Lucille Lewin has crammed many lifetimes into one. She grew up in the Western Cape before moving to Boston, USA, and then settled in London in 1972.
At an age when most people are retiring, she discovered a calling as a fine artist. She received a Masters degree from the Royal College of Arts in 2017, having won the Young Masters Maylis Grand Ceramics Prize. Now her pieces are in high demand.
We spoke to this Renaissance woman at her holiday home in Plettenberg Bay to discuss her latest life, just begun.
How did you discover your aptitude for ceramics?
One day I met a friend who was on her way to a ceramics class, so I gave her a lift. The minute I walked into the studio the smell of clay struck my heart. I did a diploma in Ceramics and Fine Art at London’s City Literary Institute in 2013 and after that went to the Royal College of Art, which was a wonderful experience.
What inspired your first major body of work, Alchemical Bodies?
It came out of a MA project. I was set to go to the Victoria & Albert Museum and interrogate a piece. I picked a pepper pot dating from 1740 that had collapsed and it was so beautiful. This led me to the 18th century alchemists who invented European porcelain. I was also influenced by microscopic photographs of the natural world by Karl Blossfeldt, early medical papers in the crystal rooms at London’s Science Museum and African folktales.
Did these ideas develop to influence your recent work, The Time Between Time?
Yes, it’s further contemplation on how we’re trashing the planet, and how technology and artificial intelligence have changed the world so much that we don’t know where we came from or where we’re going. My work is dark in its concept but white, pure and simple in its actuality, which gives it hope.
How has your artistic practice developed?
I start a new concept, I agonise over it and there’s a lot of planning, which tears me up, and then I go into making it. Each piece comprises several components, which are kept wet then joined together, then broken up and fired again. The process takes three months.
What does the future hold?
I want to be able to keep making art in my studios in London and the Cape, and never stop. I am bereft when I don’t have my hands in clay.
Here is some of Lucille’s work:
To find out more about the life and work of Lucille Lewin, pick up the March 2018 issue of House and Leisure.