Interview with Lauren Worsley

You have a large body of work in a variety of styles (abstract, figurative, realist) and media (paint, canvas, wood, perspex). For how long have you been an artist, and what is it that makes you so prolific?

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember!!! (i.e. since your first memories start, at about three years old) but I have been a practising artist since April 2008 once I decided to chuck in my corporate recruitment job and follow my dream. I’m prolific because I’m addicted to the process of making art, I need to do it every day to keep sane. A day without creating of some kind feels like a bit of a nothing day to me – lots of people might disagree, but that’s just how I’m wired. I need to paint.
You are self-taught. Tell us about your path thus far as a visual artist. Have you remained self-taught? Or might you someday take part in an art degree program of some sort?

I have no real visual art formal qualification, although I did a few interior design courses many years ago, and more recently, some life drawing classes. Before I had children, I would read art books and painting technique books quite prolifically and attend as many exhibitions by different types of artists as I could.



Which artists inspire and/or inform your work?

New Zealand artist Sophia Minson.
Some of the old master painters of portraits and flesh tones, i.e. Rembrandt.
New Zealand abstract artist Joy Surathep.
Your painting “Amy” is a wonderful tribute to your pole dancing instructor. Issue 10 features some other huge fans of the pole! Did Amy pose for you? Or did you work from a photo? We’d love to hear about Amy, and about your process and the results.

Thank you, it’s one of my favourite works, it pretty much painted itself I was so inspired. Don’t you love it when that happens! She is an incredibly talented dancer, who inspired me even more after the birth of my first child because she has had three children and still managed to achieve the heights of prowess in her field that she has. Just look at that amazing physique! Please search “Amy Richardson Impey” on YouTube and prepared to be blown away, here’s one for starters, just to show how the art of pole dancing is so completely far removed from your typical slutty stripper stereotype, how graceful, acrobatic and difficult it really is to be any good at it. In person she is the humblest, nicest, most unassuming person you could wish to meet, but on the pole she is an absolute goddess – so expressive, so beautiful. I painted from a photo (there’s no way anyone could hold that pose for more than 10 seconds!!!) I used the technique of grisaille and painted her first in detailed black and white, then slowly started washing about 8-10 layers of lightly tinted oily glaze over it, letting each layer dry before applying the next. With each glaze she came to life more and more and leapt out of the canvas at me! I was a real beginner at pole dancing when I created that work, and was so blown away by the beauty and athleticism of it all, that every time my son went down for a nap, I was in that studio painting away and ignoring laundry, dishes, housework, etc. My husband was relieved when I had finally finished! I showed Amy the work and decided to give it to her, she gave me a year’s worth of free lessons and it now sits on her studio wall (you can see it in the background of some of her YouTube clips).

Jan-88-The-Old-Age-of-an-Eagle-is-Better-than-the-Youth-of-a-Sparrow copy

“The Old Age of an Eagle is Better Than the Youth of a Sparrow” (2008)

How has your art been received? Which of your works have received the greatest critical acclaim?

“The Old Age of an Eagle is Better Than the Youth of a Sparrow” won People’s Choice for the Walker & Hall Waiheke Art Awards 2008. My first child was born in 2009 so I haven’t entered any other major competitions since then. Once my children are at school I plan to get out there a bit more. As I paint a mix of highly detailed figurative realistic work and abstract, everybody has something different to say!
If you could go anywhere on earth for six months to a year just to create art, where would you go, and what would you work on?

It really doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I have a warm, well-lit, ventilated space to paint with a good sound system. It’s not so much a location change that I need – I just need more time to paint. So how about a full time nanny as opposed to a six-month exotic holiday?! I would work exactly as I currently do – some days I paint detailed figures, other days it’s squares and circles. Depends which side of the bed I get out of that day.

Lauren Worsley

Lauren Worsley is a South African Auckland-based self-taught artist who started her art career in 2008. Born in 1977, Lauren spent much of her childhood outdoors camping, fishing, and playing sport; she moved to New Zealand in 2003 after marrying a gorgeous Kiwi man she found in London. Her bold oil paintings are inspired by a constant quest to capture a sense of energy and life force in her surroundings and to transport the viewer to a different place/time. She favours the luminosity, challenge and depth of oil paint and currently most of her work involves capturing the drama, gesture, life essence and rhythm of the human form by using contrasts and rich colour. Fascinated with creating mood and presence, her work attempts to discover and portray these by experimenting with layering, colour, contrast and texture.

Lauren Worsley's website »