Make it Public 2020

Interview by Kel Jackson

Lucy Somers (United Kingdom),
Cognitive neuroscientist and artist

Lucy Somers is a painter, and a cognitive neuroscientist, the Sussex Colour Group, a lab within the psychology department at the University of Sussex, both practises closely studying colour. In her paintings, she creates intensely coloured figurative scenes which are both spatially ambiguous but bouncing with combatting jarring colours that test the outer limits of our colour vision. Her doctoral research is investigating the neural processes that construct our experience of colour, how these outer limits of colour perception differ from person to person, and how we can manipulate these processes to alter our colour vision.

Lucy began painting while still at school, forming her personal taste in colour very young, exhibiting her work by the age of 16. Once at art school, at Liverpool John Moores University, the academic conversation around art was firmly fixed within the ideas Relational Aesthetics, with all meaningful debate revolving around the primacy of the viewer's subjective experience. This idea of all meaning coming from context is central to not only the meeting of intense colours in her paintings but is also central to the working of the visual system she investigates in her research.  

Kel Jackson is a Master of Research Student at the Royal College of Art in the Design Pathway and an Interdisciplinary Designer. She is researching how sociological changes in Generation Z might affect their relationship with gendered colour meanings.

In this conversation, Lucy discusses finding her way from a painter who pushes the boundaries of how the audience experiences colour to studying how the brain experiences colour. She talks about the expanse of the human brain and developing new ways to study colour cognition. Lucy also discusses the importance of context in both finding your identity and how we see colour as well as going back to old practices as a way to continue to be creative during the lockdown.