We are delighted to welcome back Laura for a second exhibition with us here at Wonky Wheel. We are excited to have Laura’s art collection on display from 3rd September to 3rd October 2021
What does it mean to you to be featured in Wonky Wheel’s Summer Exhibition 2021?
This exhibition is really important to me because it has given me something to look forward to and a focus to work towards during the pandemic. The Wonky Wheel is a wonderful gallery in a beautiful part of the world and Mary works with such passion for the art and artists she chooses. I loved exhibiting at the Wonky Wheel last year and I’m thrilled to be asked back again!
What motivates you for this exhibition?
Having an exhibition is always a great motivator in itself because there is something to work towards. I want to share my love of the countryside with others and I hope people will find some solace of their own in the paintings.
Who do you anticipate will be the audience of ‘Wild Solace’?
I hope that lots of people will find something that resonates with them in ‘Wild Solace’. It is a description of how local flora and fauna have acted as a sort of mental sanctuary for us over the past 18 months. This has been the case for me since I was a small child when I would escape from real life into a den or up a tree but it has been an essential lifeline for me during recent times. I hope that anyone who has an interest in wildlife, flowers or the countryside will find something that they connect with in some way.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the new artwork for this exhibition?
There are several new pieces in this exhibition - and they continue my exploration into the flora and fauna of the British countryside.
The stag and jackdaw in ‘I’ve got your back’ make a lovely pair, showing the power of symbiotic relationships in the wild. The comfortable connection between the two different species was really special to watch so I wanted to capture their relationship in paint.
Pheasants are a regular feature of the east Anglian fields. I spotted ‘Stealth’ in North Norfolk creeping through some long grass. Everything about the way a pheasant moves is so distinctive to their species. Pheasants are always interesting to paint because you have to strike a balance between realism and pattern-making for their feathers. In this one the grasses continue the process using elements of realism and abstraction together.
I love flowers and this is reflected in the largest piece in the exhibition: a huge painting of cherry blossom called ‘Ephemeral Beauty’. Cherry blossom is always stunning but is never around for long. I wanted to capture that fleeting moment of beauty in a fixed image, whilst recognising that it is part of an ongoing cycle of change in reality. For me it shows hope and renewal, following the cycles and rhythms of nature - and the promise of possible fruit to come!
‘Light and Shadow (birch)’ is a small painting focused on a section of bark from a birch tree. I love to find the beautiful and unique moments in things that might otherwise be overlooked. Birch bark is one of my favourite subjects to paint because it enables me to move playfully between abstraction and realism by picking out details and exploring the shapes and textures.
What makes a great artist in your opinion?
I think great artists can see things in a way that most of us don’t. Or it could be said that we don’t spend enough time cultivating the art of looking. They can see truthfully and can translate that insight into an artwork that communicates with others and elicits a response. I believe a great artwork has its own truth but keeps itself open to others’ viewpoints. So the viewer can bring their own meanings and stories to it as well. A great artist recognises that their input is not the end of the story.
Artists are varied in style, media, technique and method. Something that can help people work towards being a ‘great’ artist is not just finding that elusive essence in your subject, but being truthful to yourself. It’s about being able to articulate your understanding of the world in your chosen medium and communicate that in an honest way. For some artists that is in huge abstract paintings, for others it is in an installation or sculpture - or a piece of music. I love paint and I lean towards artists who use paint. In my opinion the key qualities of a truly great artist are: curiosity, thoughtfulness, connection, insight and integrity. These are qualities I try to cultivate myself but I know I have a very long way to go!
If you are always curious about the world, open to learning, know how to look and see what is truly there (rather than your preconception or what you think is there), then you are well on your way to becoming a better artist. That and lots of practice!
Can you describe one artwork or collection that you feel was pivotal in your career so far?
There are a few moments that change the direction you take throughout your career. One of the important moments for me a few years ago was deciding to paint my dear old greyhound Sasha (who has sadly now passed on). The revelation of using paint to bring something you care about to life in a different way was quite revealing. Paint has a life that a photograph doesn’t - no matter how realistically it is applied.
In a way every piece moves you forward or changes you a little bit because every painting is a process for learning - even if it’s just an accidental brushstroke. Or something that went wrong that you decide never to repeat!
A couple of years ago I painted two of the large Elmer the elephant sculptures for the public art trail ‘Elmers Big Parade’ in Ipswich. It was a very different sort of challenge for me - working on a huge, three dimensional shape. It opened the door for me to create works on a much bigger scale. I think I only had the vision and confidence to paint something the scale of ‘Ephemeral Beauty’ because of my experience painting a huge elephant sculpture!
If you could choose any artist to do your portrait, who would it be and what instructions would you give them?
If I could choose any artist from history to paint my portrait, it would be John Singer-Sargent. I wouldn’t give any instructions because he was the ultimate master of portraiture!
I would like you to write a short note to your younger self about your artist career, (your journey, how it started, what you have learned along the way, and if anything, what you would do differently)
I would say to my younger self: stop trying to please other people (especially art school tutors!) and focus on what is important to you. Listen to yourself and believe in your own ideas. Paint what you enjoy painting! That, however, is the easy part - the hard part will be finding out who you are and understanding what is most important to you. Good luck, enjoy the process - and try not to be so critical of yourself! (I would say these things but I know for a fact I wouldn’t listen!!)
Author: Wonky Wheel & Laura Beardsell-Moore
Last Updated: 18th September 2021