This week, we meet Nicola Lucy, a full-time hospital lab worker who creates digital art as a form of escapism from her chronic pain. Around 150 hours of careful work went into the piece she submitted for the Manchester Open, ‘Willow’, with each strand of fur drawn individually.
When did you first take up art? What’s your artistic background?
I first took up art when I was a child and noticed I had a knack for it during the beginning of secondary school. However, as a child that was interested in a career in science, after the age of 13 I had to put it to one side. At age 22, after finishing my neuroscience degree, I started to dive back in and now make art on the side of being a worker in a lab.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from many places. My piece in the Manchester Open was inspired simply by something that brought me joy, which made me want to immortalise that and share it. Sometimes inspiration comes from more meaningful places though. I’m currently working on a piece that highlights my experiences as somebody with an invisible disability. And honestly, sometimes I get inspired to create something purely because I think it’d look nice.
What do you think art brings to your life?
An escape from stress and my illnesses. I also love the feeling of happiness and accomplishment when I complete a piece, or as I’m seeing one come to life.
Which artist(s) do you admire?
I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Ark at the Manchester Art Fair 2019 and what I admired is that he was happy to share his knowledge of the techniques he uses. He seemed genuinely interested in encouraging and helping other artists and I think that’s a very respectable trait.
Tell us an interesting story about yourself & your work:
Even though scientists and artists are often stereotyped as very different people, once I started talking about my art at work I found that many lab workers use art as a way to de-stress. There’s now a small group of us that gather around and create art and crafts together during breaks and outside of work. It’s amazing seeing a group of people who all were educated in strict procedures, objectivity, and logic, gather together to let their imaginations run wild.
Our Manchester Open Exhibition 2020 runs from Sat 18 Jan until Sun 29 Mar.
This is the first region-wide exhibition of its type to welcome entries from people of any background and level of experience, including established professionals, new and emerging talent, enthusiastic amateurs and first-time artists.
Follow #mcropen2020 on all our platforms for sneak previews, artist Q&As and behind the scenes videos.