Laura, Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?LA: I am English but for nearly seven years I have been living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with my husband and slightly wild but lovely children.
I graduated in Textiles from Goldsmiths College at the University of London in 2003. After graduating I moved to Amsterdam and started working in the costume Atelier of the National Ballet and Opera house, which was both amazing and daunting (not speaking that much Dutch at the time).
Then life became pretty busy with babies and toddlers, although I have always made things, whether that be my wedding dress, paintings, gifts or clothes for my kids.
Here in Amsterdam I am surrounded by incredible fabric stores, which are a constant source of inspiration. I often draw inspiration from very ordinary things, I love simple lines and subtle color combinations. My two passions are textiles and illustration and I have endeavored to combine the two in my work.
So has working in this medium always been your passion?
LA: I have always enjoyed mixed media art work. It was whilst doing an Art and Design Foundation course that I really became hooked on textiles which then lead me on to my Degree. I love the physicality of working with textiles and have always been interested in it's language and history.
Wow, I see that you worked at the Costume Atelier at the National Ballet and Opera House! What was that like?
LA: It was pretty nerve racking! In London I used to work on the West End show MammaMia so I did have experience of working in Theatre wardrobe departments, but the Atelier at the Opera house really put my sewing skills to the test. I was working with amazing seamstresses in a very traditional environment, the amount of work and skill that went in to the costumes was incredible. I learned a lot while I was there, including a lot of useful Dutch words that make my Dutch sound more impressive than it actually is in my local haberdashery shop.
Let's talk a bit about your textile canvases. I just love the color palettes you use in your work, and the imagery itself (I'm a huge fan of the umbrellas)! Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
LA: I really enjoy putting colors together, often a piece can begin with color rather than an image. I love 1950s fashion illustrations and have recently been interested in exploring old proverbs and poetry and seeing how I can translate them visually. The titles of my pieces are important, I sometimes think I should stitch them on to the canvas. Drawing forms a crucial part of my work and inspiration, I have been trying to dedicate half an hour to sketching before I go to bed. Above all, for my most recent set of work I wanted to make people smile and be able to relate to the image easily.
I read that you layer fabric to create the muted colors we see in the finished pieces - do you want to talk at all about your process?
LA: My canvases are mostly made up of three layers, I cut shapes, layer other material in between and finally machine stitch the detail on top. The top layer is a cotton muslin which mutes the colors and pulls the image together. Often the cottons and laces that I use in the lower layers are very bright, the muslin gives them depth and texture.
Your textile canvases are so beautifully detailed - how much time do you spend on each piece?
LA: This can really vary, it also depends on how many cups of tea I decide to have! Plus I get distracted by trying out different colour combinations. The cutting and sewing on a smaller piece is usually a few hours work, I then mount them on wooden frames which I finish off with fabric on the back and add a hanger.
Being the mother of "slightly wild" children, when do you find time for your creative pursuits?
LA: Hmmm yes time is not bountiful when you have a 3 year old and another verging on 2. I work from my studio at home, I am lucky enough to have a little designated 'work' time and a very supportive husband. I like that my children are growing up in a creative house and they are used to my work being around. My daughter simply loves routing through my button collection and my son thinks I am Bob the Builder when I am making my frames.
Where can we see more of your work?
Thank you, Laura!