Behind London Pigment
Lucy on set for short film about her work by documentary maker Zara Powell, 2021
Lucy Mayes (b. Birmingham, England 1991) is an artist and pigment maker working in London. Her work with pigments is manifest in three core activities; making pigments under the name ‘London Pigment’ for purchase, painting and giving workshops. This work uses urban waste stream materials to make recycled pigment as a way of narrating a modern lived experience. She previously studied at The Ruskin, Oxford University and The Royal College of Art where her interest in colour theory, pigment processing and paint making began.
Her practice is centred on the use of unusual, surprising or esoteric raw materials to make colour, as a way of documenting events or ‘happenings’ that she encounters. Verdigris made from copper wire stripped from burnt-out mopeds, soot and ash from park fires and construction rubble have all been used in her work to make new pigments. Using materials that have had previous use and human labour invested in them already gives waste stream pigments complex meaning.
Through her work she hopes to communicate how she navigates the complexities of the hierarchy of materials. She loves collecting earth colours around where she lives and further a field in Britain but it is the transformation of banal waste materials that she finds most potent. The earth’s natural resources to make pigment (especially in relation to industrially made synthetic colours) are slowly depleting, and one way to help conserve these materials is to reuse and remake colour anew.
She hopes to expand London Pigment and make these recycled pigments available in larger quantities for more general use. Her work with British earth pigments has taken her all over Britain and her archive of historical British pigments is ever-growing.
She previously worked in the capacity of pigment consultant and product developer at renowned colourman L. Cornelissen & Son where she developed their historical pigment archive.
Studio Still Life, London, 2021