Lucille Clerc
Artists & Illustrators|August 2021
From her communal London studio, this French illustrator is exploring the interaction between urbanisation and nature – and wants to take us along for the ride, as REBECCA BRADBURY discovers
REBECCA BRADBURY

You might think you’re familiar with the story of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, but you’re probably yet to experience Lucille Clerc’s fantastical interpretation, brought to life in her illustration of the same name. It’s a place where mythical creatures, tropical birds and larger-than-life plants awaken at night, transforming the V&A, for which it was drawn, into a garden like no other.

Dreamy, delicate and infinitely detailed, Lucille’s work combines the familiar with the out of this world and, as a result, dismantles our perceptions of reality. Think intricate depictions of buildings, butterflies, blooms and everything in-between, distorted in scale, kaleidoscopic in composition, and transfixing with an ethereal colour palette of soft pinks, dusky teals and emerald greens.

Then hidden beneath the surface, but just as interwoven, is the concept of time. As an antidote to today’s fast-paced news cycles and ever updated content streams, the illustrator places prime importance on the longevity of her work, adding a multitude of subjects into a single piece as a way to build up a relationship with the viewer.

“A lot of what we see right now are simplified images,” she says. “They are very quick, and they have to be easy to understand. I do that for commercial work and there’s a reason and it’s valid. For my personal work I have a longer time with the viewer, so I like to hide little details so you can look at the images again and again.”

As these more elusive elements emerge, big themes also become apparent. Most prominent is the relationship between urbanisation and nature – a source of great inspiration for Lucille. “It’s a challenge for the future,” she explains. “Does a city go against nature or does it find a way to integrate it? Is it a symbiotic relationship? Or does one destroy the other? I’m really interested in trying to find the balance between the two and how we can make it work.”

London’s profusion of green spaces is one reason Lucille moved to the city to study for an MA in communication design at Central Saint Martins – and decided to stay afterwards. Prior to this, she had grown up above her father’s carpentry workshop in Nancy – a city in northeast France where the art nouveau École de Nancy was founded in the 1900s – and completed an undergraduate degree in the artistic hub that is Paris.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ARTISTS & ILLUSTRATORSView All

MEET THE ARTIST: Lucy JONES

The winner of this year’s Ruth Borchard SelfPortrait Prize on what it means to be human.

2 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

Autumn Walks

Join illustrator EMMA LEYFIELD for a brisk seasonal jaunt as she hunts out suitable subject matter for this month’s colourful watercolour project

5 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

Frans Hals

Far from just being a painter of jovial portraits, this Dutch Golden Age artist inspired future generations and a new exhibition is set to boost his legacy, says STEVE PILL

5 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

Why Draw?

THIS MONTH WE ARE CELEBRATING THE HUMBLE ACT OF DRAWING. OVER THE NEXT 11 PAGES, YOU WILL FIND TIPS, IDEAS AND CHALLENGES, BUT STEVE PILL BEGINS WITH AN IMPORTANT QUESTION…

5 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

Katrina Wallis-King

The newly-elected Pastel Society member tells STEVE PILL how bird nests, CBT training and willow charcoal have all played a part in her atmospheric mixed media art

8 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

The Working Artist

As the autumn term begins, LAURA BOSWELL reflects on how to make the most of an art class

2 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

AUTUMN flowers

This dahlia’s complex beauty and seasonal colours made it the perfect subject for SANDRINE MAUGY in a painting that combines drybrush and wet-in-wet techniques

3 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

Alla PRIMA

Raw Umber Studios tutor LIZET DINGEMANS presents an introduction to the direct painting technique that can be used to create lively, spontaneous pictures

7 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

10 Rules For Capturing Luminosity

American acrylic artist LEXI SUNDELL shares her expert tips for recreating a natural glow in your floral paintings, which could be applied to all sorts of subjects

3 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021

17 Quick Tips For Better Drawings

While good drawing does take real practice, these simple correctives are designed to improve your sketching skills immediately

2 mins read
Artists & Illustrators
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

Patrick Learns of a Sweet Girl's Passing in this 'Life With Patrick' Crossover

Lucille a reminiscence of GC, GPD, NW McPride Lucille Ball of Jaspurrcats, owned by Beth Feiniger

2 mins read
Cat Talk
August 2021

LIFE after DEATH

As The Walking Dead heads into its final season, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is getting back to what he loves most—family, fast cars, candy and chickens.

6 mins read
Men's Journal
March - April 2021

The Clifton House

On the ninth anniversary of poet Lucille Clifton’s death, her eldest daugh-ter, Sidney Clifton, felt a strong desire to be back in her family’s former home in Baltimore. She decided to call the owner, who told her the house had been put up for sale that very day, February 13, 2019. A reunion with the house seemed fated, and Sidney Clifton jumped at the chance to buy her childhood home. Soon the space will once again be filled with the energy and cheerful noise of artists at work and in conversation as the poet’s family develops the Clifton House as a place where new generations of artists can flourish.

3 mins read
Poets & Writers Magazine
November - December 2020

PLANT PREPPER PLANT ADVISOR

IF YOU HAVE SKIN, YOU SHOULD GROW ALOE

5 mins read
American Survival Guide
February 2020

AT A CROSSROADS

Sometimes the right direction isn’t as clearly marked as you might like

5 mins read
Angels on Earth
Jan/Feb 2020

Name A Song

REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS IN CONVERSATION WITH MAHOGANY L. BROWNE

10+ mins read
Poets & Writers Magazine
November - December 2019

Who really loved Lucy? TRAGEDY BEHIND THE LAUGHS

A biopic uncovers the lovable redhead’s risky romance with a gangster and the ugly truth about her TV love aff air

7 mins read
New Zealand Woman's Weekly
August 2, 2021

No place like home!

Pining for her family in Jamaica, can Lucille strike the right work-life balance in Poplar?

1 min read
What's on TV
May 01, 2021

PRESERVING AND REVIVING CULTURAL HERITAGE

What started as a home-based enterprise and went on to grow into a full-fledged social enterprise on its own, Pungu Borneo is looking to create awareness on the importance of intellectual property on traditional knowledge and traditional culture expressions.

2 mins read
Business Today Malaysia
April 2021

The King Of Queens

The jazz musician Louis Armstrong’s impeccably maintained home in a modest New York City neighbourhood is a testament to his — and mid-century design’s — legacy.

8 mins read
T Singapore: The New York Times Style Magazine
March 2020