Featuring Manchester Artist Lily Greenwood
This afternoon’s article involves Manchester Illustrator and painter Lily Greenwood. Focussing more on the theme of nature, Lily creates wonderful colourful artwork in Manchester’s Craft and Design Centre. It’s a pleasure to feature Lily’s work today:
“I first came to Manchester in 2002 (by way of the North East and Cumbria), graduating from the ‘Interactive Arts’ degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2005. I mainly worked on children’s book illustration, but have always painted too, and it was the painting which I carried on with after graduation. I became a tenant at Manchester Craft & Design Centre in 2006 and continue to develop my practice there in combined studio and retail space, open to the public six days a week.
Nature is something which is common to all my work. I grew up in the countryside in Cumbria, and although I love living in Manchester, I also enjoy getting out of the city for walks whenever I can. My artwork certainly isn’t true to the gritty reality of nature – it’s more like focusing on an aspect of its beauty and running with it, seeing where it can be taken. I like to keep things simple, and to me that means trying to create something which people can hopefully take some pleasure and enjoyment from, and that is my aim with my paintings.
As I mentioned earlier I love book illustration, and I think the straight-forward purpose of illustration is something which has inspired me. Illustration is usually trying to show something as best it can, as opposed to artwork which achieves little more than confusing people, sometimes making people feel like they aren’t intelligent enough to ‘get it’ – illustration is not exclusive in that way, and that appeals to me. It is probably similar reasons which attract me to craft and design, and hence the Craft Centre – people utilising their skills to create things by hand, which people will take enjoyment from.
I love Japanese work, such as 18th century printmakers Hokusai and Hiroshige – something about the colours they use is very stylish. Kimono designs are also a big influence. When it comes down to it, an inspiration for me is anything I enjoy looking at, simple as it sounds; whether it be a painting, a book, a curtain, a leaf. A combination of these things along with imagination and experimentation results in the work I do.
I use my own paintings as collage material to create a canvas. I carefully paint birds, blossoms, and most predominantly, butterflies – and these paintings are reproduced and cut out by hand ready to be used on the canvas. I imagine collage would be thought of as a static medium, everything fixed in it’s place – however, by laying out the butterflies before fixing them it gives me much greater scope to arrange and rearrange compositions quickly, and hopefully add movement this way. The collage also gives a bit of relief and texture to the canvas. After applying washes of ink, and sometimes drawn details, I add a glossy varnish.
When I came to Manchester ten years ago it was simply because it offered the University course I wanted to do – I didn’t know the city at all. Since getting to know it I was more than happy to stay and try to start my business here. I’m not convinced I would be making a living solely from painting without having become a tenant at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, which was and is still perfect for a small creative business – affordable space in a vibrant area. The combination of studio and retail space is ideal as there is no wasted time. If the centre is busy, it is great that people will see and perhaps buy the work – and if it happens to be a quiet day, I am able to really get stuck into my work. I get instant feedback every day I work there, as people watch me do the paintings. I think for the customers too they appreciate not only knowing that something is from a small British business, but to see the table it is being made on, and chat to the person making it. There’s a buzz about the place, and there’s a lot of inspiring creative talent around.
At the moment I’m continuing to develop my work and business, which includes regular commissioned work, supplying my stockists (the most recent addition is the ‘Delicate Mayhem Gallery’ in Covent Garden), making work to stock my studio space, and trying to add to the range of work available to buy online. I’m also making developments in publishing with my work being on the books at the Art Group, who work with major companies such as Next and Tesco. It’s exciting when new opportunities crop up – I may be exhibiting in Barcelona later this year which will be the first time I have shown internationally. I consider myself extremely lucky to be painting for a living, and hope I’ll be able to continue for many years to come.”