I must have been ten years old when I first encountered a painting by Lucy Pratt. The memory now is hazy, but I can recall fishing boats dragged up on the beach, gently listing on their sides, there are children scampering between them, a dog perhaps, white stone cottages and beyond an idyllic bay, the cerulean blue of the sea melting into the pale cornflower sky… ‘Under the Big Blue Canopy’ is Lucy’s sixth one woman show at the Fosse, an enduring relationship built on friendship and a shared artistic conviction. There are plenty of familiar friends and places and all the things we have come to love about Lucy’s painting but there are also new horizons and characters for us to revel in. Lucy’s panoramas of Rhoscolyn on Anglesey are startlingly bold and ambitious, with sweeping vistas bathed in brilliant blue and punctuated by little sail boats, dancing over white capped waves. Closer to home we meander with Lucy down hot Cotswold lanes, hedgerows bursting with flowers, the roads flanked by bucolic hills and rolling fields. We also see these same lanes in different seasons, Lucy’s palette turning from autumnal notes to a paler wintry tone. All of Lucy’s landscapes are bathed in wonderful light and practically reverberate with colour.
There is a harmony and balance to her compositions with as much attention paid to the skyscape as to the countryside or sea below. I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting Lucy at home and together we spent time in her studio, flicking through stacks of canvases and propping them on easels and tables. I was struck by the sheer variety of her work and this exhibition represents new artistic ground and ever-expanding boundaries. Dudley and the Runners is a fabulously sophisticated composition, carefully built with striking angles to create a dynamic and joyful picture. There are also a number of still lifes, which are carefully composed and arranged. These have a subtler more delicate tone and a chalky palette which is in the wonderful tradition of British still life painting and redolent of Christopher Wood or Winifred Nicholson. Lucy has added new strings to her bow and is a more complete artist as a consequence Lucy imbues each painting with her wonderful spirit and individuality which bursts off the canvas and it is impossible not to be moved by her work. Her painting is joyful and life-affirming. She captures all of life’s wonders and joys, played out for us under the big blue sky.
Specialist, British Art
Not the most arrant miserablist could be uncheered in front of a painting by Lucy Pratt. A real warmth comes off her canvases—they are jubilant works. It is not just those that deal with holiday sun on sea or snow, or vibrant herbaceous borders, her autumnal and winter scenes with sheep bundled together in misty fields have the same quality.
There is a deceptive innocence about them. They may look as if paint has been dashed onto canvas at top speed in a burst of naive (or rather, naïf, to be arty) enthusiasm, but the more one looks the more evident it becomes that time and thought have created these images. Rather than being produced in one inspired session, they have sometimes evolved over months, being left awhile and returned to as it becomes evident to Lucy what the final form should be.
Her compositions are designed with care and precision, and they are often far more complex than might appear on a casual first viewing. In this show, for instance, look at the coastal view with Thurlstone Rock. Lucy often likes to lead us into a painting by framing a bright scene with, darker verticals, perhaps trees, thus giving depth, and in this painting the same effect is achieved by receding horizontal bars of dark: the cow parsley fringe, then the near cliffs and the Rock, and finally the bulk of Bolt Tail stretched across the glow of the setting sun. For once, the scene is uninhabited, but we sense the presence of the people who have recently left the sands. It truly captures the warm, gentle, melancholy at the end of a happy day.
Less obviously, the sheep and wildflowers in the foreground of Mill at Compton Wynyates perform the same function, carrying us up to the subject. Of course, in some compositions there is no need for this. In Magical March the long lane winding ahead invites us to step into the exhilaration of early spring. Her work gives a sense of movement, even when a still moment is shown. In What’s Cooking—Dudley and Cuthbert the diagonal from dog to bird creates an impression in the mind that the scene will burst into movement in a second’s time.
‘All Around Me’ is Lucy’s fifth one-man show at the Fosse, and just because its predecessors enjoyed great popular success, one need not fear that it is simply more of the same. Familiar and favourite subjects and themes are here—Cornwall, Devon, the Isle of Wight of course—but there are also new settings, many close to home in the Cotswolds, and, to my mind at least, there is a growing strength in the work. Without being in any way backward-looking, Lucy’s cows, horses and sheep in fields and orchards have something of the freshness of the plein-air painters around the turn of the 20th century—Munnings even. And then those magnificently blooming borders with their poppies, irises and red-hot-pokers. Absolutely not naive, as I said earlier, but perhaps there is a nod of homage in them to Le Douanier Rousseau, a painter whom I know Lucy admires.
Author and Arts Correspondent for Country Life
The Oldie and The Times 2016
When I first met the artist Lucy Pratt about 16 years ago she was already a success story. For this “Girl Wonder” with much aplomb, had conquered the Cotswold art scene exhibiting with the John Davies Gallery and most notably was having regular sell out solo exhibitions with the Ainscough Gallery in London. I was still Girl Friday here at the Fosse just in the middle of my apprenticeship so to speak, but Lucy, never one to stand still, had seized every opportunity and was well up and running.
Through travel in the early days to India, Nepal and Thailand she sought her inspiration, but it was only on her return to the UK that I feel Pratt really began to define and hone her subject with distinctive, painterly style. Devon, Cornwall and Cadgwith in particular, places and communities so embedded in her from time well spent as a child through to adulthood poured out and her enduring motifs we have come to recognise and love, were realised.
Lucy’s world on canvas is uncomplicated and we gaze through a Technicolor lens. The sun is shining, there is laughter, we take pleasure in the moment and feel the artist’s gregarious and positive nature emanate; for she is beautiful through and through. But don’t be fooled Pratt is not seducing us either, taking us down the garden path of fluffy confection. Her message is defined and packs a punch, one we need to keep reminding ourselves of especially in today’s world… how lucky we are and isn’t it good to be alive?
