term at Lancaster University is coming to an end, with the degree show only 3 weeks away! I am continuing to develop my paintings, and have learnt how to make my own frames.

My paintings which are working best incorporate materials I have retrieved from visiting different locations, including straw, sand and string. However, the most successful paintings are vibrant and expressive without letting the textures take over the piece.

Light on the Hillside

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Light on the Hillside. 2016. Lucy Micklefield. Mixed Media. 

“To select, combine and concentrate that which is beautiful in nature and admirable in art is as much the business of the landscape painter in his line as in the other departments of art.”  (J. M. W. Turner)

My passion for painting landscapes stems to my admiration of the beauty of nature. Turner, also known as ‘the painter of light’ was increasingly interested in the essence of brilliant colour, seen as the main constituent in both his landscape and seascape paintings. In his later years, Turner used oil paints to evoke pure light by use of shimmering colour, as seen in his painting ‘Rain, Steam and Speed, The Great Western Railway, 1844.’

In my current series of paintings I take influence from the mature style of Turner to create expressive movement of light and capture the feelings of nature, such as wind and rain. I aim to apply paint quickly using rapid movement to capture the experience I felt visiting locations across Yorkshire and the Lake District. Although my style and Turners technique may not be visually similar, I continue his aims to develop a discipline which captures the greatness and power of nature and landscapes.

‘Wind on the Hills’, mixed media on paper, 2016

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This is my final term on my Fine Art degree course at Lancaster University. I aim to approach these last few weeks before the degree show with great enthusiasm, developing all the skills and knowledge I have learnt during the past three years here. It was clear at the end of last term that my most successful pieces are those I enjoy painting most: this being expressionist landscape paintings! I am really enjoying this term so far, and am making the  most of my studio space!

Presentation

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The presentation of my painting series was particularly important. Alongside each painting is a postcard which forces the audience to question the impact humans have on our landscape: from the burning of heather to the shooting of grouse. Each one reflects an aspect of the North Yorkshire moorland which has influenced myself as an artist.

This term has forced me to reflect on my interests as a young artist from the north of England. I have questioned what it is about painting which really interests me, and that recurring theme is texture. To be able to combine my love for textural work alongside my interests in the environment I have grown up in has been really enjoyable.

My aims for the degree show at this point will be to continue exploring the impacts of human on the environment, whilst allowing my painting technique to become slightly more expressive, as in my developmental pieces.

Developmental Work

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Alongside presenting my moorland series, I have selected some of my paintings which helped develop my work. I initially created small studies of Anselm Kiefers’ paintings to explore different methods of creating texture, and similarly, analysed Ray Atkins painting technique using a palette knife. The top paintings are studies of woodland which used a combination of painterly techniques. I really enjoyed the dabbled effect created, and by splitting the paintings in half creates an extra dynamic and interest.