Lydia Gardner, Painter

Born 1968

Lydia began painting in earnest in 2001 and embarked on a foundation at Lambeth College. She went straight into practising as an art-worker in schools in 2003 working in a range of media from paint to 3D modelling and mosaic. She currently enjoys residencies in 3 Hackney schools. A key theme is exploring cultural diversity,  as she collaborates with pupils to make giant pieces of celebratory public art.

Her first major painting commission was ‘Poppy’ for a feature film in which a love story was interwoven with the question over whether visual art or literature best depicts war. Her huge oil painting was shown in the film’s final scenes, demonstrating the power of art to capture the imagination.

Lydia’s current paintings explore themes from nature and of human existence. Raw emotions, meditations, life dilemmas and personal stories are caught in the city landscapes of vivid abstract worlds. Recurring symbols include drip-dreams, ladders, crosses, explosions and mandalas. She revels in the use of bright contrasting colours, taking a familiar theme and startling the viewer into seeing something in a completely new way. She paints quickly and freely to achieve an immediacy in her work.

For her larger paintings, she is interested in the abstraction of pure, neat primary colours and superimposing them over muted natural colours. She presents scenes in a series of grids, the horizontal and the vertical, comparing it to the digital pixelation forced on to everything that is broken down with the digital eye. Part of a series, her studies of her West Norwood Garden depict this unique outlook, in a similar style to her other recent studies of nature and the city. She has used the style for a large figurative portrait of Frida Kahlo. Influences from Mondrian, Klee and Klimt are highly apparent.

Her small block ‘Mexican Dreams’ series saw a new diversion, drawing on the vivid colour plains of Chris Offili’s work, over which Lydia painted symbols and imagery derived from her lifelong desire to travel to Mexico.

The latin theme has been further developed with her homage to Picasso – “Pablo” showing the great man being born from Kahlo’s exotic flower garden  and “Boy from Argentina” depicting a man in false eyelashes lamenting over lost love.


  • 2003 Lambeth LOS Award for Painting
  • 2010 3rd Prize, Summer Exhibition at The Bigger Picture Gallery

Exhibitions (view photos)

  • 2002 and 2003: Lambeth College
  • 2003 Imperial War Museum
  • 2006 , 2007 and 2010 The Bromley by Bow Centre
  • 2007: Olympia Exhibition Centre
  • 2008 Maison Borghetti, Corsica
  • 2009 West Norwood Library
  • 2010 Domali Bistro, Crystal Palace
  • 2010 Conduit Show, Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery (group show)
  • 2010 The Bigger Picture Gallery (group show)
  • 2010 and 2011 Dulwich Open House
  • 2011 Darnley Road Exhibition Room, Hackney (group show)
  • 2011 Hammersmith Food Cycle Restaurant
  • 2011 Smokehouse Gallery
  • 2016 Jane Newbery Gallery (basement exhibition)
  • 2016 & 2017 Dulwich Artists Open House