Lily Rigby: Where Sky Meets Land
ONCA Gallery Brighton 3-11 November 2018

Publisher: ONCA Gallery Blog – 13 December 2018

Abstract art seems to be having a moment at present. Galleries are displaying works by established and up and coming artists as if abstraction in itself has something to say, divorced from any context, and as if the form itself is an act of artistic exploration. Many of the pieces are samey or feel produced with a fashion or a buyer at the fore. Abstraction, perhaps, should be questioning or create an impact on the viewer. What might be seen as a more traditional figurative art is reduced very much to the status of second-class citizen, offering chintzy glimpses into some realistically rendered landscape or portrait.

This brings me to Lily Rigby’s recent exhibition at ONCA Gallery, Brighton. Entitled “Where Sky Meets Land” the paintings offered a vision of abstraction more in keeping with the original questioning force of abstract art. This in part comes from the liminality of the paintings themselves. They are neither completely abstract, nor definitively figurative, but exist in a space between the two. Take for example Open Sea, which takes its inspiration from the landscape, but does so in a way where the emotional intensity and experience of the scene is foregrounded and the ‘realism’ of the scene is held back. The light in the picture emanates from the sky and from the part of the surface.

This tension – in some ways reminiscent of Turner, but with a contemporary twist – doesn’t only exist within the frame of the picture, but also the paragon- the light that both emanates from the painted surface, but also requires an external light-source to illuminate it – draws in the viewer. This is also a common feature with other paintings such as Misty Mountains, which displays the intensity of production through the removal and reapplication of the painted canvas, but also in the way that the final piece has been rendered so sensitively and emotionally. The framing of the painting adds to this effect. The space between the white frame and the edge of the canvas allows the drama of the creation to become visible and to show something of the process of the creation of the paintings. This is a bold move, as the temptation is often to erase the process of production from the finished piece.

This brings me back to the title, and in particular the ‘meeting’ that takes place. As a metaphor this infuses all of Lily’s work, contemplating ideas such as ‘where does the sky meet the earth?’, “where does abstraction meet figuration?” “Where does production meet final piece?” The impulse is to provide answers to these questions, but Lily’s work leaves these hanging, to be pondered by the viewer.

What is fascinating with this exhibition is how Lily is able to produce such accomplished work despite training as an illustrator. There is nothing of the brief-driven necessity, or the produced-to-order final outcome of illustration, but a sensitivity working in a medium not associated with illustration. Perhaps the experience of this training manifests itself in Lily’s discipline, painting in her studio in the evenings after she has finished work. Lily is already planning for an exhibition next year, although she is not yet sure what the focus of the exhibition will be. Whatever that is, it will certainly be inspiring, sensitive and challenging and an event not to be missed.

‘Where Sky Meets Land’ was exhibited at ONCA 3 – 11 November 2018. Lily Rigby is taking part in two residences in France and Cornwall next year. She will also be exhibiting her work at ONCA in November 2019 as her next major exhibition.



Publisher & Date: ONCA Gallery Blog
13 December 2018


Interview with Artist Lily Rigby

Publisher: No Grace Kelly – 11 October 2018

The blogosphere and Instagram are full of creative ‘content’, but have you ever thought about ditching the digital and picking up a paintbrush? I studied Fine Art and Photography at university, but alas, painting was never my forte. Still, that hasn’t stopped me appreciating art – you’ll see more about this in my upcoming New York blog – so I wanted to use this week’s post to shine a light on an artist I’m lucky enough to know personally. Her name is Lily Rigby and she has an exhibition starting next month! Read on to find out what keeps her inspired, and how painting helps her with feelings of anxiety.


When did you first pick up a paintbrush?
“I‘ve been creative from a young age, but really got into painting when I was at high school – every week I’d look forward to the next art class. I also attended an art class at the local University, which was amazing because we worked really big and could be really messy! I then went on to do an art foundation at Brighton College and ended up moving into Illustration at University of the West of England (UWE). I wanted to try something new and I thought it would be easier to find work as an illustrator – this meant that I didn’t paint for about three years.

“When I finished Uni I felt a bit lost. I felt very anxious almost all the time, and decided I needed to do something I loved, so I began painting again. Putting my energy into something I loved helped me to feel less anxious. I think it’s because, when I paint, all other thoughts leave my mind and it’s just me and the painting. Painting offers me a release and I think my paintings become an extension of me.

“I paint because it makes me happy but I also find it’s a great way to get everything out, sort of like going for a run. I’ve painted when I’m happy and I’ve painted through times of sadness and grief, where all of my emotions go onto the canvas. I think it’s amazing to be able to turn how you’re feeling into something physical. You can look at it afterwards and think ‘that’s me’.”

Who or what inspires your work?
“The landscape, the sea and the sky are my three biggest inspirations. I love how they change all the time and never get boring. I love going to the sea most in the winter – when it’s stormy and moody. Being so close to the sea is one of the best things about living in Brighton.

