Wish you were here, a solo show by British artist Lucy Smallbone, opens on the 15th September at Fiumano Clase. Smallbone has created a series of works that provided an escape from the tumultuous and seemingly never-ending months of the ongoing global pandemic. In March 2020 she returned to her family home in the English countryside, a place filled with childhood memories and traces from her past.
During this time away from the buzz of her London studio Smallbone found herself thinking of the places she wished she could be and where she had been in the past. The images that recurred in her minds-eye were full of dappled light, swaying water and scent filled forests. Intriguing scenes, somewhere between fantasy and dystopia emerge from the canvas. Smallbone muses on what makes images and memories stick:
"I've tried to put this into my paintings by wondering how much I can evoke these thoughts in others. The influence of cinema and photography on these types of images also adds to this, as we are used to accessing them through a lens, mostly a rose tinted one."
- Lucy Smallbone, May 2021
"Lunch" marks the starting point for the majority of the works in this exhibition. The colour saturation in particular began to entice her during the first lockdown. Unable to spend time outdoors with friends and family she spent a great deal of time dreaming of her past holidays. Smallbone passed hours poring over old family photo albums and began to draw on and alter the images within until she formed new memories in her mind, half based on truth and half on an idealised fiction.
Until now Smallbone's practice has focused on landscape, her past and present surroundings, she has rarely included figures in her work. However recently, people have begun to wander into her paintings. Landscape and the world around her remain her subject matter but individuals have left their mark on them. As with memories, even once the figure has left the scene in your mind's eye, their presence remains as a trace. People change a place, whether they are still physically there or not.
"Riverboy", is a loose and gestural painting that gives us the viewer a glimpse of one of Smallbone's memories. All we can be actually sure of is that a figure is in a river surrounded by trees and lush undergrowth. The details are a little blurred, much like a memory. We do not know who this boy is or why he is there but he is a someone and he is here and now. This not a memory exclusive to the artist but one that could slip into many viewers reminiscences. She has created a painting that evokes a story, it drifts in and out of our minds, she is blurring our memories with her own. The anonymity of the figure and the generality of the landscape lay this memory open to us all.