It’s always a pleasure to see Manchester artists strive, and to see them exhibiting their work in local galleries and venues, it makes me smile. So too will the new work at her first ever solo exhibition by Laura Pedley, hosted by Comme Ca Art at The Lowry Hotel.
Laura Pedley is a Manchester based artist, you may have seen her work with us at the Art All Dayer, or at our In Manchester exhibitions. She is an abstract landscape painter whose work aims to create a sense of peace and calm. Laura explains how she is strongly affected by the environment around her, and surrounds herself in calming tones (from her clothes, her paintings and her decorating). We chatted to Laura in the lead up to her first solo exhibition launching 22nd September.
It’s been a busy Summer for Laura, the chance to have her first solo show has meant her usual Summer holidays off with her kids has been taken over by work and paintings. We chatted on Zoom and Laura shown me her living room, which in itself looks like an extension of her artwork, not only are all the walls a gorgeous deep blue colour, but every free space is full of new paintings.
“Grandparents have been a big help!’ Laura says as she explains how she has been finding the time to prepare for the exhibition. Her first solo show launches on Thursday 22nd September with a private view, and then is open to the public until 14th November.
I asked Laura what people can expect from the exhibition.
‘I have been creating a series called ‘Horizons’ which focuses on being outdoors and appreciating that sense of calmness and peace you have when being out in the open.’
Laura spent some time in the Lake District and Peak District after lockdown, making her once again appreciate that sense of freedom after what seemed like forever in lockdowns.
‘I want my work to show that sense of relief you get when you are in a beautiful landscape, breathing in the fresh air and being calm in your surroundings. These pieces are simplified versions of landscape scenes but all have a link using the horizon line as an anchor.’
She really has stretched herself in preparing for this show and learning new things as she goes.
‘I am a self-taught artist. This is the first time I’ve painted on canvas, I have always painted on wooden panels up till this point. I’ve also painted bigger than I’ve ever painted before! Plus, I only started using acrylic paints after lockdown and I love it! I still Google ‘how to paint with…’ and get tips from watching YouTube videos. Each painting is a new lesson, when it is complete I feel like I have learnt something new.’
The exhibition launch also coincides with new artwork going up on Laura’s website. Here you can browse a catalogue of pieces, all for sale. If you sign up to her mailing list, you’ll be the first to see these before they are live to view on the site.
Looking at some of Laura’s new work, ‘A Beautiful Name’ stands out to me. This is more of a ‘recognisable’ landscape, you can see the hills rolling off into the distance, and the reflection of these on the water. Even though the painting uses deep blues and pale pinks, not quite ‘real’ colours, you still get the sense of the landscape and it very much looks like, and reminds me of the Lake District. This was the first piece Laura painted in this ‘Horizons’ series, she said it this was the point where she felt like everything was going to be OK again, after the events of Covid 19.
I asked Laura about the process of her paintings.
‘I take photos when I am out and about. I also write lots of notes. I usually write a few sentences, and come up with a title of an artwork first and work on that title, I think about what those words mean to me. When I paint, I paint lots of thin layers and glazes, let them dry and work over it.’
Laura originally got into painting after suffering from post-natal depression after her first child was born. She used painting as an outlet, a place of sanctuary, a way to find calm, find peace. Her aim within all her pieces is to create a peaceful atmosphere, for the viewer to take a breath and find that inner peace themselves.
I definitely get this sense from ‘Truth’. The obvious difference in this piece is that the horizon line has been turned vertically. For me, it gives me that sense of a drop, of a fall, of a weight being let go. I can feel a sense of a person coming out of the darkness into the light. The contrast of the very deep blue, almost (if not) black, then the clear, brighter, whiter tones, it gives that sense of a weight being lifted off your shoulders.
This is just a taster of what to expect from Laura’s solo exhibition, with 21 pieces being shortlisted for the exhibition, there will be lots of amazing pieces to see and enjoy. We spend so much of our lives working, worrying and stressing, but Laura’s work brings you to a stop, a time to reflect, a bit of a calm break from the chaos of life. It’s a privilege to have seen her work ‘in real’ and I would recommend you do the same.