Laura Williams’ paintings may appear at first glance to be kitsch and decorative, but on closer contemplation they reveal an intricate web of signs and symbols, textures and colour. It is not uncommon to see reproductions or take-off of Williams’ favourite artists, or those she is thinking of at the time, taking pride of place in one of her wallpapered scenes. As the saying goes, the more you look, the more you’ll see, and there is plenty to see.
On her method of working, Williams’ states: “I started to paint in earnest five years ago and apart from some community art classes, many years ago, I am self-taught. That I have had three exhibitions over the last three years has been surreal. My works were seen on Facebook by Nick Kreisler of Kreisler Gallery in Melbourne and subsequently I had my first exhibition at his gallery in September 2013. This year I had exhibitions at Black Asterisk in Ponsonby in June and the Lesley Kreisler Gallery in New Plymouth in September.” Her work was also recently exhibited at Auckland’s Outsider Art Fair, November 2014.
“My paintings are nearly all still life or of domestic interiors, you could say they are interior monologues. I often jest that they are my version of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World as I generally paint what is within my immediate view: ceramics, wallpaper, fabric, pictures, books and figurines. Lately I have started to include images from my favourite painters and illustrators in my idealized habitats. All my heroes are equal in my pictures: Alcorn resides next to Illingworth, classical Greek art rubs shoulders with recruitment posters and modern masters are consigned to banal suburban settings. The result, I think, is a representation of my cultural capital from childhood to adult.”
There is a long tradition of painting interior spaces as a reflection of a psychological state or as a contemplation of the voyeur. Her works are especially in tune with Matisse’s The Red Studio, 1911, “in the oasis of the artist’s studio, time were suspended”. With such a wealth of historical coverage, Williams’ works manage to hold their own as intimate dialogues that we can enter into.
These bright, colourful paintings are well worth spending some time with.