INTERVIEW: LAURA LANCASTER | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Kuba Ryniewicz

Acclaimed Hartlepool-born, Newcastle-based painter Laura Lancaster presents her largest solo show to date at Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art this month.

The accomplished painter’s work focuses on the reinterpretation of image; using found photographs, slides and home movies she finds at flea markets and online auctions, her paintings allow the viewer to interact with the image in a new way. “Recently my paintings have become more and more mediated, with drawing, cropping, underpainting and the process itself allowing the original image to change and distort, depending on what in particular I want to draw out of the original image.” She explains.

Her creative process allows Laura to connect to painting in a much broader sense, she explains what draws her to an image: “An intuitive feeing that there’s more to say – that I can have a conversation with the image in paint and give it a new life. It could be a sense of movement or a feeling which I’d like to attempt to get across in paint, or a sense of light or colour. I’m interested in how remaking an image in paint can change how it’s read, how a potentially banal, everyday snapshot can take on an iconic quality and be interpreted in a new way.”

I’m interested in how remaking an image in paint can change how it’s read

Her latest exhibition, entitled My Echo, My Shadow, will include a broad spectrum of her work, from the initial stage drawings she bases her work on, to the striking paintings themselves. “I use drawing and acrylic sketches to explore each image and get a feel for how it might translate in paint. I’ll then do a very broad acrylic under painting on canvas to map out the image and get a sense of it. The smaller paintings are done in a very spontaneous way – where larger paintings are done with buckets of oil paint I’ve mixed in advance, this helps get a good amount of volume of paint, which is necessary to get the sense of movement and physicality I want to achieve. Then the painting process itself is a process of action and reaction, until the image emerges.”

While she admits a relatively recent shift in focus to more water-based imagery, perhaps due to her move to the coast a few years ago, Laura explains that she’s interested in the way a specific subject can open up to relate to something broader, to a collective memory. With much of her art depicting women in classical poses, her work delves into the history of painting and readdresses the position of the female figure. “The subjects I depict are quite often regarding themselves in mirrors or reflections, or are self-conscious in some way, they are not as passive as female subjects that have been depicted in painting historically.”

Inevitably, the artist has a heightened awareness of the way in which we consume images, which has continued to inform her work. “The advances in technology over the last twenty years or so since I graduated have meant images are circulated and consumed at a higher rate than ever before. It feels like the specific qualities of painting – its stillness, uniqueness, muteness – could all be valuable in this context.”

Laura Lancaster: My Echo, My Shadow is exhibited at Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland from Saturday 16th March-Sunday 30th June.

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