FEATURED ARTISTLaura Parker
I’ve been steeped in art all my life – as a kid, I wasn’t dragged round galleries and museums … I was dragged OUT of them!
So it was a natural progression after school to go to Paris and Rome, for a year each, to study history of art and architecture there. My time in Rome was the most influential – to have so many centuries and layers of art to explore and soak up all in one city was amazing. Then, in my 40s, I went to Kingston University to do a BA in History of Art and Architecture, and History of Ideas, graduating in 1997. So for many years, art was something I loved & studied but it never occurred to me to try to create my own work.
After my degree, I got a job at Michael Wilford and Partners, Architects, doing their PR and Archiving, and I ended up in sole charge of the enormous and fascinating James Stirling Archive – arguably the foremost British architect of the 20th century.
Following that, I worked for Rick Mather Architects in a similar role – his work with glass is remarkable, and it was a joy to do the PR for projects such as the extensions at Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Ashmolean Museum and the Wallace Collection.
It was only when I left Rick’s that I began to explore painting myself. I had no teacher, I attended no lessons, but I had such a strong foundation with all the art and architecture I had studied and been immersed in, that I began to trust my own way of looking or rather, to quote John Berger, my own way of seeing.
Since then, for 20 years now, I’ve been exploring different ways of depicting the world around me. In the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to discover two wonderful mentors, both in America. I have participated in Plein Air painting workshops with Ian Roberts and online colour workshops with Patti Mollica, which have helped push me towards greater experimentation, adding mixed media and collage to my usual work in acrylics or oils.
It has been a joy to become an exhibiting member of Richmond Art Society, and I felt privileged to join the Committee. My works have been shown in all the RAS exhibitions since I joined in 2014, and it’s always fun to help with doing the hang for each show – I’ve learnt a lot about hanging ‘on the job’ with other members!
My landscape paintings are worked both ‘en plein air’ and in the studio, and are inspired by my travels abroad as well as places closer to home. I enjoy finding abstract qualities in the landscapes around us, and recently I have also been stimulated by the effects of climate change.
My series of paintings of the underwater world (‘en pleine mer’!), based on my experiences as a scuba diver, has again developed an increasingly abstract quality. Wrecks are haunting places, where strange spectral shapes loom up out of the gloom and, in those deep waters, colour fades away and light reflects and refracts in unexpected ways.
I paint still lifes to further my exploration of colour, and love capturing distorted reflections in glass and metal objects, or instilling the still life with a contemporary feel by using bold crops and vivid colours, to create dynamic and engaging works.
Overall, my aim as a painter is to express the hidden beauty that I find in objects and scenes perhaps not typically considered to be an artist’s subject matter.
Explaining a picture is impossible. The very reason it has been painted is because it cannot be explained in any other way. – Edvard Munch