“Sometimes you think ‘am I allowed to just do this, to just paint jugs?’ You have to be brave do these massive, naïve objects.”

20th February 2024 by Imogen in Blog

We’re thrilled to welcome artist Lara Voce to the gallery. We spoke to her about lockdown, the meaning behind her still lifes, and taking a risk.

“My mum was an art teacher at a secondary school, so we had an art room and we just painted and made things – that’s what we did all the time at home. At secondary school I had an amazing art teacher who saw something in me, and let me progress early through GCSEs and A levels, using the art room at lunch time and after school. It was a really creative school.

“I did my Art A level at 15, then parked it for a bit whilst I did my normal A levels, and studied medical biology at university. But it never felt like me, I missed painting too much. So, I did art foundation at Slade, which reignited that creative journey. From there, I went into interior design and worked in that field for fifteen years.

“It was lockdown that brought me back to fine art. I was working for Aston Martin as an interior designer when I was furloughed, and I suddenly had all this time again to explore. I started painting, and I thought bugger it, I’ll give this a go. In September 2021 I quit my job and started painting seriously, then reached out to a few galleries who picked up my work. It snowballed from there, I managed to sell well and work as an artist.

“That time during lockdown gave me the chance to think what was actually important. I thought, “is this it?”.

“What I love about being an artist is that it’s physically active, you’re always on your feet, making things, building frames, there’s a science to it. I never liked being at a desk.  

“Everything I paint comes from my brain. l I don’t plan anything, or work from still lifes or photographs. Sometimes I have an idea in my head of how I think the final piece will look, but they never work out 100% and everything ends up completely different to how I imagined. I work on wooden panels – I’ve tried canvas, but wood allows me to go over and over a piece, sand it back, overpaint, and really be quite robust with the process. That takes the work in a different direction.

“I find the drive to paint is quite a compulsion. I paint every day, working around school hours for my two children. On a Monday, if I go in and paint and nothing works out, I tell myself I’m giving myself a few days off, but I’m always back there the next morning. I’m always chasing that feeling, that click, of when it just works. Sometimes I try to recreate my own work again to analyse what worked about a particular piece, but it never turns the same way twice.

“My family had a wine bar from when I was 17 to 30, and I painted a lot of wine bar scenes.  Wine bottles on tables, people around a table, eating and drinking. As I’ve worked, I’ve refined and stripped back that idea – now there is just a single item.

“I see my forms as figures, they are portraits.  Motherhood is so all encompassing, you are protecting, providing, nurturing. That’s what they represent. Sometimes you think “am I allowed to just do this, to just paint jugs?” You have to be brave do these massive, naïve objects. They are so childlike, or at least, that is what I hope they are.”

A collection of Lara’s work is online and at our Clifton gallery at 30 The Mall. Why not sign up to our mailing list to be the first to find out about private views, first looks at new paintings and exclusive subscriber discounts.

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