An interview with Laura New – by Roshan Langley

Laura New, all round talented artist and we here at Sweet ‘Art have had the brilliant opportunity to ask her a few questions about her and her work! Heres what she had to say!

 

 Who would you say is an inspiration beBethan+toned.jpghind your art and how have they impacted it?

Certainly at the moment I am pretty fanatical about performance artist Marina Abramović for the very reason that she works with the concept of simplicity as the basis for her work which is very much what I try to do with my own.  She’s also infectiously determined and her courageousness and self-belief are something to aspire to.

 

 What do you think is different about your art? 

It feels hard to consider anything as ‘different’ anymore. I’m certainly not trying to break any mould, I just really enjoy making work and am always concentrating on trying to improve and develop with every piece.

 What is it you really want to say through your various works?

I try to keep it simple. Deconstructing very simple ideas or moments and spending time examining that over large series of work.

 

 How do you see your art developing over the next 10 years?

I don’t really think about where it might be so far into the future. Every piece is a way to learn mistakes to avoid in the next and so on. I used to be terrified of portraiture because the pressure to a
chieve likeness was so overwhelming it became frustratingly obstructive, so I had no idea 5 years ago for instance that I would find myself doing an entire series of portraits.  This is why the Eyes Closed series has been somewhat challenging because I’ve had to push those boundaries I  made for myself. Also in all honesty, achieving a likeness is much harder without Kingfisher I.jpg
the recognisable gaze of the subject and so by eliminating that I unwittingly made it even harder! I do though plan to continue with portraiture and figurative studies after this series is finished.

 What would you say is the purpose of your art? 

It’s something in my life that I feel consistently compelled to do. I have never stopped making and don’t think I ever would. By making it a priority, I commit myself to it but I would be lying if I didn’t also admit that one of the drivers for consistently working is the affirmation that I receive for doing so. I realise that is quite a controversial thing to admit but my self-worth is intrinsically linked to the output of my own work and the reaction I receive from viewers, the offers of further exhibitions and the way that what I do leads to other areas of creativity. I don’t expect to please everyone but for those I do I get a great deal of satisfaction out of it which helps fight the ever present feeling of self doubt that I think all artists suffer from. Therefore I suppose, the purpose is simply by examining things in my life through my work I am only really seeking to further value and understand myself.

 

 

In your series ‘Eyes Closed’ is there a deeper meaning? What is the significance of the eyes being closed? Eyes Closed self portrait (Laura) detail1.jpg

I’m so much more comfortable with creating work based on simple concepts and then complicating them.  Things you might not necessarily spend time pondering.  In this instance , the starting point of this series was when I asked to draw from a photograph of someone I used to know.  He happened to have his eyes closed in the picture and I noticed how much this changed the portrayal of him.  This was a person who’s genuine vulnerability was very cleverly masked in most part but the simple capture of him with his eyes closed showed something quite different.  Although posed, he seemed far gentler and kinder than he really was. By choosing to draw from this image I wanted to almost ritualistically observe that moment in detail.

After that one I wanted to see how this would work with others so began to ask people to take photographs for me. Most of these people I know well, admire in many cases but others were unknown to me.  Interestingly that by way of approaching them in order to ask for them to take part in the project, I have ended up having long running dialogues with them, learned more about them and so established a different element to the relationship with that person.

I also started to think about how these drawings reminded me of death masks and in a similar way of creating a cast of someone’s face in death, they become mementos of the moment the image came into existence and the place they existed in my own life. I can eventually imagine standing in a room of these portraits and being able to tell a story about each one and the connection between each person.

 

Eyes Closed - Gwilym.jpg What are your practice techniques and routines? How do you start and develop your new projects? 

When I’m working I tend to do so quite intensively.  I spend many hours and days at a time working solidly because time is precious when working with so much detail.  It’s the time between these intensive periods that I think of something new that I want to work on.  Then I begin researching and developing the idea and then it just seems to be a natural progress from there.

 

 

 

You have done a lot of illustration work, do you feel more attached to that practice?

I consider my illustration work to be quite separate and I really enjoy working to a client’s brief and being part of bringing together someone else’s ideas. Music is hugely important to me and lately I have been working with a number of bands to produce the artwork for their album covers, websites etc. I’m also now working exclusively with the band Saint Agnes and contributing in terms of artistic direction, creating illustrations, props and image ideas for videos.  I’ve found this work to be very fulfilling in a different way as working collaboratively is extremely rewarding.

 

Your works are very clear, and detailed, is this something which has developed over the years or something which just came naturally? How does it benefit your images also? 

I went to art school at a time where technique and execution came second to theory and the conceptual awareness of an idea itself. I was longing for a strict regime of life drawing and a more ‘traditional’ form of teaching and whilst I enjoyed the freedom of looking at my ideas and executing them expressively, I did feel I missed out on something. So after finishing my degree, I spent many years of my own practice studying still life in the form of taxidermy and entomology. I bought skulls to draw and paint from and spent time at the Angela Marmont Centre at the Natural History Museum where they allowed me to use one of the labs to study the huge array of insects, some of which were  original specimens. I have put hundreds of hours into drawing birds and animals purely for the purpose of improving my drawing skills but found that often these were the pieces people wanted to buy.

With that amount of continual practice I have reached a point where I can execute ideas with a technical confidence I didn’t have before but there’s so much more I want to learn.

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