What are the motivations underlining as to why you create?
It depends on the day, often it stems from my thought life and working out ways to express and to communicate what I’ve been chewing over. Sometimes I create just to make something I like to look at. Many times I am motivated by loved ones, and their spaces, to create. I describe myself as a" narrative artist"… I’m not sure if it's a real thing though, haha. But I have a background in film production, I have worked in music, art, design, creative leadership and management spaces. I see what I do as different uses of the same tools. Telling stories, expressing and organizing thoughts in ways that communicate to audiences. My background in film making made me really conscious of creating for an audience and I think that out of that I have become really aware that I love watching people respond to art. But now, I prefer it on a one to one basis rather than en mass (like in my film back ground) I now imagine my audience as an individual who I am communicating to and imagine how they would respond. Even if it's just me, making something beautiful to remind myself of its importance. I think I am most motivated by Art being utilized (seeing it in homes or discussed or in peoples hands) I love that I can make something for a child to remind them of something important and that is as gratifying to me as hanging art in a gallery would be. I love that I can draw someone's attention to a detail or something beautiful I have noticed in a fleeting moment and that it might stay with them for a long time. Or at least I hope that is how it works. I believe that when I am creating, I am connected to a creator so that, somehow, the heart of something bigger than me is accessible to others. This doesn't always play out in deep abstract ways. Sometimes it is super simple, like sketching a bunch of daisies on a receipt for a child in a restaurant.
What is the process you go through when you are commissioned to create? For example, what was the process like working on Anna’s book?
Working on commissions is often a really different process… it usually begins with me meeting with a client and helping them put words to an idea they have had. Sometimes it's super straight forward like “Here’s a photo of my dog or a building I love - can you paint it in this size, in this medium and by this date?… oh and here’s my budget” But mostly it's a process of preproduction… me asking a million questions and looking at ideas and trying to pull everything out of a client's head. Working on Anna’s book was a unique experience in that it was really collaborative. She had thoughts and concepts and you (as the designer) had a vision to pull it together. You both gave me such freedom to find a way to express and make sure the images worked with the words. It was unique in that there were three interpretations and visions to weave together.
Who are a handful of your favourite artists?
Oh, hard to narrow down, but for me it is usually connected to story. I'll just list some visual artists I love. I have always ADORED impressionism because it makes you FEEL as an emotional response to light and colour. Currently I am loving work by Mark Maggiori for his big beautiful contrasty landscapes and skies. I love CJ Hendry- the way that she approaches her exhibitions and series. Its so fun! I love the way that Margaret Olley generously mentored other artists and shared her home life with her art. Frida Kahlo is also a fave of mine for using her art for deep personal expression as well as speaking out for what was right to her. My all time favourites are always my friends and my brother and sisters because their art is so connected to my story. At the moment my youngest sister, Grace Bentley (who is one of the most gifted makers I know) is producing really beautiful miniature oil paintings from life around her and they remind me of every reason I love art. Also my dear friend Jessica Leclerc, is continually putting out phenomenal art, inspiring me with her powerful work ethic. Walking with artists and experiencing the source of their art always makes me love their art the most! My allllll time favorite art work to stand in front of is a JW Turner painting in the NGV called “Falls of Schaffhausen” 1845… It is different to many of my other faves but it glows and sometimes I dream about stepping into it.
If you could collaborate with just ONE, who would it be?
I would probably like to collaborate with Mark Maggiori at the moment… because I feel like heading overseas and planting myself directly into the stories and landscapes he is painting. I’d probably have to overcome my fear of being close to horses though… so it's problematic.
How long have you been creating for?
I firmly believe we spring from the womb creative… so always.
Practically though, my parents are awesome. They are both really creative and also raised us in the midst of a generous lifestyle- our home was always filled with artists, musicians and anyone else who wanted to be part of the good times. So it was very normal in our house to be making and creating. My Dad was working as a designer for much of my childhood, as well as working with musicians and touring. So some of my earliest memories are either helping run productions or talking about typesetting and design layouts with my Dad.
What do you love about teaching art?
