Take a walk around the village of Staithes and what do you see?
A jumble of dwellings, towering cliffs, beautifully crafted fishing cobles huddled in the beck, steep-sided cliffs revealing secrets from the dawn of time, the sea, calm and blue or fierce with pounding waves, the ever-changing sky.
Lucy Wilson’s exquisitely made paintings take your eyes on just such a walk: over the rooftops to the nab beyond, out into the harbour and a line of brightly painted boats, up a slipway or down an alley to a row of cottages, fires already lit, chimneys smoking.
Each image leads seamlessly into the next – a slow meander giving the viewer time and space to take it all in.
Lucy moved to Staithes from her native Ilkley 20 years ago, although her love of the village goes back to her earliest memories.
“My parents bought a tiny cottage when I was just a year old,” she told the Whitby Gazette, “and we came here throughout my childhood.
“They were very happy times. We’d pile into the car: family, friends, pets … and head over the moors to Staithes.
“We went on walks, picnics, swimming and beachcombing.”
Was it a creative childhood?
“Absolutely,” says Lucy. “My parents drew, painted, sewed, made things … and they encouraged us to do the same.
“It was always fun, though, playful. My dad in particular taught me to experiment, not to worry about things going wrong, to enjoy creativity for its own sake.”
It proved a sound nurturing of a natural talent. Despite no formal training, Lucy is a highly accomplished artist with a keen eye for perspective and pictorial balance.
The images are drawn, and partly etched with a knife creating a strong definition and three-dimensional effect, onto wooden panels and then painted in acrylics. Lucy is very down to earth about her creative process and combining the roles of artist and mother.
“I work at the kitchen table when the children are at school … among the Shreddies!”
Staithes remains the main source of her inspiration.
“I love the natural beauty,” she says, “the quirky buildings, corners with deep shadows, bright sunny spots and dark alleyways. There’s so much crammed into it. It’s a huge place – a huge place inside a tiny place.”
Sauntering in Staithes and other paintings by Lucy Wilson is currently on view at Staithes Gallery.
Visit www.staithesgallery.co.uk to see more.
The gallery is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Other times can sometimes be arranged by appointment – contact the gallery on 01947 841840, 07972 012464 or email al@staithes gallery.co.uk