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Take Four: Lucy Savage


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Published date
31 May 2017

With Show One: Art open and in full swing, we talk to exhibiting art students about their work and the inspirations behind it.

Lucy Savage, BA Fine Art, uses materials such as human hair in her practice to confront viewers not only with their own biology but also life lived within a body rather than digitally. Aiming to wake up, of even shock, our sensory experience of the world around Savage’s work is intriguing and repulsive in equal measure.

Here, Savage share four materials that intrigue her:

“The Isle of Man has a culture deeply embedded in working the land and sea, it’s my Manx heritage that connects me with raw, organic material. I’ve grown up in an environment where technology comes a firm second.

1. Animal Skins

There is beauty and brutality in the substance of animals. These beings have experienced both life and death, and the individual impacts of such transformations create a harmony within the work that both allures and repels the viewer.

I was lead into the back room of an abattoir by a Manx farmer to photograph animal skins while they lay in great piles on concrete slabs. Blood pooled around my feet as I watched them absorb mounds of granite salt. They were being preserved.

The hides were still performing after death, their material ability was still very much alive.

2. Fish Skins

What attracted me most to the matter of fish was their shimmering scales. I recall visiting the fishmongers with my mother as a child… we often selected our favourite specimens not to eat but rather to draw. Many years later I returned to the same fishmonger, this time for sculpture.

Lived materials demand methods of preservation. I regard these processes as elongating their lifespan. As I painted layers of resin and rubber onto the oily surface of fish skin I imagined the memory of their being encased and frozen within.

3. Horse Hair

Sourcing materials in their purest state isn’t straightforward. It’s important that these animals have lived happy and healthy lives. I visit the farms and fields on which they are raised to experience their quality of life first-hand. The process of gathering material becomes a part of the work.

I recently visited Pennybridge Stables where I had learnt to ride. An instructor introduced me to the retired horses so that I could collect hair straight from the mane. I took very little from each horse, but together I accumulated enough material to work with in the studio.

Every horse I approached continues to live healthy in wide open fields. I’m fascinated by the way their quality of life can be experienced through the elasticity of their hair.

I plaited annealed wire and bound it in horsehair from top to tail. Sprouting from the mouth of the structure are the deep, black hairs from a horse called Rupert. The sheer strength of Rupert’s mane can be seen where it’s fibres rise firmly into the air.

4. Human Hair

While exploring lived material I met many different tradesmen and eventually my focus moved from animal to human. My exploration of raw material had lead me to consider the human as a primal and animalistic being.

Over the past five months I have been collecting human hair from a variety of hairdressers in the King’s Cross area. I was this work to remind the viewer of their physical existence in a world where such a presence seems to be disappearing within the virtual vortex.

Degree Show One: Art is on show to the public at Central Saint Martins, 24-28 May with Degree Show Two: Design following 20-24 June.

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