Thursday, February 24, 2011

Speaking with Laura Williams

Tell us a little about your background
I grew up in Australind, an hour and a bit south of perth. We had a beautiful house that was surrounded by bush and looked out over the estuary.

Did you grow up in a creative environment?
Yeah, my family is pretty creative but in different ways. There is a lot of quilting and sewing and cooking and gardening and music and generally making lots of things - everyone has their projects and we are a fairly practical family. We have always been encouraged to follow whatever we were interested in and I was always making stuff and had little projects on the go all the time. Papier mache bowls, necklaces, paper clay, paintings, sewing pencil cases in the shape of elephants...

One of my brothers is a graphic designer too (also with lots of painting and screenprinting and other projects on the go) so we often bounce ideas off each other and get another opinion on things. It is great having a family with lots of skills in different areas because if I am unsure of how to do something, someone else usually knows!

Who/what are some of your creative influences?
I get inspired by lots of artists, movies, books, music and often just things i see or come across. In terms of artists, I really like artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Cressida Campbell, Margaret Preston, Clarice Beckett and lots of others. I also have a general love for patterned fabrics and papers. I recently realised that I collect a lot of things too (having had to pack it all up!). I have a lot of postcards of reproductions from exhibitions, fabrics, buttons, jewellery, beads – elements of these things inspire me , even if it is just the colours.

I also have a couple of lever arch files that are filled with pages that I have ripped out of old magazines or just general images that I have found. They are mainly of places and objects - gardens, plants, landscapes, animals, all kinds of things, but I've found this is a really useful resource if I am feeling stuck. I like to be surrounded by stuff that relates to what I'm working on, so at the moment there are a lot of photos of plants and gardens everywhere.

What do you like about Perth? How do you think living in Perth has influenced your work?
The lifestyle and the weather in Perth is pretty great and I really like looking at all the beautiful gardens in the streets around the house I have been living in. I do like the beach too – I feel pretty lucky to be able to go swimming at the beach in the morning and see a school of fish swimming next to me. I think that in some ways I am usually more influenced by other places i visit though or the photographs I have brought back with me. I get inspired in places where there is a lot of natural space and I feel like I need to get out of my current environment every once in a while for a bit of a refresher.

You are moving to Melbourne soon! Will you be continuing your practice there and what creatively are you looking forward to most?
Yes, I’ve actually just arrived! It’s quite exciting and I am planning to continue to paint and draw and make things but I’ll probably have a little break from exhibiting for a while and just focus on the making. I find going to new places really exciting: working out where things are and what I find interesting and how everything operates. I guess I am just looking forward to taking everything in and I’m planning to see as much and learn as much as I can too.

What are some of your creative goals?
I tend to look at everything I do as a learning curve, whether its how to use a material better or just hopefully improving my skills and techniques as I go. Every so often, I have a little bout of extra enthusiasm and start entering works in lots of exhibitions and putting ideas together for possible shows. In reality though, my goals are more about what I am working on at one particular moment. It always feels as if there isn’t enough time for everything. I guess this is a good way to be as I always have the next project or idea waiting in the back of my mind. It is more a matter of trying to get these ideas and images that I have in my mind onto paper as best I can - that is always the main goal.

What are some of your favourite materials to work with?
I have been working on paper for a while now and most recently with watercolours. My favourite part is putting the first wash of colour onto the paper. I like the way that painting of any kind always feels like something that you gradually learn more and more about but there is always more to know. I also did quite a lot of video and animation work while I was studying and I am quite keen to do some more. I like the way it challenges me to bring time into the equation and the ideas are no longer only about 1 or 2 images.

Any medium you would like to explore that you haven’t done yet?
I would like to try using oils sometime soon as I haven't really done much oil painting before. I have also been experimenting with resin recently and I'm really enjoying working out how to get different effects and seeing what it can do so that is definitely something i would like to explore a little bit more

Are there constant themes you are attracted to in your work?
I am usually drawn to natural themes - gardens, plants, insects, water, weather - i find these things endlessly fascinating. Over the past year or so I have mainly been focussing on gardens and plants and most recently, I have been doing some mini watercolour works in the shape of windows looking out into gardens. I guess I'm trying to make the works have the same effect as a nice window - a view into a calm sanctuary. I do also like drawing cute things too so every so often I do a bunch of drawings of tiny smiling snails or checked pigs or something!

Do you tend to work in a studio, from home or both? What is your workspace like?
I just work wherever I can but I have usually had a dedicated corner to work in with a table or a little bit of bench space. I have had a beautiful studio in Subiaco over the last few months and I think this was really good for my work. Prior to that I had always worked at home, so it was a good way to see if I could work somewhere else. It made me a lot more disciplined (no web browsing!) and probably a lot more productive too. Having said that though, I need a lot of things around me to be able to work effectively: paints, other materials, books and images that relate to what I'm working on - I always seem to surround myself with stuff. Hence, wherever I am working is also always a really messy area!!

Do you listen to anything when you are working? If so, what?
While i am working I usually listen to music or audiobooks depending on what I am working on. If I am doing really detailed and repetitive work, I find that listening to books really helps me work longer and not get distracted. Most of the time I listen to music though, and i like all kinds of things so it really depends on my mood. For some reason, Joanna Newsom's music and the Ys album in particular instantly inspires me but lately I've also been listening to Arcade Fire, Laura Marling, LCD Soundsystem, The National and Dan Sultan amongst lots of other things.

Where can people find out more about your work?
I have a blog:
and an etsy store:

Any future shows coming up?
Not in the near future. I'm just planning to concentrate on the making side of things for a little while and then see how i go, check the blog for updates on this one though!

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