Creative Quarantine: Artist Lily Mae Martin

Lily Mae Martin | Photo credit: Gene Hammond-Lewis

1. How are you holding up?

I’m alright, this whole experience is really something isn’t it? I have been extremely lucky in comparison to so many people, the news is just hard to fathom some days. I’ve lost a fair amount of work, but one of my jobs has really looked after us. I am so impressed by them and I feel very lucky.


Dancing | Watercolour on paper | 21 x 15cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2020

My main focus throughout this time has been my child. She’s ten and kids this age have been hit really hard by this. It’s difficult for them to understand. I think a lot of adults forget what it is like to be young, how things are processed differently, and how scary huge and sudden changes are. We’ve done so much art, craft, reading, and creating together. I sing to her a lot more than usual, art has been the thing that gets us through the days.


Royal Children’s Hospital, Aquarium | Ink on paper | 21 x 13cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2020

This time involves a lot of surrendering, improvising, and accepting. Some days are just hard and there will be a lot of tears and I won’t get the things done. ‘Home school’ has been an absolute nightmare, (not the school’s fault!)


Open Cut, Black Hill | Ink on cotton paper | 1380 x 760cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2019

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

It has, in a number of ways. I’ve altered the way I usually do things, which is what I have sort of always done as parenthood demands that and I have been a parent for most of my art practicing life. There’s a gift in this, as this time has involved a lot more reflection and interrogation of ideas. This time has involved my daughter a lot more again, we haven’t had time together like this since she was very little. That’s extremely precious.


Contour line, self | Watercolour on paper | 21 x 15cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2020

During this time I have also experimented with my work, which is something I haven’t really allowed myself time for. There is a huge amount of pressure to participate and to be seen doing things. Perhaps I have put this pressure on myself, hard to tell. But regardless, there is a lot to take from this and probably more to come.


Tension | Ink on cotton paper | 64 x 57 cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2019

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

Yes, absolutely and that is to take the time it takes to make my work. I usually work fast and I don’t allow time for experimentation and reflection. I’ve been working on my skills in other areas – as in other than works on paper – and I will keep that up. I really want to move into work with colour, I think I’ve studied the heck out of tone and value so it’s time for some colour!


Self Portrait, April | Graphite on paper | 21 x 13cm | © Lily Mae Martin 2020

4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

Here are a few artists on instagram that I have reality enjoyed during this time:

Mandy Ord, Clara Camm, Nic Plowman


Lily Mae Martin is a visual artist born in Melbourne. She graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Art majoring in Drawing. Lily Mae was awarded the Lionel Gell traveling scholarship and went to Berlin and Wales, where she spent a number of years refining her technical practice. Since returning to Australia, her work has been widely exhibited and highly commended in a number of prizes.


Moorabool | Ink on cotton paper | 56 x 76cm, 2018 | © Lily Mae Martin

Lily Mae has been a finalist for the 2016 Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Art Gallery of Ballarat; winner of the 2016 Ursula Hoff Institute Emerging Artist Acquisitive Art Award in the National Works on Paper exhibition, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery; and shortlisted for the 2016 Paul Guest Drawing Prize, Bendigo Art Gallery, Adelaide Perry drawing prize 2017 and the Dobell Drawing Prize 2019.

You can keep track of her work at her website and Instagram.