“Her passion is getting people to engage and notice.” Artist of the Week – Lynette Merrick
Brighton Journal spoke to daughter, Rachel, about the intricate wildlife illustrations of Lynette Merrick.
Lynette Merrick is a wildlife illustrator who has produced over 1,000 images of common British species by hand in the last few years. Now 78-years-old and busier than ever with her work, Brighton Journal spoke to her daughter, Rachel, about her mother’s illustrations and creating LM Licensing to share her artistic legacy.
With a background in education, Lynette is dedicated to sharing both her knowledge of art and wildlife in her community. “Her saying in life is the David Attenborough saying: ‘Unless children notice the beauty of the natural world, they are never going to conserve it’” Rachel explained. “Her passion is getting people to engage and notice, which is always a challenge in this computerised environment that we live in.”
Her parents lived in Brighton from just before the second world war until around 1946. Lynette was born in Cambridge after her mother was evacuated prior to the Battle of Britain, returning to Brighton until her father’s accountancy practice took them to London around 1946.
Lynette had other ties to the Brighton area, as her grandmother lived in Rottingdean, so she has a wealth of memories from there and Brighton when she visited as a child. Rottingdean and walking in the South Downs was an early inspiration for her work.
After many years of teaching, Lynette set up her own company, merging her love of education with her artwork: “She saw a gap in the market for good quality identification guides for wildlife and then decided to go ahead and illustrate every single one and produce her own identification guides.”
The idea for Gatekeeper Educational was born; compiling her illustrations into identification guides on butterflies, birds, insects, grasses, trees, fruits and wildflowers. These are mainly used for educational establishments such as schools and outdoor centres.
Rachel outlined the differences in her mother’s work as an artistic discipline: “It’s being able to draw something that’s structurally correct, scientifically correct, in order for an identification purpose. It’s not an artwork that’s for pleasure I suppose, it’s more of an artwork for a function – even though she loves it and is good at it – her function for that is identification.”
Last year, Rachel launched LM Licensing to provide a new platform of her mother’s nature illustrations for commercial use all over the world. “That’s the next stage of it that I’m doing on her behalf. Primarily, because every time I go to the house another bundle of illustrations falls out the cupboard.”
On top of her illustrative work, Lynette continues her devotion to education through workshops in sculpture and nature tours with children, using her identification guides as a source of inspiration to children. Rachel highlighted her mother’s educational drive is very strong in her, often motivating the children she teaches to produce incredible work themselves.
“She’s quite prolific because most 78-year-old people would be retired but she doesn’t stop. My father described her as like living with a wasp.” Rachel said when Lynette is not working or teaching, she manages a small area of woodland she owns and enjoys walking, constantly immersing herself in natural surroundings.
Rachel described how Lynette’s passion for nature will never fade: “It all ties in with the idea of observation and getting people to look, which is an enormous challenge. Getting people to look, eventually, you can teach them to draw and hopefully engage them in a bit more nature and what’s around them.”
You can view Lynette’s wildlife illustrations on the LM Licensing website.