Sometimes it happens that pure passion finds the right way to be expressed in a unique form, and that is Lucy Hardcastle’s case. Her work makes you definitely believe in the infinite possibilities of textile design as a visual language. Lucy has an extreme sensitivity for colours, materials and textures that is nothing but fascinating, and so is the way in which she explains her creative process. The British designer has allowed us to enter her personal world and imaginary, full of inspiring feelings and also consciousness and maturity. Meet the young and talented textile artist and visual communicator Lucy.
First of all, can you roughly introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Lucy Hardcastle, I’m currently a freelance designer based in London with a background in printed textiles. My work is quite multidisciplinary – the mediums I tend to use include photography, set design and sculpture.
Tell us a bit about where you grew up. Was it a very creative and inspiring environment?
I was born and lived in South London until I was 8, and then spent a decade in Norfolk before I moved back to London for university. Both my parents have been or are in the creative industry but there was no expectation for me to be, although I'm sure it helped knowing that it was possible. Creating and making just turned out to be what I was good at because of how my brain’s wired. I did have an amazing art department at school though, which basically saved my life.
You have an incredible eye for vivid colours. Has colour a special meaning to you?
Colour does mean a lot to me, being trained in textiles it’s something you’re taught to have an eye and insight for, and be able to use it as a language. I do think of my work as a kind of Chromotherapy for the viewers and myself. It’s all about energy and mood – if I can’t describe something I’m trying to achieve in words, I tend to express it in colour first to help me pin down my ideas.
What inspires you the most?
If I'm honest, I usually get inspired by my own emotions and personal experiences. I'd really like to make a difference in how people view social issues such as mental health and women's rights. If I'm not personally affected by something I'm not going to have that passion to concentrate a whole project on it, and if there is an issue occurring that affects me but is a much bigger picture than just myself it feels impossible to leave it out. Whatever I'm feeling at the time does seep in to my work, I find it hard to not be openly emotional about what I'm creating, if that makes sense. It's definitely about making something positive from negative and allowing yourself that power.
Could you say there are continuous themes in your work? If so, which ones are they?
I think themes in my work include: hyper-reality, the human condition, a strong use of colour and visceral texture.
How do you conceive your projects?
Depending on what I'm inspired by, it may begin with a piece of writing or a documentary I watched, I normally begin by searching for imagery that reciprocates how I'm feeling to help me ground the aesthetic I'm trying to achieve. From there my work is generally a series of material experiments.
Can you tell us about the materials you use and about the important role they play in your work?
In a way the materials I use are my work. They translate everything for me. I'm obsessed with anything that's somewhat familiar but has been put in a different context, or been altered so it's something abstract. A piece of my work can be as straight forward as feeling a specific emotion – for example, my graduate work as an emotion to me was online feminine solitude, and working out how that can be represented as a texture, e.g. cold smooth neoprenes, plasters and mottled plastics.
Do you see yourself working in fashion?
I enjoy doing commissions in relation to the fashion industry but I've had enough experience to know it's not where I ultimately want to spend the majority of my career. I see my work in more of an interiors or spatial installation context, I really want to do things on a huge scale, like what Pipilotti Rist or Anish Kapoor do.
In the end, isn’t it all about communicating a visual concept? Would you describe yourself more as a visual communicator or as a designer?
Yes it is, I like to think I can wear both hats. I do see myself as a visual artist if I'm putting it simplistically, I enjoy doing projects where my role is being a visual communicator, like someone giving me a piece of music and asking for an image to represent it. I find that really fun, anything where I can let my imagination do most of the work.
Do you apply your aesthetic sensitivity to any other kind of form of expression?
Well, I always want to do everything but I'm trying to not branch out too much so that I maintain a clear design identity to my work. I've been meaning to get back in to drawing for a while and I'd really like to do more with music. I've always wanted to have a culinary blog where I make plates of food that are more like art using everyday foods but making them into unrecognisable forms.
Why did you choose digital printing?
I think I initially chose it just because of the possibilities and the instant gratification it gives you as a process, and it is generally better for the environment too.
What’s your opinion about the environmental impact of textiles?
I think everyone has a part to play when it comes to the environment, it's hard because I feel like if we genuinely cared about present environmental issues, the textile industry as we know it would probably not exist. We'd all be dyeing non-synthetic fabrics at home with vegetable scraps.
As an artist, what do you aim to communicate through your work and your visual language?
I believe I aim to communicate and relate to others, especially women on a level that's not possible through words. I think my visual language represents how myself and peers of my own generation are feeling about the state of our own environment. I think my generation wants to get lost in their own art.
And what does the future hold for you?
I have a few things coming out in the near future, I'd love to do more freelance work that gives me creative freedom. I'd like to get a bigger studio and just get on with doing what I love. I'll also be starting at The Royal College of Art for my Masters in September.