Shadow & Soul | Laura Jones

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Shadow and Soul is the latest collection of works by Sydney-based artist Laura Jones. Laura works from her studio in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where she paints still life portraits of flowers, foraged from her daily surroundings. Drawing from her previous experience as a florist, she creates floral vignettes in her studio, intent on capturing their fleeting beauty.

Laura has a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Sydney and a Master of Arts from COFA. 

The hydrangeas in our garden bear flowers of an unmarketable hue. The base colour is grubby, faded apple ­green, like the upholstery on a collection ­day couch. On top is a rash of rosacea pink. These are the colours not of romance, but of neglect and root damage caused by a neighbouring conifer. Yet every summer the starved shrubs divert massive resources to their mop­heads. The flowers are layered like scales and the upper petals (they are actually sepals but let's call them petals for now) shelter their understudies from the sun. And beneath each sunburnt, topmost petal is its own shadow, stencilled for perpetuity on the petal below, in a colour as pale and fresh and unblemished as a cabbage leaf. It’s magic.

I love these hydrangeas because they remind me of the enormous generosity represented in the act of blossoming. A flowering plant gives everything it has, even when it hasn’t enough. ‘This is my best’, says the plant in full bloom. And it is the generosity that is beautiful, as much as the material result.

This is what I see, and love, in Laura’s work: every painting is a blossom of her soul, and like my hydrangeas, every painting has her best. Her generosity shines brightly, even when the paint is dark and she is feeling dark inside, as she was, she told me, when some of these were painted. Bits of underpainting are visible in the final works, like cardigans half-­buttoned and hair untied. Vulnerable, sensuous, earnest and disarming, Laura’s paintings have everything to give and nothing to prove. They are not shown so much as entrusted, and they make me feel worthy.

Flowering is an act of biological compulsion performed with the grace and humility of love. This is what I imagine painting must be like for Laura Jones.

- Lucy Kaldor, June 2014

 
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