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"I don’t think talking about what I’ve done would or should change someone’s reaction to my art"

Lucie Gray


London, UK

I meet Lucie on a spring morning in east London near to where she works. I was sweatily running 10 minutes late, she on the other hand lets me know straight away that she was early. As she sits fondling her espresso, she lets me into a secret that’s she’s always at least twenty minutes early for anything and has been known to wait 5 hours before a flight.

I apologise for keeping her waiting.. she nods her head. Dressed completely in black she’s a stark contrast to the vivid colours of her paintings. She finishes her coffee and orders another, just for herself. Lucie and I actually go way back but in recent years we’ve slightly lost touch and she seems different to how I remember. I remind her of our connection but I’m not entirely sure she remembers.

A raise of her eyebrow I take to be a sign to get the ball rolling…

So I start with why does Lucie paint?

I paint because It gives me autonomy. Lucie downs her second coffee and waves her hand wanting another question.

Do you like talking about your art?

I find it very hard talking about my art, I find it very bemusing having created something in the hope that it will resonate with people that I must then go on to explain what it is I wanted to say, for me it renders art a bit redundant. If my art resonates that’s great, if it doesn’t that’s also great but I don’t think talking about what I’ve done would or should change someone’s reaction to my art. I like being questioned or challenged and I enjoy thinking about how to progress my art but just explaining the ‘meaning’ behind a piece feels a bit phoney to me.

Well perhaps you might say what have you been thinking about recently?

Well perhaps I might… I have been thinking about collective grief, the age of accountability, the mothers of childhood best friends, internalised misogyny, skipping ropes and hula hoops.

Something about her urges me to ask a question we never ask … Are you lonely?

Yes. Lucie’s response is painfully quick. I’ve always found great comfort in being alone. I’ve always felt at home when isolated and I’m not very good at being in relation with others. Loneliness though is something different, it hurts and it hides and grinds you down. There’s no sense of solace in loneliness -it is active and it is destructive and it is scary.

Lucie smiles just like the way I remember her doing when we were younger- a broad toothy smile that takes over her entire face.

And finally, how would you like to be remembered?

As the lady who never stopped changing her name.

Leaving Lucie to order another coffee I head off with an odd feeling, she seems a confused mixture of egotism and insecurity. She mentioned to me earlier in the interview that she is constantly fascinated by people’s responses to the things she says I say things thinking they’ll see my melancholy but all I ever do is make them laugh- I’m a clown that takes herself far too seriously. She looks at me, a tear rolling down her cheek and she was right… all I could do was laugh.


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