It takes courage to be exposed.
It takes vulnerability to grow.
It takes a willingness to create.
Lily Brannon was born on 5 February 1992 in Johannesburg. From a young age, she has been experimenting with all types of natural mediums with which to create. She used anything from beetroot and spices in the kitchen to leaves, flowers, and mud from outside and rubbed or crushed them on old ceiling boards and newspapers. Over the years Lily has explored more sophisticated mediums like oil paint, ink and charcoal, but she states that her favourite mediums are red wine and charcoal. Using these mediums enables Lily to create from that experimental playfulness that she had as a little girl. Wine is layered in symbolism. It holds a story of transformation from the moment the farmer plants a vineyard right through to the glass in your hand – much like the transformation of charcoal.
Most of her artworks explore the paradoxical meaning found in human existence. According to her, “it is only when we come to terms with the complexity of life that we are permitted to surrender to creative expression, true freedom and growth.” This complex yet delicate balance between joy and hardship is not only revealed in her art but also in the symbolism of her name Lily (pureness) Brannon (sorrow). Sorrow and suffering play an integral part in bringing us closer to the pureness of our being and exposing our true selves. Just as a vine has to be pruned and its fruit pressed and crushed to make a beautifully complex wine, so we as humans are transformed by our hardships. We learn to rise above our circumstances and gain wisdom, insight and strength. This theme is an integral part of Lily’s own journey. Through her art, she strives to be a voice for the underdog, the mistreated and the ones that fall through the cracks.
In her latest charcoal series titled “To be human” Lily explores the similarities between different human experiences. Through this, she strives to question the emphasis our society places on categorising humans, especially in South Africa. Her artworks guide the audience through a process of acknowledging the concept of the “other” and reconciling that with the identity of the “self”. This will hopefully challenge and shift the perspective of the audience, helping to foster an understanding of the “other” and inspiring a change in human behaviour. How could we not change if we see that every “you” is just another “me”?
Lily currently resides in Cape Town where she is working on her career as an artist. She frequently hosts social art events and art classes to promote art and self-expression.