“Painting is a slow medium, and for me, it’s all trial and error; it’s not always easy but I enjoy the struggle,” says British artist Lydia Blakeley. Drawn in by its reflective process and means of distilling a moment in time, Lydia paints with utmost contemplation. Having achieved an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths last year and completed a BA in Fine Art from Leeds College of Art, she has since exhibited at various solo shows in London predominantly and across the UK, with work featured in Elephant, Garageland magazine and Creative Boom – she was also the cover star of Elephant’s most recent printed issue. How she got here, however, wasn’t a simple path.
“My upbringing wasn’t especially creative,” she goes on to tell It’s Nice That. Post-sixth form, she experienced an “off the rails” moment in her teens and ended up working in pubs, shortly followed by a career in retail for over a decade. She continuously took part in creative courses and evening classes on the side, which became beneficial when she decided to pursue further studies. “I came into art quite late on,” she says, “and it wasn’t until I was 33 years old that I went to university; I just reached a moment in my career that it felt right to return to education.” Resultantly she garnered an in-depth knowledge of her medium and things really started to take off. “My path has not been straightforward, but things rarely are!”
Now, Lydia paints scenes of popular culture – more specifically, those found in Crufts, Royal Ascot and the drunken debauchery of the British racecourse. Snapshot-like in style and drawing on aspects of photorealism, her work observes the usual antics of the Brits, where narcissism, celebration and, of course, a healthy dose of competitiveness takes centre stage – inspired wholeheartedly by the daily events of her surroundings. “I’m constantly aware of and recording the world around me,” she says, attained through means of taking photographs, videoing and taking screenshots, or even by physically ripping out pages from magazines or papers. “The beauty of it is that I can react to something that inspires me from out of the blue or I can return to something years after I first found it,” she adds.