Somerset Life talks to Wells-based Laura Lian about what inspires her to create her distinctive and highly sought-after sculptures and paintings
I’ve been living in Wells for six years now and really love the city and the countryside. When I first moved here, I was making a sculpture of a man and woman on a hoop with two rings in the middle. It wasn’t until I visited the Chalice Well at the foot of Glastonbury Tor that I understood what I had made. I noticed on the top of the holy well in the garden that there were two rings interconnecting. It was the sacred symbol of the Vesica Pisces, after which I named my sculpture. The whole area is full of sacred sites and has an amazing soft but vibrant energy. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.As a child I was always drawing and looking at pictures, shapes and colours. I somehow knew it was my destiny to be an artist, though it took some time in my adult years to settle down and take my work seriously and become professional, and I chose sculpture as my main expression of creativity and oil painting as my second medium.
Rodin was my main inspiration and, of course, Michelangelo. I studied ceramics at Chelsea College of Art in the ’70s, but making pottery wasn’t really my thing and it was after I left college that I taught myself figurative sculpture.I also worked in special needs in London, teaching and aiding the mentally ill through clay modelling, which was very rewarding. However, I eventually gave up this work and pursued a career as a full-time professional artist/sculptor. Alongside commissions for architects and interior designers I took on restoration work, sculpting ceiling roses and all types of corbels, caps, cornices and so on for many grand houses, which helped me sharpen my sculpting skills and took me to some interesting places such as Kelmarsh Hall in Northampton and Uppark in West Sussex.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing. In the ’90s the high points were winning two competitions – one was for a large steel relief sculpture for the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, and the other was a gate and railings for Sustran’s cyling and walking trails in Wiltshire.In 2000 I concentrated on my own work, and would say my Buddha sculptures are my signature pieces, some of which I have sold to famous people, such as Bernie Ecclestone and Rachel Hunter.It has been wonderful to help charities through my work, and one sculpture sold at Cancer Research’s ‘Art for Life’ auction at Christie’s in London for �10,000, with all the money going to the charity. Nordoff Robbins, a great charity helping people through music therapy, commissioned me to make a portrait sculpture of the band U2, and this sold at auction for �22,000. At another of their events, my John Lennon portrait bronze sold to Sharon Osbourne for �9,600. I have a great passion for animals, especially endangered species, and made my ‘Ghost Tiger’ sculpture to help its plight. The image was taken from the Siberian tiger. Sales of my tiger bronze also help another great charity, Born Free, which is committed to helping the animals and the bronze features on their website.In 2011, I have a couple of public commissions as well as private ones to keep me busy! One is for Eon Energy in Kent, doing their logo in 3D bronze, from Aldo Carbonari’s 2D picture of their ‘Phoenix Rising’. I also am working on a memorial plaque in bronze commemorating lifeboat men from the 1930s, and this will be placed in the forecourt of Seeley Hall on the Isle of Wight. I also have more children’s portrait sculptures to do and a large bronze of a young girl playing netball for a school in Malvern.Although at times it’s quite a solitary profession, I have met many wonderful people during my career and the feedback from people that have bought my work inspires me to keep creating. For more information visit lauralian.co.uk