I first learned about Laura Ellen Bacon, a British sculptor, through the New Art Centre in Salisbury, while researching UK sculpture parks. In February 2012, Laura was commissioned to create a piece for their exhibition called ‘the nature of things’ . Her work is of an ephemeral nature, though built to last as long as possible, this particular piece ‘Split Forms’ has been resting on the gallery building since 2012:
Laura is due to have a solo show in October of this year at the National Centre for Craft and Design, in Sleaford. (Details to be confirmed closer to the date). Since exhibiting at the New Art Centre, she has also been been part of exhibitions at Sotheby’s, the Saatchi Gallery, and Ruthin Craft Centre – to name a few.
Laura weaves with natural materials, primarily with willow, to create large-scale artworks in landscape, urban and interior settings. What drew me to how work was the juxtaposition of materials; particularly between man-made classical or modern architecture and the huge hollow forms which appear to have a life of there own. They seem to represent nature fighting back for its displaced territory – yet ironically, they are hand crafted too. Because of the natural materials used, the sculptures are fitting for scenic grounds, like the ones at Roche Court. Her sculptures do become a part of the environment, and indeed are a very intriguing addition. Testament to this, Laura majorly creates her large pieces on site, and when they are exhibited outside, birds and insects occupy them as their home.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the artist, to discuss her intentions behind the craft, her methods, and her sources of inspiration.
Rachel: What instigated your career as a sculpture artist? How did you learn the craft?
Laura: My process is self-taught and my ambitions and focus for my work developed as I worked. Much of my creativity was sparked as a child when I was free to create structures and places of my own in the sticks and bushes of my parent’s fruit farm – my mum grew raspberries and I used to make dens in the piles of cut canes. My grandad was a joiner also and I was allowed to build my own treehouse from his scrap timber – it was a precise joy that I will never forget.
“I’m quite quiet in my work in some ways…”
Do you see your outdoor sculpture work as an extension of the architecture, or as part of the natural environment?
I see my work as inhabiting a place, a structure or sometimes a building. I don’t think I ever see the work as an extension of the architecture as such although I hope that it communicates something about the architecture even if it is in great contrast to it… Overall, my work may appear to have a life-force of its own. My work is occasionally seen as semi-architectural but I think that is simply because it is sometimes large enough to get inside and uses very rudimentary processes of tangling and constructing materials to achieve a ‘built’ form, so maybe it has a sort of primitive approach in its tendency to enclose.
Would you like to have more work exhibited in cities like London, or do you prefer to work in regional locations?
I’m quite quiet in my work in some ways. Yes, I’m always drawn to fabulous locations and love to be a part of wider events (such as Milan Design Week where I was this time last year during a collaboration with Sebastian Cox) but ultimately the allure of creating work in any site is always down to quite a subtle mix of personal feelings about a place and how I feel I can respond to it. In short, yes, I always aspire to work in city locations but equally in very rural, very peaceful places.
“My work has a link with bird’s nests and the way that nests are built into existing structures”
Can you envisage your work being incorporated with brutalist buildings? Or is your craft better suited for more traditional and classical architecture?
I am intrigued and inspired by all architecture, Brutalism, Arts and Crafts, Classical to name a few… There isn’t one type of architectural movement or style that makes an ideal connection for me – it is usually the atmosphere of a place that drives me first. Secondly, my work has to find a ‘grip’ on a site, I literally build onto the structure / building, so the work needs to find a way to fix itself into place (which is why my work has a link with nests and the way that nests are built into existing structures).
Do you think these are interactive installations?
Some of my work is interactive, people can sometimes walk inside, or walk through a piece of work. Also, with internal installations, the natural materials in their vast quantities carry delicate aromas.
What audience are you trying to attract?
A curious one.
And on that wonderful note, I’d like to thank Laura Ellen Bacon for taking the time to speak with a curious admirer of her work.