Living North Magazine

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Edition: 20
Autumn 2013

The Green Green Grass of Home

Ahead of her first exhibition in her home county, artist Laura Wallace tells Robert Beaumont about her work and how Yorkshire has influenced her development as a painter.
Laura Wallace
Laura Wallace Paintings
Talented Yorkshire artist Laure Wallace, who is holding her first solo exhibition at Ripley, near Harrogate in November (2013), owes a huge debt to her native county. So much so that she has left London after 18 years and returned home to paint. Laura explains: "I grew up in the stunning surroundings of the West Yorkshire moors and idyllic town of Ilkley. Until the age of 11 I attended Moorfield School at the foot of Ilkely Moor and after that I went to The Arts Educational School in Tring, Hertfordshire. It wasn't till then that I fully appreciated the beauty of Yorkshire and I remember longing for a "view". When my father drove me home after the long trek up the M1, I would insist that he approached Ilkley over the moors from The Cow and Calf Rocks and I always felt a real sense that I was home when I saw this view."

She adds, "Meanwhile my mother's garden was, and still is, a stunning array of colour and enchanting vistas, changing with the seasons from the first snowdrops to the blanket of yellow daffodils, from bluebell woods to magnificent banks of rhododendrons. There is no doubt that being surrounded by such natural beauty has influenced my artistic skills. I think if painting is in your soul, it is there from a very young age. I have a file from my parents of early pictures and cards of flowers, snow scenes, rainbows and landscapes. After a holiday in Switzerland I would draw the mountains, in Jersey it would be boats and sea and in the summer it would be wild flowers in a vase. Instead os a thank you letter, I would draw a picture. It was always the way I communicated."

Years later, whilst Laura was on holiday in Orkney and her husband Mark was off fishing, she would go to a secluded beach and paint. "I enjoy the fact that I can totally lose myself with a paintbrush in my hand and feel incredibly close to nature. I adore the challenge of capturing the moment in a painting and find the energy behind the activity of painting a huge thrill," she explains.

With husband Mark hailing from Cumbria and Laura from Yorkshire, the couple always felt a huge pull back towards the North. "I lived in London for 18 years and loved it. We had a beautiful house with an art studio in the garden. I spent ten years attending Heatherley's School of fine Art and our children were happy and settled at a brilliant school. Our friends thought we were mad when we said we were leaving, but it was the best move we ever made. Someone asked me the other day what I thought the difference was between feeling that you fit in and feeling that you belong. The answer for me was the difference between our life in London and our life in Yorkshire."

Now Laura is back in Yorkshire, she is looking forward to painting the different seasons in greater depth. "I relish the challenge of painting snow, the wild flowers of spring, the heather-clad autumn moors and roses in vintage jugs from my own Yorkshire Garden." she says.

She is especially excited about her forthcoming exhibition at Chantry House Gallery in Ripley and would love to see her original paintings and prints exhibited more widely throughout Yorkshire. Emma Hargreaves, the owner of Chantry House Gallery, says "We are delighted to host Laura's first Yorkshire exhibition. She is an exceptionally talented artist and her work fits in perfectly with our aim of promoting Yorkshire artists who paint Yorkshire subjects."

Laura will be exhibiting at Chantry House in Ripley from 1st November until 10th November.
Laura Wallace Paintings