Opening in 2022, Invisible Portraits is an exhibition by Artist Lucy Ash highlighting the LGBTQ+ community through a series of abstract portraits, celebrating diversity, bravery and forgotten figures, making LGBTQ+ history visible.

Lucy Ash is a British abstract painter who uses texture and colour to convey meaning. She blends ideas of time, mathematics and rhythm to represent emotional responses to love, death and injustice. Lucy’s practice is to develop series of paintings rather than one off works, enabling an in-depth exploration around specific themes.

Look out for upcoming events at the gallery and near you soon!

Lucy Ash and the City Art Gallery are inviting people from the local community in Southampton, along with leading LGBTQ+ figures, to co-create two large artworks titled Portraits of Inspiration.

Each participant will be given a small canvas section, along with paints and brushes, on which they are asked to paint an image of an LGBTQ+ person they find inspiring. Lucy will assemble the sections into two large artworks, each comprising of 323 individual portraits.

These artworks are designed to reinforce the message that LGBTQ+ progress is a collective effort and is achieved by reaching out and engaging with the community. The idea for a large community artwork comes out of Lucy Ash’s practice of painting a small section of a large artwork each day – a visual diary. The two community artworks will be intrinsic to this exhibition.

‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’

You can get involved

We are looking for people to contribute to this body of work, with a desire to bring about positive change and be part of the big picture.

Who to paint?

Choose an LGBTQ+ person who has inspired you, or you admire, and paint a small representation of them. For example you could paint an LGBTQ+ person from history. You could paint a friend or a family member or someone who has been a role model. Or even a fictional character. It just matters that they mean something to you. The picture doesn’t have to be representational. It can be abstract or it can be simple. For example if someone has brought happiness into your life you could paint a large sun.



In 2019 Southampton City Art Gallery acquired ‘Iris 02’ for the City’s permanent collection.

‘Iris 02’ was part of Lucy’s exhibition ‘Echoes’ which was on display at Turner Sims from 22 January until 16 March 2018 and was a response to the melodies, lyrics and themes of the jazz musician Trish Clowes’ album My Iris. The painting considers the dimensions and symbolism of Iris, the Greek Rainbow Goddess of the sky and the sea, and messenger of the Gods.

As a gay artist and activist, Lucy has made sure to connect the rainbow of Iris to the rainbow Pride flag and so consequently, the spots are limited to just the six colours.

© Lucy Ash

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