Sunday Times – Going against the grain

Published 17 March 2019 in the Sunday Times

One of my favourite things about working on Neighbourhood is learning about cool people doing cool things and making our country proud. A case in point is Lillian Gray, a local contemporary artist who has just returned from London, where she was the only South African artist to exhibit her work alongside artists from all over the globe at the Parallax Art Fair held in Chelsea in February.

As an artist, she has always placed a high value on being a global citizen, dedicated to the wellbeing of the planet and all its ethnicities and cultures. She is renowned for her contemporary portraiture executed in contrasting colours, using a subdued palette with bursts of exciting colour combinations. Her work has been internationally recognised by prestigious art authorities and this past exhibition is one of three Lillian has agreed to participate in this year. *In April, she will be travelling to New York,* for her first solo exhibition and later this year she can be found at the Florence Biennale in Italy. She describes her process as being physical and expressive, drawing from raw emotion. She comments, “Everything comes together – my personality, skills and values and inspiration. Abright feast for the eye explodes on canvas – bold yellows, oranges, pinks and purples collide and combine into haunting faces.” Lillian draws inspiration from a variety of sources. Qualities which she values and which appear throughout her work are themes of identity, the value of relationships, and people’s personal stories. Because Lillian’s workspace is such an important part of her professional and personal life, we asked her to tell us a bit more about it.

*Q: How long have you been in that space?*
A: My husband and I purchased it in 2015. It was far from perfect; in fact,
it was horrid – old, dark and derelict. It was soon after I became a full-time artist that I presented my husband with the vision I had in mind. The property has a semi-detached cottage which we converted into my studio and later the art school. For a long time, we stayed in one room as we tackled the renovation project. We completely remodelled the home, both interior and exterior. It was a massive undertaking, but today we love our home. It’s open, welcoming and such a creative space.

*Q: Tell us more about the art school.*
A: Our art studio is a lovely stimulating environment, a safe space to be creative that nurtures individuality. We o er tailor-made art education. We adjust our lessons according to your level and interests while providing a solid foundation for you to become proficient as a private, professional or non-commercial artist. Whether you wish to further your artistic career,
excite your creative mind, socialise or just unwind, we celebrate your enthusiasm. We are suited for the beginner student as well as the advanced art student.

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