Young contemporary artists offer a meeting of minds in the le jardin

by Katrina ffiske

Meet Me in The Garden/Rendez-Vous Dans Le Jardin is a collaborative exhibition with two young contemporary artists, David Shillinglaw and Lily Mixe.

The artists, based in Margate, have come to the Vanner Gallery in Salisbury through a local connection: artist and writer June Cluett, based in Hanging Langford, is David’s godmother.

“I love David and Lily’s work,” said gallery director, David Christie. “And I was very excited to discover that June knew them both. June introduced us and I was thrilled when David and Lily agreed to do a collaborative exhibition here in Salisbury. They came to see the space at the end of 2021 not long after we opened and felt it would suit their work well.”

The preview evening was on Thursday, 4th May, where it was inspiring to meet the artists behind these bright, explosive, graphic artworks. The show is a mixture of individual pieces and collaborative work made exclusively for the show in Salisbury.

Lily is a French artist and met David 10 years ago in London. They started sharing ideas and working together almost immediately. “We now share a home in Margate, as well as a studio, tools and techniques. It can be quite intense.

“David is energetic, quick and expressive with his work, whereas I am slower, more thoughtful and enjoy looking at the detail. David uses paint, while I enjoy drawing.

“Our different ways of working were challenging but we somehow managed to meet in the middle to create our pieces. We have learnt so much about each other and our work over the past years.”

At the centre of Lily’s work is the natural world. The subjects are otherworldly, aliens from our own planet.

Lily labours over each detail, glorifying their forms, patterns and structures, capturing their majesty by meditating upon their beauty and evolution.

Her solo show Butterfly Effect ran at Saatchi Gallery in London in late 2022 and she has produced solo and collaborative murals in London, Barcelona, New York, Paris and Hamburg.

It was initially hard to pin David down as he was conscientious in talking to each guest at the preview.

Towards the end we chatted and, like Lily, he was an inspiration. He has packed so much into his life already – exhibiting and producing murals worldwide, including in New York, London, Lisbon, Vienna and Hamburg.

“I do find it hard to say no,” David admitted. “I like to be spontaneous and yet positive about everything.”
He shows me pictures of mattresses in a book he has published. They had been left on the street to rot, but to turn things around he paints a positive message on them.

Both artists seem to be experts in extremes. Painting a bright, bold flower one moment and the next strapping themselves to a cherry picker to cover large buildings with bold blocks of colour.

Meet Me in the Garden is the meeting of the artistic minds of David and Lily, but most importantly it invites us to come and join them in their magical world.

Meet Me in the Garden runs until 24 June.

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