Lydia Blakeley

Lydia Blakeley (b. 1980, Bracknell, UK) currently lives and works in Yorkshire, UK. Her subject matter is the world around her, or rather, the world translated through the screen of her phone camera or her laptop. She constantly records or screenshots what interests her in the flux of visual imagery that she is surrounded by and then uses that source material to make paintings that have a viewpoint that might be described as being grounded in a very particular sense of British, or perhaps even English, cultural identity.

Blakeley’s process of making paintings of such seemingly disparate subject matter has an effect of filtering those subjects through a particular sensibility. The rapidness and overwhelming nature of visual culture are slowed, perhaps even momentarily stilled, by the process of selection and the act of painting. Something that might have been meant for the most transitory consumption is made into something else that will last far longer. There is an evenness to the surface of her paintings that results from the consistency of this technique but this process also brings out a certain evenness of gaze. Whilst there is a definite distance between the painter and the subject, Blakeley never satirises or does down her subject. Blakeley’s works pay homage to the different imagined communities and subcultures that make up contemporary Britain. The worlds of dog shows, horse racing, UK garage, middle-class aspirational cookery and millennial cat-meme fans all jostle up against each other providing a deadpan patchwork of what has made Britain become what it is.

Lydia Blakely completed her MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths in 2019 and her BFA with honours from Leeds College of Art in 2016. She was featured in the group exhibition Mixing it Up: Painting Today, at Hayward Gallery (London, 2021), a phenomenal institution exhibition that brought together 31 most significant contemporary painters in the UK. Her recent exhibitions include The Sky Above the Roof at Tabula Rasa Gallery (Beijing, 2022), The High Life, solo show at Southwark Park Galleries (London, 2022).