“Other artists are also a huge form of inspiration and I try to get to London as often as possible to see exhibitions.

“For my current work I’ve been looking through my art books. Joan Eardley and Hughie O’Donoghue are two that I keep flicking through for my current project – their paintings are amazing! And Anselm Kiefer will always have a place in my heart.”

Do you have an audience in mind when you create your work?
“I don’t think about this when I’m working, but I do think art can resonate with anyone, any age, from any background. I love seeing how people respond to my work and how the paintings make them feel; I think this is becoming a bigger part of my practice.

“I feel I still have a lot of avenues and audiences to explore. I would love to see my work in public spaces as I love working large scale, and this would introduce a wider audience to my work. It would also be great to have the opportunity to work with interior designers and boutique hotels.

“I’ve got an exciting collaboration coming in January 2019; it’s quite different and a whole new angle for my painting.”



If you were stuck on a desert island, which three items would you take with you?
“This is a really hard question! Probably my paints, a notebook to write in, and a few pieces of jewellery that are really special to me. I guess I’ll be painting naked in my jewellery!”

What’s your morning routine?
“My ideal morning routine (which I try to stick to as much as possible) is that I like to get up with about an hour and a half to get ready for the day.

“I try to spend 15 minutes doing yoga in my sitting room and usually have some herbal tea. Then I’ll shower and get dressed for work (I have a 9-5 job as a marketing assistant for a hair and beauty suppliers). I spend most evenings at my art studio so I like to start the day with a nice breakfast. I usually have porridge with almond milk, topped with nuts, frozen blueberries or raspberries and some seeds. My sister is an amazing chef and if I have time I’ll make her Paleo protein pancakes –so good!

“Beauty-wise, I wear tinted moisturiser with a bit of bronzer and some smudged pencil eyeliner on my upper eyelids with mascara, and I also use an eyebrow palette. I’m really lazy with my hair and just wear it down most days!”

Beauty fave you can’t live without?
“Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Dry Oil – I’m only on my first bottle and I don’t ever want to run out! It smells and feels amazing and it’s so nice to use after a hot bath. I also really love the crumbly Bubble Bars from Lush.”

What music do you listen to while you work?
“It changes all the time, depending what mood I’m in, but recently I’ve been listening to Bonobo, Mac Miller’s latest album and the Colors channel on YouTube.”

Tell me about your upcoming exhibition?
“It’s called where sky meets land and it’s at ONCA Gallery, Brighton from 3rdto 11thNovember. It’s my fourth solo exhibition, but my first in Brighton, so I’m really excited. The works focus on the meeting point of the sky and land and how this can be quite mysterious. They’re a combination of works inspired by the land and sea near me, as well as landscapes from my travels.

“I visited the Isle of Skye this summer and it was the most inspiring place I’ve ever been. The landscape there is so dramatic – I’m hoping the same feeling of the place will come across in my paintings.”


The exhibition opens Saturday 3rd of November. To find out more visit @lily_rigby or

Image Credit:


Publisher & Date: No Grace Kelly
11 October 2018


Brighton local Lily Rigby launches a very special solo show at ONCA gallery in November

Publisher: BN1 Magazine – 11 September 2018



The artist, who specialises in delicate oil paintings, heavily influenced by landscapes and the sea, creates such organic pieces of landscape art via a unique process, making her work something to be proud of. With every brush stroke, every layer of colour, comes a piece of her memory.
Having showcased her work at Bristol and throughout West Sussex, it feels only appropriate to display them close to where her influences stay strong. With paintings such as Brighton Sky and Sea Sky, her paintings will feel more at home than ever in this Brighton gallery.

Rigby prides herself on her love for the sea. Its importance to her and her work comes as no surprise, as a resident of Brighton. She reveals in one of her blogs on her website that “living so close to the sea is so inspiring”. Her paintings, renowned for their turbulent and chaotic skys, portray depth and ambiguity in the landscapes she has visited.

Her most recent show, LIMINAL LIGHT, was held at The Old Brewery Gallery during the Hungerford Arts Festival over the summer. Reviews said her work was “above the ordinary” and embraces semiabstraction. We expect the same connotations during her stay in the ONCA Gallery, and with new, unseen works on the agenda, there’s no room to disappoint.

The solo show has been a result of a crowdfunding campaign, and Rigby has told us that some gallery sales will be donated to Surfers Against Sewage. A charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life. So as you visit her new exhibition this coming November, not only will you be introduced to a local artist, but you will be helping Rigby give back to what has given her so much inspiration throughout her artistic career.

Check out her work on her website:
Image Credit:


Publisher & Date: BN1 Magazine
11 September 2018


Have You Seen The Light?

Young Brighton artist’s show opens pub’s new gallery space.

