On the 2nd of December 2023, over 100 paintings by Lucy Harwood’s were presented at the award-winning arts centre, Firstsite, which resides in the heart of Colchester. Her work is an example of local talent from 1893-1972, consisting of a series of landscapes, portraitures and still life paintings. 

Firstsite is currently home to exhibitions such as sculptures by Ryan Gander and Bharti Kher, in addition to Claire Cansick’s landscapes titled ‘You and I Are Earth’ drawing focus to the drastic effects climate change has had on our environment, as well as our human impact. 

However, from the 2nd of December to the 14th of April 2024, Firstsite is welcoming a new exhibit - one which creates an immersive experience for the viewer that allows them to fully take in the beauty of each individual painting. 

‘Step into a world where colour and energy collide, as Harwood’s artworks command the space with their vibrancy and confidence’ (Firstsite)

The astounding number of paintings on display were produced across her lifetime, showing the development of her notable art style that incorporates loose, bold brush strokes. However, this art style was not truly on purpose, but rather as a result of becoming paralysed on her right side due to falling ill with appendicitis in her late twenties. 

However, this incident only produced a style which so clearly belongs to her. Only one painting was produced with her right hand, and in comparison, it is arguably more mundane than the rest. Using her left hand allowed her to adopt a post-impressionistic style which focused more on capturing its subject's ‘essence’, rather than producing an entirely accurate piece of art. This was an approach that artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne had used in their art. 

In a time in which there were so many restraints on the prospects of women, Harwood had successfully been able to break out of the mould that society had built for her. This can partially be credited to the fact that she as a woman, although born into a farming family, would not inherit any of the land, in addition to the fact that she had never married. This ultimately provided Harwood with the freedom to feed her artistic desires as she pleased. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London before continuing at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham. 

The exhibition, ‘Bold Impressions’ is the third of Firstsite’s ongoing series which has a central theme of work from the students at The East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, drawing focus to local work.  

All current exhibitions at Firstsite can be viewed for free at the centre Tuesday to Sunday from 10am.