Interview With Artist Lily Rigby

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



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 3rd to 11th November. 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
Photos by Charisse Kenion
Visit Charisse Kenion website