Lily Rigby: Liminal Light, in the Old Brewery Gallery at The Wheatsheaf Inn, Chilton Foliat, until August 18

Publisher: Newbury Weekly News – 12 July 2018

BRIGHTON-based artist Lily Rigby, who has family in the area, has an exhibition of paintings in the new gallery at The Wheatsheaf Inn at Chilton Foliat, the first show since the recent gallery launch.

The exhibition showcases her obsession with sea and sky. She is very much a painter in the landscape tradition, showing oils on board and canvas, but her approach, technique, strong sense of composition and ease with her medium lifts these paintings, all made this year, above the ordinary. They are works of power and drama, capturing roiling seas and mutable skies, with colour both a form and an emotional response to the subject matter. The artist has also hung wisely, not overcrowding the showing space and allowing each of the works to breathe.

Embracing semi-abstraction, she shows dramatic, atmospheric work in a saturated palette of deep blacks, inky blues, turquoises and greens. Materiality is important, with paint thickly applied, whether in free, gestural strokes or in the thick surface texture of discrete, scumbled areas.

“…her approach, technique, strong sense of composition and ease with her medium lifts these paintings, all made this year, above the ordinary”

Rigby layers the paint, so it is sometimes translucent, sometimes opaque, areas of colour glimpsed beneath others, giving a sense of the ever-changing sky and restless sea. Light also shifts constantly, and as the artist strives to convey this protean quality in paint she adds an elusiveness to the paintings. These are mobile works, alive and vital. One always senses elemental forces. In Night Sea 1, the blue-black sky fills two-thirds of the painting, the foreground a passage of eddying seas crowned with white-brown foam. In Night Sea 2 there are hints of representation in the textured surfaces of turbulent, white-topped waves, and in the drips of falling paint in the foreground.

Distant Light has drama and emotion, surely controlled, with swathes of colour leading the eye to the fissure of light. Emotional power, too, in Edgeland and Light Shift, and Escape shows oils exploited for their sheer physicality, thick sweeps of colour indicative of the power of the natural world.

In Rise, the paint has been applied in a flatter way, so the work has become a composition of bands of horizontal colour; white-grey at the top giving the sense of daylight approaching, a deeply coloured centre section, and a dramatic bottom edge of dynamic spring green.

The gallery is a welcome new showing space, with a dedicated entrance at the rear of The Wheatsheaf. Lily Rigby’s show runs until the end of next month and can be viewed during the pub’s opening hours (Mon-Thurs: noon-3pm; 5.30pm-11.30pm); Friday: noon11.30pm; Saturday: 9.30am11.30pm; Sunday: noon-9.30pm).



Publisher & Date: Newbury Weekly News
12 July 2018


Lily Rigby

A passion for wild landscapes sees Lily Rigby creating mystical, deep and turbulent depictions of land and sea.

Publisher: Inside Artists – Spring 2018



Most often taking the form of large scale works in oil; her paintings are inspired by both the landscapes that surround her and those which have left permanent traces in her memory. Her practice sees her forming layers of paint on the canvas, scraping back and building up many times over to create depth and texture. This motion helps the artist to develop the journey of the work, and allows her to feel and reflect the mood and atmosphere of the place she is describing in paint.

Based in Brighton, UK, Rigby’s work has been exhibited in Bristol and across West Sussex. She is currently creating new work for a solo show in Brighton this November.


Publisher & Date: Inside Artists
Spring 2018


Local Person – Lily Rigby

Lily Rigby is a landscape painter and illustrator.

Publisher: West Hove Directory – January 2018

What do you like about living in West Hove?
Being so close to the sea is the best thing about living here. The sea and the sky are always changing giving you something new to paint or draw every day. I don’t think the novelty of living this close to the sea will ever wear off! It is also great being able to walk or cycle along the sea front to Brighton, especially in the summer.

Tell us about your art…
I create work inspired by my surroundings, places I have visited and photographs I have taken. My work reveals my passion for the landscape often in its most turbulent state – wild, mystical and aweinspiring. I often begin a piece by taking my sketchbook to a location (at the moment the beach) where I work with oil sticks on paper. I will also take a couple of photos. I then take these drawings and photos to my studio and create large-scale oil paintings on canvas. It can take quite a while for a painting to develop and I like to work on a few pieces at once.

Do you do any landscape paintings of West Hove?
Yes, the pieces I am currently working on are inspired by the sea and skyline of West Hove beach.

Who are your favourite artists?
It is hard to pick! From a young age Anselm Kiefer has been a favourite. I am currently really inspired by Peter Doig’s work for his use of colour, which I am currently developing in my own practice. This Summer I went to the Basquiat Exhibition at The Barbican, which was amazing, he is another artist I have always loved.

Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
Yes, I will be having a solo show at ONCA Gallery in November as well as open studios at Rohdus Studios in Brighton this spring. I have launched a crowdfunding page to help me raise money for this for my solo show and I will be donating a portion of gallery sales to Surfers Against Sewage Charity.


Publisher & Date: West Hove Directory
January 2018