What I love about blogging is finding out about careers and hobbies I would never have considered for myself. Lucy Branch has one of these careers. 39 year old Lucy is a director of her family’s firm Antiques Bronze Ltd, one of the UK’s leading conservation and restoration companies. She works on landmarks like Nelson’s Column, Cleopatra’s Needle, Eros, St Paul’s Cathedral, The British Library and Selfridges. Her family firm was called in to restore THE firm’s Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace in time for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
To get this place in her career she studied for a degree in History of Art with Material Studies and has a Masters from The Royal College of Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum and is an accredited member of the Institute of Conservation.
I really admire the way she shot straight up in a strong trajectory from student to restorer and then director, and now finally to author of A Rarer Gift Than Gold a novel imbued with history, travel and precious metals.
Who are you and who makes up your family?
Think of our family as a ball of wool – a large ball of wool. We are one united strand but we are wound tightly around each other in a messy bundle. There is myself and my husband, three children, two sets of grandparents, several sets of cousins and their offspring. We are
all very much in each other’s lives; many of us work together daily and have done for many years, we see each other socially most weeks, we look after each other’s children, we scorn each other’s bad fortune. We are inextricably linked.
My own bit of the yarn consists of my husband Iain, who I have known since we were at school, my son Rory who is 11, my other son Fin, who is seven and my daughter Isla who is almost 5.
Tell me about your creativity, what you do and when you came to start it?
My career for many years has been in sculptural restoration; I predominantly specialise in large-scale sculpture. It’s a job that requires a lot of hands-on skills in numerous art techniques to recreate a sculpture’s original vision depending upon how it has been made.
Nearly every sculpture I work on is unique either in terms of its particular finish or its particular problems and solving them often requires a fair amount of lateral thinking aka creative thinking. It was from elements of my work that the storyline for my first novel began to form. Once in my head,
the story began to grow exponentially until there really was no other way forward than to get it down on paper. For me, creativity always begins in a visual way I see how a sculpture should look before I begin to plan how to get it there. It’s the same with my writing; the story needs to form first visually before it ever meets the page.
What does it mean to you and how it makes you feel?
For me, being creative is about a flexibility of mind so that you can see things from different viewpoints, but it’s also about manifesting that viewpoint through a medium. This is what sets it apart from being imaginative; you can be imaginative and never make anything. Creativity is expressing the imaginative through some form. I crave being creative – it’s a drug for me. When I’m not at work, I’m writing and when I’m not writing, I’m sewing. Being creative is about the pleasure taken in the doing.
What the hardest part about it is?
One of the hardest things I find is that it’s almost always impossible to create the perfection that I have in my head. Even when I’ve done a good job, I can’t help feeling it could have been better. Also, I find it hard to have enough time to quench my desire to be creative. I feel guilty a lot when I say to my children – ‘that’s it now, I can’t read anymore – its time for me to write.’ They always want me to read more, talk more, play more, but in the evenings particularly as the time ticks by, I have less and less to give to whatever project I’m working on and I miss it. If I start to regularly lose time on my own projects, I start to feel resentful and snappy – which isn’t fair on them.
Finally, what or who is your inspo?
My novel was inspired by the metals that I work with. I wanted to tell people a story that would bring them into my world of metal craft and make them reconsider what they think they know about the greatest metal-myth of all time – alchemy. Other people’s work tends to inspire my own – I’ve read at least a novel a week throughout most of my life and many of them have inspired me to be creative on my own account, the same can be said for the music that I listen to and the art that I love (particularly, the Venetian Golden Age and The Italian Baroque).