The studio of Sydney artist Laura Jones.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.

Poppies, 2012, oil on linen, 70cm x 86cm.  By Sydney artist Laura Jones.

The studio of Sydney artist Laura Jones.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.

Summer Flowers, 2012, oil on linen, 70cm x 86cm.  By Sydney artist Laura Jones.

 Laura Jones in her studio.  Flowers by Mikarla Shailer Bauer of Rococo Flowers.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.

I’m often guilty of focussing a little too much on Melbourne creative happenings…  I know I know, it’s a very bad habit.  I try my best to cover everything, but you know, a girl can only be in one place at one time!  SO I do always love it when an unexpected treasure pops up in my inbox, especially when it comes from a little farther afield.

Sydney artist Laura Jones sent me a sweet email recently introducing herself and her work, and including a bunch of stunning photographs of her studio taken by her friend, photographer Carine Thevenau.  WOW, lucky me, discovering an amazing new artist AND an excellent new photographer in one hit!  Thanks Laura – and thankyou Carine for sharing your beautiful shots with us.

Laura is a talented painter of both still lifes and portraits, and was shortlisted for the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize last year (that is a serious big deal!).  However it’s her recent works which really caught my eye - a series of beautiful still life paintings depicting floral arrangements, brought to life with Laura’s intense layers of oil paint and bold, heavy brushstrokes.  Laura paints all her flowers from life, which means she has to work relatively quickly, before the cut stems begin to wilt in her studio.  You certainly get a sense of this urgency in her work – despite the delicate subject matter, the paintings seems so spontaneous and energetic!

Some of Laura’s recent flower paintings are currently on show as part of a public art exhibition called ‘The Conductors Project‘ in Sydney.  This unique project rotates artists monthly, displaying artworks inside old glass cabinets within two of Sydney’s most beautiful old train stations.  ‘I love the idea that it intercepts people’s daily commute in an unexpected way’ says Laura.

Sydneysiders can check out Laura’s work on display at St James and Museum stations until Feb 9th 2013.  She also has a solo exhibition coming up in March at Maunsell Wickes Gallery in Paddington (1st- 15th of March).

We asked Laura a few questions about her background and her work -

Can you give us a little background about your career – did you always want to be an artist? What led to the style of painting you are doing now?

I did always want to be an artist! I think I always was one! But when I left school I studied Japanese at Sydney Uni. I loved the language and had lived in Japan as an exchange student. It was a fantastic experience but even my science teacher over there thought that I should be an artist! I just didn’t think it was possible to become one.

I finished my degree, went for an interview in a high-rise in Sydney, realised it wasn’t for me and walked straight out of the building and enrolled in a Master of Art at the College of Fine Arts. I can’t even remember if I got the job or not! Nothing’s ever a waste though. There are many similarities with learning a language and painting.

At CoFA, I studied painting and majored in printmaking. It completely opened my eyes and I got so much out of it. I met a lot of professional artists during my time there.
Meeting artists showed me how it was done! I learnt that developing your own language in art is something that you need to do yourself by working hard at it in the studio, so after I graduated I got a studio straight away.

I’ve been painting a lot of flowers lately. They are a joy to paint, I don’t know why I didn’t start painting them sooner! I grew up in Kurrajong near the Blue Mountains in a house that was always full of flowers. I have also worked part time in flower shops ever since I was a student. I paint a bit of everything, and love painting people, but have been very focused on painting flowers over the past year or so. I seem to have developed a bit of a routine with them… Usually I bring flowers to the studio from work, or I get them from Kurrajong and then choose a vase and start painting. I only paint them from life, and if the flowers die before I finish the painting then tough luck! I’ll just paint a new lot over the top in that case. Some interesting shifts of colour can occur by letting some of the underpainting come through. I try not to be too literal. I like keeping the paintings quick and fresh and so in a way the flowers give me a natural time limit to complete the work.

Tell us a little about your studio…

It’s in Alexandria in Sydney. It’s in a big old sawtooth warehouse with lots of natural light. It’s an industrial area with big wide flat streets and warehouses everywhere. Lots of paper bark trees too. It’s my best ever studio. My 2 studios before this were both in the attics of pubs in Western Sydney! They were great but having a studio in the city with other artists around is fantastic. The other artists in the building are a constant inspiration. It’s great to see what other people are doing and to see everybody energising the space with their art practice.

You have some new paintings on show as part of the public art project ‘The Conductors Project‘ in Sydney – what can viewers expect to see in this show?

Some of my flower paintings will be exhibited on the platform at St James and Museum stations, housed in disused glass cabinets. They are two beautiful stations that were built in the 1920′s, and have old green tiles everywhere. I love the idea that the cabinets are being used for artworks. It intercepts people’s daily commute in an unexpected way.

What else are are you looking forward to this year?

I have a solo exhibition of still life paintings at Maunsell Wickes Gallery in Paddington from the 1st- 15th of March.  This show will include some of the paintings from the Conductor’s Project.

I will also be part of a group exhibition of self-portraits in July called ‘Auto-portrait‘ at Gallery Ecosse in Exeter, NSW.

The Conductors Project
Laura Jones – Montrent des Fleurs
Until 9th Feb 2013

St James Railway Station and Museum Railway Station
Sydney, NSW

To stay in the loop with all Laura’s upcoming shows, do keep your eyes on the ‘News’ section of her website.

Sydney artist Laura Jones in her studio.  Flowers by Mikarla Shailer Bauer of Rococo Flowers.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.

The studio of Sydney artist Laura Jones.  Flowers by Mikarla Shailer Bauer of Rococo Flowers.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.

The studio of Sydney artist Laura Jones.  Flowers by Mikarla Shailer Bauer of Rococo Flowers.  Photo - Carine Thevenau.