Interweaving motifs and ideas from historical paintings with contemporary concerns, Lisa Wright's paintings move between and through different times.

Often isolated, the figures within Wright's paintings and drawings hover on the brink of adulthood. Their childish faces, flushed cheeks and rounded bellies are at odds with the fragments of formal, adult, decorative clothing - ribbons, ruffs and petticoats - that adorn their predominantly unclothed bodies. The complex, in-between era of puberty is explored through the emotional and physical vulnerability of the figures, and adolescent elegance, confidence, awkwardness and defiance are exposed. 

Puberty heightens everything. Emotions are intensified, the insignificant is magnified and the importance of the presentation of the self, of body image, predominates. One can identify details within Wright's paintings that are curiously heightened and often sensual: the bright red rim of an ear; a single translucent bow fixed to a naked chest; the uncomfortable shyness of the placing of a young girl's clasped hands.

Many of the figures wear simple black or white masks, reminiscent of Venetian carnival masks. These were held in place by the mouth, preventing eating, kissing and speaking, rendering the wearer somewhat passive and mute. Formally these devices 'interrupt' the figures and add to the paintings' startling and unsettling focal points, emphasising the search for identity and construction of the self that is so critical during puberty. Likewise, the title of the exhibition, ‘The Unversed’, alludes to the figures lacking the language, skills and experience to express themselves or to describe their experiences adequately. Instead, emotions and ideas are untold: lives remaining in a state of anticipation and a state of potential. 
Wright's paintings are developed from a variety of sources. Drawings are made from life and (if necessary) from reproductions of historical paintings such as those by the eighteenth-century painters Pietro Longhi and Jean-Antoine Watteau and, most importantly from repeated drawing expeditions to study works in place at historical collections held by institutions like the National Gallery and the Wallace Collection.

Following these initial studies, ideas are then worked through in rigorous and intuitive drawing sessions, using different materials on different scales, both on paper and canvas. Her remarkable drawing skills and deft handling of paint are apparent in the use of thick, rich, buttery strokes, descriptive drips of paint, looser brushwork and extremely delicate, fine detailing. The effect is emphasised by Wright's careful balancing of both figurative and abstracted elements, while her remarkably vivid and saturated palette locates the subjects in the present moment.

The works appear highly staged: a smudge of paint acts as an indeterminate background, the depth of pictorial space is deliberately made mysterious, and a softly glowing luminosity lights the figures in particular ways, as if they were actors or dancers on a minimal stage. Yet each figure is afforded privacy: a space within the canvas which belongs to them alone, perhaps making the viewer feel as if they are intruding into a very private world, despite the 'staging'.

This important new body of work shows an artist at the height of her creative powers, pulling at the threads of a creative tapestry which resonates with both the ancient and the profoundly contemporary. 

After studying at The Royal Academy Schools, London, 1990-1993, Wright relocated to Cornwall, where she currently lives and works. Wright has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, such as at Tate St Ives in the significant 'Art Now Cornwall' exhibition. Her work is held in many corporate and private collections and she was artist in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company throughout the two year period of their ' Histories' cycle, culminating in an exhibition at the Roundhouse, London. Wright's work has been selected for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition for the last twenty two years. Awards include the National Open Art Prize, the Hunting Art Prize and, most notably, the Threadneedle Prize in 2013. 



Elected Royal West of England Academician (RWA)
Elected member of Newlyn Society of Artists
Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University
Studied at Royal Academy Schools, London (Post Graduate – Painting)
Maidstone College of Art (First Class BA Hons)

Solo Exhibitions

‘The Unversed’ Curated by Coates and Scarry at Gallery 8 London
New Drawings’ Millennium Gallery
‘Walking Through Beautiful’ Millennium Gallery
‘Into the Light’, Beardsmore Gallery, London
‘The Histories’ Paintings produced during two year residency with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The Roundhouse and Beardsmore Gallery, London & The Royal Academy Café Gallery, London.
‘Twilight Paintings’, Beardsmore Gallery, London
‘Night Paintings’, Lemon Street Gallery, Cornwall
‘Beach Paintings’, Beardsmore Gallery, London
‘Pool Paintings’, Beardsmore Gallery, London Lemon Street Gallery, Cornwall
Beardsmore Gallery, London
Beardsmore Gallery, London
Beardsmore Gallery, London
Thornton/Bevan Arts, London
Sadlers Wells Gallery, London Raw Gallery, London
The Royal Overseas League, London
‘Reflection of Two’, Greenwich Theatre Art Gallery, London

