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Lauren Starr

Lauren Starr is at no.7 in the CFF Art Window Trail/ Castlemaine Floristry


Photo of Lauren Starr on right with Castlemaine Floristry shop owner Lynne Jolly, left. By David Littlewood.

Central Victorian artist Lauren Starr felt right at home the moment she entered Lynne Jolly’s Castlemaine Floristry to look over the space in which she’s exhibiting her Fringe Festival piece ‘Ode to my garden’.

“I walked into the shop and it immediately resonated with me,” she explains.

“I was so moved by Lynne’s space – I often use flowers in my pieces. I’m a houseplant lady myself and a gardener; I’ve turned the nature strip outside my place into a veggie patch and nature, including flowers, flows through my work. Lynne’s, shop is like a rustic earthy jungle, so I thought I’d make a cool jungle picture in response to that.”

Lauren describes the ways in which the COVID lockdown has influenced her work.

“As I’m sure was the case with so many people, I had more time than usual to read books, walk in the bush, make art, look at things online; the experience can’t but drive an examination of nature, isolation and self-growth,” she says.

“In terms of production, one of the pieces I’m exhibiting here is a photograph around which I’ve layered other images. I then digitally painted that and also placed the image of wallpaper in the background – there’s around 30 photographs stitched together in this piece.

“The piece depicts a saucy character in her backyard, taking stock of her happy place. I have a photo library of plants, curtains, leaves, butterflies and bees, ninety-nine per cent of which I’ve taken – I cut them out and match them.

“Part of the skill is creating an image like this, a montage, is doing so in a way in which the viewer can suspend their disbelief and think ‘this might be a real picture’. It looks like a painting, it’s surreal but real, it blurs that line. We are going into her world.”

The story of Lauren’s journey to becoming an artist is a fascinating one. Taking a sabbatical from her teaching career eight years ago, she set off for New York.

“I came back after a month and immediately started making plans to move back over there, those plans were radically altered when I became pregnant. I thought ‘okay, new plan needed. I’ll take maternity leave and take a photography course’,” she explains.

“I had my baby, and with my new photography skills, began building a business that I ultimately had for six years. I think that for everyone, serendipity plays a big part in our lives.

“I soon established a reputation for taking quirky family portraits. It took lots of time and lots of energy. It was an approach that worked well over the years, to the point where I thought I was meant to be doing portraits.

“Things started to change in January last year, 2020, when I produced a series of well-received images of animals affected by the bushfires. Something was clearly evolving; I could feel it. I began to take on fewer portrait clients.

Lauren speaks movingly about the moment, still just over a year ago, when she took

the leap to begin describing herself as an artist.

“I’d been wondering, how will I know when I’m an artist? I’m emerging, I’ve built my skills, but when am I’m going to be an artist? I had to relax and to surrender,” she reflects now.

“I’d discovered fine art photography and increasingly felt at home in it; I was creating what you might refer to as creepy, beautiful, macabre images, images that held and depicted themes that spoke to me.

“I finally made that internal statement: I am an artist now.

“It’s a huge moment, you of course have that ‘arts is not a career, what right do I have to be an artist?’ dialogue going on in your head, but you have to compete with those demons and step out onto the arena and say, if needed 100 times over: ‘I’m an artist’.”

Lauren’s internal commitment and self-belief is clearly working.

“Once you’ve decided to step through that door different things rise up to meet you, but you’ve got to put yourself out there. I firmly believe and have experienced that once you announce something, once you set your intention, then things will rally round to support you. That’s been my experience over the course of the last year,” she explains.

As to her Fringe contribution? How does she hope viewers will experience her piece?

“How might people feel? I hope there’s something of a response to the spiritual and feminine in nature; I hope that theme resonates. I also have to say that the piece is meant to be fun too, everyone’s a nude gardener at heart!” she says with a laugh.

Asked to reflect on the Fringe Festival’s ‘Reactivate’ theme, Lauren’s answer could not be more resolute.

“As an emerging artist I’m keen to be involved in strong vibrant arts communities; I want to meet other artists, take part in the Fringe and support the arts and my fellow artists,” she says, emphatically.

“I feel like I’m in a group and we’re banging a drum together, we’re signalling that we’ll come back bigger and better, inspired. It could be an amazing time ahead for the arts.”


To read about/see more of Laurens work visit http://www.laurenstarr.com.au

(Big thanks to David Littlewood for interview & article)