CORNWALL ARTISTS: CERAMICIST LAURA LANE
Laura Lane, the Cornish designer-maker with narrative at the heart of her craft reveals all about her work
Meet Laura Lane, the Cornish designer-maker with narrative at the heart of her craft.
Words and photos by Rachael D’Cruze Sharpe
Having met Laura Lane at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey earlier in the summer – her distinctive granite look ceramics caught my eye straight away – I’m looking forward to meeting Laura at her studio and finding out where her creativity comes from. Scawn Studios doesn’t disappoint – Laura’s got herself a pretty idyllic setup: working from a light-filled studio just metres away from her home on the rural small holding where she lives with husband Steve, and children Daisy (10), Felix (8) and Monty (6).
Through the French windows in the studio I can see her children playing and the family goats moseying around in the sunshine. It’s not a showy affair however; everything is modest, homely and largely functional. It’s a very calming place to find yourself for the afternoon and I’m immediately made to feel welcome.
Laura won the Tony Piper Memorial Award for Craft Excellence at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey this year and her work is currently stocked at several galleries through the country including White Doll Arts in Fowey, Avalon in Marazion and Jane Adams Gallery in St Just. It’s hard to believe she’s still only in her first proper year of business. I’ve always been a maker, even as a child I was always cooking, sewing and doing,’ she says.
When asked how she got started in ceramics Laura says: After I had my children I didn’t feel fulfilled. I know that sounds really awful, but I just felt like I had something more to give.’
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Something many women can relate to, if afraid to admit. This led Laura to do an Access to Art course in Plymouth, which led her to a 3D design degree at Plymouth University. I just really enjoyed ceramics,’ she says modestly.
Laura started to work in her own studio and built up her equipment during the second year of her degree. I wanted the transition from university to working to be fluid,’ says Laura who went on to do an MA in Design, specialising as a maker. The MA gave me the extra push to find what I needed to do. Beforehand I was looking at big issues I’m passionate about, like climate change, but it wasn’t really obtainable. I was encouraged to look at my own organic lifestyle for inspiration instead.’
There’s certainly lots to look at too – as well as her ceramic business, together with Steve, Laura looks after her children, their land and grows food.
Spurred on by her MA, Laura decided to concentrate her work around her lifestyle and Cornish folklore. I put a pin in the map and drew a circle around a 15 mile radius and decided to find real places, people and stories to tell from my local area.’
Testament to the success of this way of working, each design of Laura’s reflects a story. For example a family trip to Giant’s Hedge, near Lanreath, between Lerryn and Looe, has resulted in a striking pattern illustration. Her hare pieces tell the story of the white hare from Looe and the rain clouds are a reference to the Liskeard mast. And there’s narrative within all of her pieces.
Laura’s work all takes on her signature granite/slate look, beautiful and also a nice nod to Cornwall’s heritage. She uses a technique called Sgraffito to decorate her work, which looks similar to the effect you get with lino printing. She tells us this reminded her of enjoying lino printing at university, so she now makes prints alongside her ceramics. Lino gives me a bit of a colour fix and is an outlet for things I can’t do on clay.’Laura runs weekly workshops on a Thursday mornings and runs community workshops as an extra part of her practice. She tells us she has recently been working with a residential home: I get something back from community projects like this as people tell me their stories which often go on to become designs.’
Folklore is about finding the magic in the everyday and it’s this type of narrative that excites and inspires Laura in her craft. Her passion is apparent through talking to her and looking at her work, which although splendid doesn’t like to take itself too seriously. There’s a healthy dollop of fun mixed into Laura Lane Ceramics.
When it comes to the clay Laura uses, it’s as local as the stories she’s telling, coming from Doble Newdowns Sand and Clay Pits in St Agnes. So there you have it, Laura Lane the maker of decorative homewares, designed and made in Cornwall from local materials with local narratives. Cornish folklore needs outlets to live on through and Laura’s work provides the perfect vessel.
Find out more about Laura and shop her collection at lauralane.co.uk
This article first appeared in Cornwall Life October 2015