Chichester - art is life for Lucy as she embraces uncertainty and freedom of spirit

Art is a way of life for Lucy Davies as she navigates severe depression.

Lucy Davies
Lucy Davies

She is among the final-year fine art students at the University of Chichester who are offering their degree show this summer.

The preview is on Thursday, May 26; the exhibition opens the following day and runs through until June 1; weekdays 11am-6pm; weekend 11am-4pm. The venue is St Michaels, Bognor Regis Campus, University of Chichester, off Felpham Way.

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For Lucy, it could all be a stepping stone to starting a masters degree in Bath

Currently living in a small van in a friend’s field, she has been living in a caravan.

“For me the caravan is a representation of the way of life I lead that flows beneath the noamdic lifestyle that I have had on and off for the past ten years. I lived in a caravan for six months in a layby in Arundel. I felt I needed to break away from the conventional means of life as a way of managing my severe depression. Living in the unknown and doing things that terrify me help me feel alive rather than dead inside. Art and nature are the way that I live. To me my life is art.”

Depression is something she has lived with for a long time: “I was put on medication around the age of 17 but I didn't want to live that way. I came off the medication which means that I cope with life through my art. I'm 32 now. Art is my way of life but it is not just about being creative. It is also about having the power to transcend everything. I have always been creative. It is something that is in my family. I was with Stonepillow, the homeless charity in Chichester, and I came to the University of Chichester as part of an exit plan through the charity. They help try to give homeless people the opportunity to go into higher education.”

And Chichester has proved exactly the right place for Lucy: “Chichester university has a much more community and family and supportive feel. I think it is much more laidback than a lot of other art colleges would be. They have been very supportive, and they encourage free-spiritedness.”

In a way, as Lucy says, that's part of the paradox of an art degree: “You have the syllabus and you have modules but really art is about breaking out of those restrictions and those conditions.”

And certainly Chichester has allowed her the kind of expression she has wanted.

“I'm living in the van in the field at the moment but I park all over the place. It's something that you adjust to and, as I say, I tend to thrive in that environment, that uncertainty. I think it suits me.

“I would love more than anything to go to Scotland because wild camping is legal there and you're not made to feel that you're being naughty all the time. The government here does not like people living in vans and they are clamping down on it all the time. The restrictions are getting harder and harder.”

But that does not necessarily mean that Lucy's next stop will be Scotland: “I've been offered the place in Bath to do a masters and I'm really keen to further my education. I love learning stuff.”