I love that teaching multiplies my story telling ability. I know that much of art is skill based (opposed to the perception that it's mostly giftedness) if someone is willing to learn and apply time to the skill they can learn to do things they didn’t know they could. Watching people do the work and then shock themselves that they are able NEVER gets old. I love that we get to give people a second chance to connect with their soul through creativity. We have so many students who were told at some point in their childhood that they were not creative (THIS MAKES ME FURIOUS) and then they come back decades later (sometimes in their 70s/80s/90s) wanting to try and overcome their fear. It's beautiful to see them finally realize that they had it in them all along and that it's not too late. We have students who come just for community and a space where they find connection. Something magical always happens in a room where people are vulnerably creating together. Teaching also lines up with a conviction that I have that art is for everyone. We have hundreds of students, from all walks of life sitting and creating together every week. Sometimes I'll look around and smile because I'll see a beautiful combo of people just loving eachother that would otherwise be unlikely, such as a conservative woman in her 50s, sitting by a teen in the middle of an identity crises who is happily chatting to an Anglican minister who is encouraging a young man with sever autism.I also love that once people work hard on the skills, they find it provides a strong foundation for their natural giftedness and creativity to flourish on.
What does vulnerability look like and mean to you?
Authenticity is a big deal for me so I have found myself having to be vulnerable so so much in my life. Maybe knowing myself, that I am always thinking and working things out has made it hard for me to sometimes land on a fixed answer for my life. I generally feel vulnerable sharing my thoughts and revelations because I feel like as I keep growing, they will change. I have had some big mental health battles in the past few years and opening those up for public discussion in the hope that it will continue to help others and show people what it looks like to live well with anxiety or to continue to overcome depressive seasons will normalise it and keep helping people get on with living.
Hello my sweet friend, (and teacher!) How wonderfully our lives have intermingled, from the moment I met you at the art school where you teach (and I am so lucky to now be a student at!), to work on Anna’s book; ‘Skin’ which I designed and photographed and you created incredible artworks for— to here! Thankyou for agreeing to let me probe you with you questions. I am sure that those who read will indeed be blessed by your wisdom. Tell us a bit about yourself...
YO- thanks for the opportunity to spill my thoughts into this interview...
I am a sunshine coast dabbler, an artist who loves working with people, solving problems and finding ways to show people how big & beautiful life is. I have three daughters, a handsome kind husband and the best doggy in the whole world.
Where in the world are you as you answer these questions?
At this moment I am on my bed- I often walk in the front door, turn immediately right and plop onto my generous bed. As soon as we bought our first home (this one) I painted our bedroom DARK green… I love it too much- it's a big room and it feels like a rich cosy space. Home is such a sanctuary for me and I love pottering around, hanging art (from Artists I know, love and or my kiddos) Our house sits in a lovely quiet sunshine coast suburb- surrounded by parks, walking space, palm trees and a short hop to a great national park hike. We didn’t expect to live where we are but have found such solace here. I hope that wherever I live (and, before this house, we moved 10 times in 10 years) that people feel inspired and welcomed in our space. That it provides a backdrop for great conversations and humor and rest.
You are a beloved mamma to three sweet girls, how have you navigated creative endeavours and also the demands of being a mamma?
Araminta, Holiday and Florence Liberty are my favorite and biggest creative endeavors.
When I had my first daughter, Minti, I really had to work through some stuff. I think I had been working for so long in the film arena, managing and leading and traveling the world, then all of a sudden I stopped. I was faced with some big questions. Is who I am wrapped up in what I DO? When that is put away- then who am I? Then, the associated guilt that I should even feel anything but grateful to be able to be a mother after struggling to fall pregnant for a while. But facing those questions and really pulling it all apart brought me to a place that has set me in good stead as I have navigated loads of change in my last 13 years of motherhood. I came to a place (and honestly, have to keep coming back to that place) where I am reminded that who I am is not bound up in what I do for work. (or in being a mother for that matter) That priorities shift and change continually so I make plans and decisions about what I can do and contribute creatively to on a case by case basis and in short seasons only. I adore being with my kids and have loved bringing the girls with me when I do choose to do things that I love. I also don’t feel like motherhood has undermined or detracted from my story telling or creativity, it's only enhanced and enlarged my creativity. Somehow, through the pregnancies and newborn and toddler and child rearing years, I have managed to keep tapping into beautiful creative outlets, say yes to really fun opportunities and find ways to keep growing. I should also note that my husband is excellent and sees such value in me and what I bring to the world so he is always problem solving with me to find ways to logistically work out kids and life things.
How would you define beauty?
Wherever there is light or life there is beauty. In all that is pure and good. In brokenness or wholeness… God in all things means I can find beauty everywhere.
follow lauren's journey on the platform below—
Season Two of Interviews with Artists on Lola Ziggy.
In love and in flowers,