Lucy T. Smith: Botanical Artist


Townsville has once again exported a marvellously talented person into fame through their love for art and the teachings of James Cook University lecturers.

Allison Byrnes

Lucy T. Smith is a botanical illustrator, now living and working in London at Kew Gardens. She has been included in the T150 JCU artists exhibition as a part of the 150 year celebration of Townsville as a municipality.

Smith found her love for illustration whilst studying a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) and a Master of Creative Arts at JCU, graduating in 1994 and 1999 respectively.

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When Smith began her Bachelor at JCU, the degree had just been introduced as a switch from a TAFE course to a university standard. The degree gave her the opportunity to study two loves: art and English literature.

During Smith’s time in Townsville, she said that the environment around her created a great work flow to follow a passion she so loved.

“I was very much influenced by the surrounding environment. Having explored the rainforest and other areas of North Queensland during my time in Cairns, I was keen to learn more about it, and the serendipity of my art study was that I realised I could use illustration as a tool to learn more about, and express my deep appreciation of, that environment,” she said.

Smith also expressed her love for the art world that is so heavily present in London compared to the much smaller scale of Townsville.

“I have been exposed to an amazing array of art exhibitions showing work from all periods of history, and contemporary times, all at a very high standard.”

“This has inspired me to try and be ‘world class’.”

However, Australia is still always in her heart as she finds herself often clinging to a more “exotic” artistic landscape, rather than the naturally gloomy environment that England is so famous for.

“Lately I have been reconnecting with the kind of illustrations I did in Australia in the work I do outside of the Kew illustration, showing plants in their natural habitats rather than isolated on a white background – less formal and I think more full of life.”

Smith reflected on her time studying at JCU Townsville and praised the University and staff.

“I was so lucky to have very talented and skillful teachers. All of the teachers collectively were inspiring, even those who did not teach me directly. From those that did, each one taught me something special,” she said.

Smith’s natural botanical illustrations will be on show at Umbrella Studios from July 8 to August 14 as part of the “Celebrating Townsville” T150 exhibition organized by the JCU Library Special Collection’s team.