Lilly Atkinson


Lilly is an artist and curator based in Glasgow. Currently curator of Deuce Deuce a nomadic collaboration and commissioning project with Amy Jones. Previous director of The Royal Standard (Liverpool) previous projects include The Narrators in collaboration with The Arts Council Collection and Service Provider for Liverpool Biennial 2012.

The Shape

Every year since graduating I visit my BA tutor and we chat about my progress, his progress, the schools progress. We talk about physics and relational aesthetics. We talk about my degree mark. About how he now thinks my grade was a victim of not getting it, not getting how socially engaged practise played a role in sculpture. How because they didn’t get it, I didn’t get it. Therefore I wasn’t responsible for it. I couldn’t articulate it. We talk about this a lot. We sometimes talk about why we still meet, we don’t really understand as our interests are not shared and often misunderstood. Whether it is routine or something else, we still meet.

One year, about two years ago. It was different. I went to his office and he was excited. Beyond belief and recognition. There was a box on the table, a big box and it was sealed. He said he had been waiting for me to arrive so we could open it. It was a new piece of work, his work. He had had it manufactured from some CAD drawings, printed on a 3D printer. He had never seen it in the flesh. He opened the box and got it out. Placed the work on top of the closed box.

We looked in silence. I had never seen anything like it, I couldn’t place its shape or material in the real world. I didn’t understand how it had been bent, folded and structured.

He said, after you have gone I will look at this forever. Do you ever feel this way when you make work?

I said no, I didn’t feel like that.

He said, what never?

I said I didn’t think so, I don’t know how you feel. You look pretty excited.

He said, excited? I feel exhausted. I feel the best kind of exhausted. Its like falling in love for the first time, when you don’t know if the person loves you back. You stare at them, across the office, across the classroom and you don’t know how they fit in your life. They make you feel like shit, but you can’t stop wanting to be connected to them. They act as a shape, you can’t define the edges but it fills a hole you didn’t know existed. It is relentless, and exciting because it feels dangerous. There is so much unknown, but it fronts up to you and you cannot move around it. Not because you made it as it is, because it exists how it is. You are just one part of it. Imagine how you feel when a boy doesn’t text you back, and you look at your phone all the time, even if it gets to the point where you just want to know the bad news. You just want the news, for them to be with you or acknowledge you. That’s how I feel about this object. I don’t even know how it happened, it is just here with me now and I can’t stop wanting to be around it.

I said, that I think I did know to an extent, and that sometimes they are the hardest works to justify because you don’t know why they are in the world. They are self-indulgent and I don’t know how useful self-indulgence is anymore. He said, you never worry why that text message you are waiting for is in the world, or not in the world. You just want it to be there. That is ok sometimes. And you worry too much. Make and be. You don’t have to understand everything.


  • Hydra (Installation shot)
  • Hydra (Installation shot)
  • Hydra (Installation shot)
  • Hydra
  • You Got The Best Of Me
  • ELAY