Lydia Blakeley

Present Tense

27 January – 28 April 2024


About the Artist

Lydia Blakeley’s (b. 1980, Bracknell, UK) lives and works in Yorkshire, UK. She obtained an MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2019, and completed her BA (Hons) Fine Art from Leeds College of Art in 2016. 

Her subject matter is the world around her, or rather the world translated through the screen of her phone or laptop. She constantly records or screenshots what interests her in the flux of visual imagery that she is surrounded by. Blakeley then uses that source material to make paintings that have a viewpoint that superficially might resemble her source material but on closer inspection interrogates questions around aspiration, commercialism and the artificiality of social media. Her subject matter ranges widely but is linked through the idea of what we are told we should aspire to. Perfect holidays, immaculate teeth, television shows of what constitutes hip food,  streetwear, the esoteric world of best-in-show pets. 

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 is slowed, perhaps even momentarily stilled, by the process of selection and the act of painting. Blakeley often close crops a particular part of the image that she is working from, and then starts with a pink underpainting. From there she makes a chalk pastel sketch on top of the underpainting, adds a wash of color, and then returns to work on details. 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 that is dispassionate, deadpan and cool.  

Blakeley’s solo exhibitions include: ‘Winners,’ Niru Ratnam, London, UK (2022); ‘The High Life,’ Southwark Park Galleries, London, UK (2022); and ‘Vocation,’ BLANK_, Leeds, UK (2021). Selected group exhibitions include: ‘New Sensations,’ Galerie Marguo, Paris, France (2023); ‘Stilled Images,’ Tube Gallery, Palma, Mallorca (2023); ‘The Cat Show,’ Mrs. Gallery, New York NY (2022); ‘Love is the Devil,’ Marlborough Gallery, London, UK (2022); ‘The Sky Above the Roof,’ Tabula Rasa, Beijing, China (2022); and ‘Great Women Artists,’ curated by Katy Hessel, Palazzo Monti, Brescia, Italy (2022).

On View in Somerset

‘Present Tense’ is on view through 28 April 2024.