Selected Group Exhibitions

CONTEXT Art Miami, Coates & Scarry, Miami
THE FUTURE CAN WAIT, curated by Zavier Ellis & Simon Rumley , London
ART CENTRAL Coates & Scarry, Hong Kong
‘ANTHOLOGY’ Charlie Smith Gallery, London
‘Spring Masters’ The Armoury, John Martin Gallery, New York
‘VESTIGE’ Coates & Scarry, London
Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, London
ART 15 -Coates & Scarry, London
RWA Autumn Exhibition, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
‘Impressions’ Herbert Read Gallery, UCA Canterbury
ARBORETUM The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
‘Unsettled’ Enys House, Cornwall
ART 14 London, Millennium Gallery
RWA Autumn Exhibition, The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
‘WASH’ Resort, Margate – curated by Francesca Flowers and Charles Williams
The Threadneedle Prize, London (joint Winner)
Limbo, The Coffin Store, Cornwall
Millennium Mixed Winter, Millennium Gallery
The Royal West of England Academy, Bristol. Autumn Exhibition (Evolver Prize)
The Royal West of England Academy, Autumn Exhibition
Millennium Mixed Winter
IMS – Contemporary Cornish Paintings’-
Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall and Christies, London
PRINT! The Exchange, Cornwall
Millennium Mixed Winter
1991 – 2010
(inclusive) Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London
30th Anniversary exhbition, Beaux Art , Bath
Reality Check, Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall
The Lynn Painter- Stainers Prize, London
The National Open Art Competition, Pallant House, (1st Prizewinner)
The Threadneedle Art prize, London
The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize, London (Prizewinner)
Cornish Perspective, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
10th Anniversay exhibition, Lemon Street Gallery
The National Open Art Competition, Chichester / London (2nd Prize winner)
Crossing Over, Beaux Art, Bath
The Threadneedle Art Prize, London
Art Now Cornwall, Tate Gallery St. Ives
The Sovereign European Art prize, London
‘To the Edge’, Beardsmore Gallery, London
NSA Exhibition, Goldfish, Cornwall
‘Critic’s Choice’, (Norbert Lynton), NSA, Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall
25th Anniversary Hunting Art Prizes, London (Prize winner)
Invited artist, Hunting Art Prizes, London
Hunting Art Prizes, Royal College of Art, London (First prize winner)
‘Critic’s Choice’, (Joan Bakewell), Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall
‘The Space Between’ two person exhibition (with Mark Surridge) Merriscourt Gallery
Hunting Art Prize, Royal College of Art, London ‘Ten’, Beardsmore Gallery, London
‘From the Heart’, Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall
Lemon Street Gallery (two-person exhibition with Mary Mabutt), Cornwall
Hunting Art Prizes, Royal College of Art, London (prizewinner)
Cheltenham Open Drawing Exhibition, Cheltenham, Humberside, Switzerland
Merriscourt Gallery, (four-person exhibition), Oxfordshire

Awards and Prizes

Threadneedle Prize- joint Winner
Evolver Prize – The Royal West of England Academy
The National Open Art Competition-First prize
The Lynn Painter- Stainers Prize – Runner-up prize
The National Open Art Competition- Second prize
25th Anniversary Hunting Art Prizes- Most Popular Painting Prize
Shortlisted for the Sovereign European Art Prize
Hunting Art Prizes- First prize
Arts Council of England Award
The Villiers David Award (Fine Art-shortlisted)
Hunting Art Prizes-Regional Award
Young Artist Award- NEAC
The Winsor & Newton Young Artist Award
The George Isted Prize (RA schools)
WH Patterson Fine Arts Award
The Royal Overseas League Travel Scholarship
The Royal Academy Premiums Painting Prize


The Jerwood Foundation
The Royal Shakespeare Company