As we continue to support new and emerging creative talent, we recently met the young and supremely talented sculptor Lydia Smith.
Lydia exudes positivity – but what strikes you most is her humility, coupled with her boundless tenacity and drive – and this winning combination has resulted in her remarkable achievements.
But It has not all been plain sailing – Lydia was bullied at school, and lacked confidence; she failed many of her academic exams, battled with dyslexia and was pressured by her school to drop graphics. She also tragically lost her beloved grandfather in a road accident whilst she was at university – a trauma which shaped her future.
Lydia looks younger than her 23 years, with a warm, self-effacing manner and is an inspiring and creative force of nature.
At school, Lydia says that “art was the only thing that I was any good at” – and clearly she was right to follow her passion, achieving 100% in each of her A-levels (Art, Art Graphics and ICT). Championed by her favourite teacher, she was encouraged to take an Art Foundation Course, after which she progressed to The Wimbledon College of Art, to study Theatre and Screen: Technical Arts and Special Effects.
Lydia immersed herself in the various disciplines on offer – including animation, fashion design, green screen and prosthetic make-up. She studied puppet making with the highly skilled Darryl Worbey, who taught her the intricate pattern-cutting method, and enjoyed a work placement with Jimmy Grimes, the puppet coordinator of the West End hit show, War Horse.
She loves theatre and film-based work – especially character creation – and was particularly drawn to sculpture. She learnt figurative sculpture (working with live models, sculpting the human form) with Allan Sly and Livia Turco – and says “this is where my obsession with figurative sculpture truly took hold”.
Her first job after graduating was as a prop maker at Pinewood Creative, where she worked on part of a yacht for the third Johnny English movie, and a giant lily pad for a Louis Vuitton advert! It was a great experience, but she really wanted to sculpt – so during her tea breaks she “would leave the studio and wander around Pinewood to see what doors were open”. She found the Art Director’s office, and bravely knocked on the door. Fortune clearly favours the bold, as he looked at her portfolio and put her in contact with his sculptor to discuss a forthcoming project. What Lydia modestly describes as “hopping round the studio bluffing my way onto these art depts” led her to several key contacts, and plenty of work.
This drive and proactivity has underpinned her substantial body of work – leading to her involvement in the remake of Tomb Raider, and joining the construction department for the final series of Game of Thrones – “the most amazing job” – where one perk was chatting to Jason Momoa!
Lydia has several plates spinning at once – she works as a freelance lecturer at her old college; she runs her own studio where she sculpts for exhibitions and commissions; and she has been on the British team at the world Snow Sculpting Championships! In April, she is off to Athens to study ‘drawing in space’ sculpture technique with Robert Bodem, the former director of the Florence Academy of Art. She frequently sculpts for the film industry – and has worked on The Voyage of Dr Dolittle, Star Wars Episode 9 and HBO’s Avenue 5. But she says “figurative sculpture is my passion” and “my personal dream is to have a public sculpture somewhere”.
Lydia’s passion is reflected not only in her vast output of work, but also in her desire to bring people along with her. How many 23-year-olds do you know who have an apprentice?! Well Lydia does – Ellie, a 16-year-old art student, whom she teaches and supports, as well as giving her work experience in the studio.
In addition, Lydia is currently setting up her own figurative sculpture school. She has a clear goal – “in my head I’ve got this image of a glass building with five or six students working in their spaces around me; I’m working on my own projects but I’m also there as a mentor for them”. Anyone familiar with the Law of Attraction will know that visualisation – having a detailed image in mind of one’s goal – is the most powerful tool with which we turn our dreams into reality. And you can bet that Lydia will be running her school in the very near future – with commissioned work, a public sculpture and a range of other projects no doubt coming her way too.
Lydia is an amazing ambassador for sculpture, and certainly one to watch. And did I mention she’s still only 23…..?
Check out Lydia’s creations on her Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/lydia_smithsculpture/