Invites Focus: Lucy Tomlins
Ahead of the imminent release of our new Invites Vol.2 publication, marking the milestone of 50 exhibitions since the series began in 2012, we’re delighted to share some exclusive material from our archives. Each fortnight we will be focussing on one Invites alumni, giving access to interviews, installation views, and links to recent and upcoming projects. Also check out the Zabludowicz Collection Instagram for some gems from artists’ back-catalogues and some behind-the-scenes work in progress.
Invites Focus: Lucy Tomlins, 1 – 21 June 2020
The material, process and concept are heavily intertwined and they seem to evolve together in a tangled knot. There seems to be about a 50:50 split between a material process and the concept it informs. Lucy Tomlins, Invites interview with Ellen Mara De Wachter, 10 May 2013
Lucy Tomlins (born Chertsey, UK) is a sculptor with a particular interest in the specifics of the medium and investigations that a spatial practice demand of materials and their context. She has made work from contemporary materials including plasticine, resin and aluminium, as well as traditional materials such as marble. By combining noble materials with synthetic ones, Tomlins creates a tension between the physical qualities and the subject of her works. Her work is laboured and considered both physically and conceptually.
Tomlins’ is the Founding Director of Community Interest Company Pangaea Sculptors' Centre and since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2012 has evolved a hybrid practice, running a creative matrix that includes making her own art alongside curating exhibitions, discursive or educational residencies and programmes, and overseeing fabrication for other artists. This sees her toggling between large scale collaboration and working solo, at the same time as solo parenting a young child. The blending of different strands of activity and understanding them all as essential parts of an artistic practice is a reality that will be familiar to most artists working today.
Tomlins’ Invites exhibition featured three main elements, a tiled sculpture that included a film of a butcher cutting meat and a neon strip light, a highly polished bronze of the skinned back legs of a lamb, and a large concrete and slate sculpture produced from a Stonemason’s workbench reworked by the artist.
A central aspect and theme of Tomlins’ Invites exhibition was contemporary culture's relationship with food and its visual form and representation. Appropriating the highly processed convenience aesthetic of fast food restaurants, kitchens and supermarkets, much of Tomlins' early work related to a consideration of the delineation of artistry from skill.
During her Invites Focus we will be showing Meat and Me, 2012, the centre piece of her Invites show and highlighting some of the work Tomlins has been developing recently.
As lockdown loomed she was on her way to India as part of a Coventry City of Culture / British Council research trip to work with the Kumartuli of North Kolkata. Kumartuli (Kumar = potters Tuli = locality) is an area of the city settled by clay artisans over 300 years ago. Today, around 150 families live there, earning a living by sculpting idols for the various Hindu festivals. Using the traditional method, clay is built up over straw armatures. The clay is baked in the sun but never fired and in so doing, the clay can be borrowed from the earth for the time it is needed before being submerged in the river and returned. It is the cyclical process of the material transformation and its potential as a sustainable approach to sculpture production that Tomlins’ was interested in understanding more. You can read more about her time in Kolkata on her recently completed BLOG. Lucy has also shared with us her travel playlist.
Tomlins’ recent work has also been considering the sustainably of our built environment and the political, social and environmental impact of urbanisation. In the ongoing development of her work-in-progress ‘Camp’ she has posed the questions: “Should buildings be made out materials designed to outlive their useful life? Should we return to traditional structures and techniques that are low cost but labour intensive with minimal environmental impact? How can we look to nature to lead innovation in the built environment?” This project also considers the connections between civic pride and protest as well as migration and the concept of home when one is homeless or stateless.
Often the sculptural forms that we see most often, be they monuments, shelters or trees are not the things that we spend time interrogating. Tomlins was both artist and co-ordinator of an exhibition and residency in Vall d’Alba, Spain in Summer 2019. Her contributions to the exhibition were Rag and Bone (2019), a vast silicone rubber skin, cast from an ancient olive tree in the town’s square, and Cornucopia, 2019, the stiff semi translucent exoskeleton that was used to create the silicone cast. The combination of the two forms and the traits of the materials they were created in transformed the process of the making into the art work itself. Tomlins draws attention not so much to the form of the tree, though this is utterly transfixing, but to the act and labour necessary in the process of mimesis. These ancient trees are both the industrial and economic underpinning of the area. You can download information on the PARC Residency and Exhibition featuring Katrin Hanusch, Àngels Miralda, Georgina Sleap & Lucy Tomlins from the right hand side of this page. Lucy has shared a number of stunning images of the making of her works from this show in the image gallery below.
I draw from the everyday, in part to encourage a re-looking or closer looking at the things we might take for granted. Lucy Tomlins, Invites interview with Ellen Mara De Wachter, 10 May 2013
Lucy Tomlins b. Chertsey, UK. Lives and works in Warwickshire.
Tomlins holds an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London, and a BA in Fine Art from the University of East London. Solo exhibitions and commissions include those at Art Collection, University of Warwick (2019), Sculpture at Bermondsey Square, Vitrine (2017), Bosse & Baum, London (2015) and Worcester Cathedral, Worcester (2013). Selected group shows include those at Museo etnológico, Castellón, Spain (2019); Mimosa House, London (2019); Chatsworth House, Derbyshire (2018); Galería de Arte Mexicano (GAM), Mexico City (2018); Zabludowicz Collection, London (2016); BayArt, Cardiff (2013) and the Royal British Society of Sculptors, London (2013). Tomlins is Director of Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre, UK.