The Orcadian

The Orcadian
Printed: Thursday, 6th November, 2008

A London Painter's passion for Orkney

By Cheryl Campbell
Laura Wallace Paintings
One of Laura Wallace's Orkney oil paintings, of Aikerness, which is in her current exhibition in London.
Anyone viewing the work of London-based artist Laura Wallace will see that Orkney features heavily in her portfolio. Speaking to The Orcadian this week, Laura explained why she returns to the county every year to paint.

Thirty-six-year-old Laura first visited Orkney with her husband, Mark Wallace, who is originally from Dounby. She began painting the scenery, and is now exhibiting her Orkney paintings in the UK's capital.
Laura, who grew up in Yorkshire, outlined how her love affair with Orkney began: "After spending years of summer holidays lounging in the sun, working on my tan, my boyfriend (now husband) took me to his family holiday home near Dounby. He subsubsequently spent the days fishing! As I had little chance of developing a tan in Orkney, I decided to take up my childhood passion of painting. And that's where it started really."

It seems the county has been quite an inspiration for Laura, who has now visited around 30 times.
She explained why painting here is best: "The combination of the never-ending sky, green fields, jagged cliffs and ever changing weather make it truly remarkable for an artist. The quality of light is wonderful. You can experience the four seasons in one day. Because the light and weather can change so rapidly, you have to work fast and this makes it exciting for an artist and gives the paintings a sense of urgency."

Laura describes herself as a colourist: "I like to explore the countless possibilities you can achieve with oil paint, from a thin glazed wash to thickly applied, straight from the tube, pure colour."

Although she has been painting from a young age, Laura has only officially called herself and artist for the last eight years. She said that her skills have been perfected through studying art and by teaching herself. "I have been to art school so I understand the various techniques and the basis of oil painting. People can tell you what to do, but in the end you take all your various learning and develop your own style."

Laura comes to Orkney every year for two weeks in August, however, this year, she and her family will be here for Christmas.  
Laura Wallace
She explained why they return to the islands. "It's because of the family connection. Now my children see it as the most magical place in the world."

Laura has exhibited before as part of a group and her current exhibition is her second solo show. It is entitled, Laura Wallace, New Paintings, and is being held at Gallery 53 in Knightsbridge. She described is as "a culmination of my last four years work - a mixture of still life and Orkney Sea-scapes."

As well as displaying her work, Laura also sells it, with one painting being sold for £3,000. When asked if she would ever run out of scenes to paint in Orkney, Laura was clear "Never. Even though we often visit the same places each year, it's always so exciting to see what the elements have done to it. I'm always blown away by the vast Orkney sky."

Although she hasn't exhibited in the county before, Laura would love to. "I think Orkney just gets you - and for people who have visited Orkney, I would hope that they could see that in my paintings."

Laura, who describes herself as "enthusiastic, optimistic, positive, busy, but above all, very lucky," explained what her work ambition is. "It's hard to explain - it's so personal and I paint things because I'm moved by them. In each painting there is a bit of me and I want people to look at my paintings and feel involved - to feel how I felt when I first looked at the subject."