'Midnight swim' © Lily Senner
Oil on canvas. 150 x 150 cm.

Student Spotlight: Lily Senner, Newcastle Materials Prize 2018
January 29, 2019
The latest student to be featured in our Student Spotlight interview series is Lily Senner, recipient of a £500 Materials Prize awarded by ACS at Newcastle University in 2018.

This prize marks the first time ACS has been able to support students entering the final year of their undergraduate Fine Art degree at Newcastle University. Over the course of 2018, ACS was able to partner with more institutions than ever before to award a record £30,000 in educational bursaries and prizes to students throughout the UK.

Find out more about how Senner approaches using a variety of media in her multi-disciplinary work, and how she uses half-forgotten memories to form the basis of her intuitive, colourful imagery.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Psychological, spatial and mark-making.


Q. What does winning the ACS/Newcastle Materials Prize mean for you as an artist?


Winning the ACS Materials Prize has given my studio practice a new lease of life. It has allowed me to experiment more freely by giving me the opportunity to purchase new and exciting materials.


Coming from a working class background, it has always been a struggle to purchase art materials of top quality but the ACS Materials Prize meant that for the first time I could spend a significant amount on my practice without having to stress which has been really amazing.


I have used the prize money to purchase top quality paints, pens, pencils and brushes. I have also been using the money to experiment with different processes in my practice such as screen-print and monotype.


Having access to a variety of good quality materials has been fundamental in developing my practice. My work is so focused on the quality of mark I make and the colours that I use, that winning the ACS prize money has allowed me to realise qualities in my artwork that couldn’t be achieved with the materials I was using previously.


‘View from my bedroom window into my neighbours bathroom’ © Lily Senner
Giclee print. 90 x 60 cm.


Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


I use a variety of mediums in my work. My work draws on the relationships created through different forms of mark-making. I use a combination of oils, acrylic, felt tip markers, inks and watercolour.

Using a varied source of mediums allows me to create my own individual marks and opens a conversation with the viewer on what processes I have employed in each artwork.


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


My practice is based on intuitive imagery I create from half-forgotten memories. I try to reflect the human condition in my landscapes.


Most of my inspiration comes from within, my own desire to create a specific atmosphere and feeling within my various images. Of course I take visual inspiration from other artists such as Peter Doig, Josef Albers, Emma Fineman, David Hockney as well as illustrators like Lisa Hanawalt and Matt Groening.


‘Untitled’ © Lily Senner
Watercolour on 4 paper sheets. 59.2 x 84 cm.

Q. Take us through your working process.


My working process is quite organic. I’m constantly drawing or jotting down ideas and when I find an image or concept that really interests me, I just fixate on it and create larger works and develop more artworks which all inform each other but may have started from just one sketch.


‘Untitled’ © Lily Senner
Felt tip markers and acrylic on paper. 14.8 x 21 cm.


Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


The first painting I ever made was a small acrylic painting of a frog that I had copied from a painting my older brother had done. It’s memorable for me because I remember greatly admiring my brothers painting yet in my version, I had laid on the paint too thick, it had cracked and was not anything like my brothers and I remember thinking how much I was going to have to work on my art to reach my brothers standard!