‘Fun on the Riviera’s’ is time well spent in the glamorous Portofino on the Italian Riviera and time well spent this summer on the equally glamorous English Riviera. These paintings express all that we enjoy and love about Lucy’s paintings.
‘This fourth one man show at the Fosse Gallery was already firmly formulated in my mind from the outset. I wanted to indulge in the pure delight of being outdoors and the gratification it brings. There is very little that I find as satisfying as being out with my bag of paints and a canvas on the hunt for subjects matter. The places I have chosen are firm favourites and with the repetition of revisiting them only continues to reaffirm my fascination and wonder in somewhere so beautiful. I would be quite content to go back day after day and be challenged a fresh to put down something of what is so stimulating to me’ Lucy adds.
With singular determination and incredible energy, often painting well into the night especially when Tom and Zuzu were small, Lucy like so many formidable women artists before her and also of this generation has succeeded to combine motherhood with a flourishing career. Her paintings are in private collections all over the world. She has been selected and hung in the RA Summer Exhibition many times and is now represented in Mayfair as well as Stow on the Wold —proof enough that her particular and joyous vision of life will endure. The Fosse brought us together all those years ago and now I can say that we have both realised the dream!
Time spent with Lucy Pratt and her work is always time well spent – energising and enjoyable, but most of all, fun. At a tough time this exhibition celebrates good times. Her third one woman show at the Fosse Gallery demonstrates a new confidence in exploring the many aspects of a life lived to the maximum. Lucy’s passions are all there, the things she enjoys and likes painting the most: good food and wine, allotments, the sea, skiing, children, animals, naughtiness and the landscapes in which she chooses to live and work. And the subtext throughout is a wry, humorous take on life which mirrors her own: crammed with adventures, travel, people and places. All are here – at first in a higgledy-piggledy conglomeration of themes and images, but the more you look and learn about her work, the more you understand and smile. Every painting is utterly accessible and reflective of the theme. The show’s title reminds us that these images are of all the things Lucy believes enhance her life and make living worthwhile.
Her zest for life is contagious as her growing number of collectors confirms and these latest paintings will enhance any wall, any home, any life and bring delight for years.
Building on her previous shows at Fosse, in London and Devon and two outings at the Royal Academy’s Summer Show, this one has an assuredness to the depth of colour, carefully layered; to the vibrancy of light, sun shafting through to illuminate every corner; to the movement and busyness of the figures and creatures captured which is uplifting and life-enhancing. Informed by time lived in India, in Thailand, many summers by the sea in Cornwall, there is a new maturity to these canvasses which show how every experience has been stored and used to inform this latest work.
Working tirelessly in her Chipping Norton studio, Lucy’s energy drives her to explore new topics and styles. At the core of everything she produces is a joyful enthusiasm which is utterly infectious.
Lucy Pratt may dwell inland, but her irresistible attraction to water, mostly saline, finds her and her motif engaged somewhere on Britain’s littoral.
In her last work, apart from a still-life or two and an interior with figures, we travel from Tresco to Devon, to Sussex and over to Wales.
I like to feel that with Lucy Pratt’s work the location is not over important. Her subject matter composed in the timeless tradition takes us into the universality of teeming life; on a journey of personal observation, through little tongues of path finding paint, flicking out before us.
Brighton! I like that series of eight or so pieces. Here is the quiet esplanade, the seaside blue railings, the distinct, delightfully calligraphed characters accompanied by a pair of canine accessories. Lucy Pratt manages the elongated panoramas with consummate aplomb surge with small but precise actions the viewers’ eyes whizz in and out, zigzagging with delight to the next ‘what are they up to?’ – moment.
The pier paintings come as a small series. Here she has constructed powerful settings through which windblown, flimsy folk hold on.
Mostly, Pratt takes us to a world of the slow life in high summer where children bomb and splash fearlessly into sea or lido. Even if it drizzles on the pier the union flags raise a damp flutter and gulls are held on the lazy updrafts.
Then there are bays strewn with cottages, tranquil havens, reclaimed after daily incomers have been swept out on the ebb. Though I see Lucy Pratt’s work as stories in paint, they do not prate, nor seek to elucidate more than the bare bones. I like that. It suggests that she is nipping along nicely but keeping some distance from the purely illustrational. Her work, as seen to good effect in the last two years Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions, swashes and buckles. Lucy Pratt is moving well towards future motifs.
As Auguste Renoir believed –
‘we are but corks bobbing along on the sea of life.‘
Mick Rooney RA
I have met Lucy Pratt on three occasions. First at the Fosse Gallery and twice at her studio to view this collection of paintings in the exhibition. On arriving I was immediately aware I was in the presence of someone has an enormous zest for life. Almost as if there was no moment to lose. As I stood I was surrounded by images of pure happiness and joy. Whether it was painting of a wedding, a few boats pulled up on the beach or a harbour scene – even winter scene with skaters – they were all full of people going about their everyday lives, children playing – everyone enjoying themselves. All are images that caught the eye of the artist and have been recorded as moment of pure pleasure and delight. Her palette and fervour with which Lucy has applied herself to each painting shows a person whose cup of life is always more than half full and has the total ability to transpose those feelings onto canvas in a direct and uncomplicated manner. Too often for the artist is it easy to overwork a painting and try and maximise its impact to the viewer. Here the artist has done just enough to capture and complete her statement and to give it the high impact it was designed to have.
A generous application of paint with bright summery colours convey the pure joy of each image and give work an almost sculptural effect, such is the strength of the work.It is interesting to note that in all Lucy’s works the images of people shown are constantly moving and enjoying themselves. Children playing, youngsters dancing, even the wedding shows slightly comical side. All however are showing that normal things in life are fun if only you approach it in the right way.