This month Oxheys Mill Studios celebrates it’s third birthday. What better way to help the artist-led co-operative celebrate than see the latest exhibition in Oxheys Mill gallery space? Between the Lines features recent etchings, paintings and drawings created by two of the resident artists, Simon Plum and Lauretta Rapley. Lauretta often incorporates patterned textiles within her work, creating soft sculptures that jump out from the wall, begging to be seen. She has created huges ‘canvases’ weaved from vintage patterned cloth, sculpting peepholes and crevices and then painting or drawing her images onto them. She tells me that Oxheys was pivotal in helping her engage with the local creative community. I went to find out more…
Tell me a little bit about Between the Lines, your exhibition with Simon Plum. ‘Between the Lines’ is an exhibition curated by myself and Simon Plum at Oxheys Mill Studios in Preston. It is essentially an exhibition showcasing recent paintings, drawings and etchings by both of us. The title refers to the importance of line and drawing in both of our practices, combined with ambiguous subject matter and sometimes obscure meanings behind much of our work.
Where did you train? I’m originally from Harefield in Middlesex and completed a BA Hons in Fine Art : Painting at Wimbledon School of Art, although it was my A Level teacher, Eleni O’Hara at West Herts College in Watford, who taught me to paint and furnished me with the foundation skills on which I have built my practice.
How has your work evolved since you graduated? Since I graduated from Wimbledon, I would say that my work has evolved towards a greater significance on drawing practice and a slightly more considered approached to projects that I’m working on. I still maintain a huge element of spontaneity, but with more emphasis on experimentation and developmental progression of drawing, writing, painting, collage, sewing and weaving. My final degree show project was a series of drawings and rudimentary sketches on an almost life size soft sculpture of a playground horse. The themes and ideas behind my work have remained fairly constant and are centralised around memory, nostalgia, family, attachment and loss. For me, the pure involvement in the process of creation is vital as it provides a means of catharsis.
What brought you up to Preston? I was working for Fred Perry in central London, where I met my future husband, who is from Leyland. I was at a point in my life where I was rediscovering my passion and need to create art, and was unfulfilled by my job and living so far away from him. He encouraged me to pursue my creative journey up north with his support, which was seven years ago!
How easy was it to link in with the creative community here? At first, mainly through my own lack of confidence, I found it extremely difficult to link with the creative community, especially as I was working from home, which I found to be very isolating and the only people I knew were my husband and his family. However, I ended up in a graphic design job, based at The Watermark in Preston, which is where I first met Simon. Once I found out about a studio space at Oxheys and subsequently moved in, I’ve found it to be a great platform for local exposure with plenty of opportunities for linking into Preston’s vast creative community.
What drew you to the use of textiles in your work? The use of textiles in my work comes from a resistance to painting on a blank white rectangle as a starting point, and the anticipation of not knowing what the finished piece would end up like. Also, whilst working on my degree, I discovered lots of old fabrics in my Mum’s loft with patterns on them that evoked a strong sense of nostalgia so I began to combine these into my work using sewing.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? I draw inspiration from memory and attachment, where the emotions and feelings associated with personal experience often serve as the initial motivation. I also refer to the use of colour and pattern in Klimt’s work, as well as Schiele’s exceptional use of line and understanding of form.
What are you working on at the moment? My most recent project is ‘Solace’, which features in ‘Between the Lines’, and was a bit of a departure from ‘Unconditional’, in terms of freedom, expression and spontaneity, which I really enjoyed. I plan to work on more pieces like this in the very near future.
Have you any exhibitions planned for the future? I personally don’t have any exhibitions planned for the near future, but hope to be taking part in ‘The Big Draw’ at Oxheys in a few months time, and will be looking to exhibit some new work later on this year.
Between the Lines is showing at Oxheys Mill Studios, 28 Stanhope Street, Preston PR1 7PN until 7th May 2014. Opening times: Saturday and Sunday 11am – 3pm (Except Easter Sunday)