Laura Symes was born and brought up on the Hebridean island of Lewis. After graduating in Ireland, she spent several years travelling before concentrating on work in education in the UK. Occasionally she participated in open exhibitions and undertook portrait and scenic commissions mostly executed in oil on canvas. In the last twelve years an interest in mosaic has led her back into working in different media and she now lives in London and works as a full time artist.
After an early foundation year at Glasgow School of Art, I continued my artistic education in an unconvential self directed way. I had the opportunity to learn mosaics with several professional practitioners. I broadened that experience by volunteering and collaborating with others on several projects and by joining the British Association for Modern Mosaics and participating in their annual events. As my interests dictated, I studied printing, life drawing and sculpture at Camberwell College and Mary Ward. In recent years I have regularly taken part in Dulwich Open House and Brixton’s Urban Art exhibitions to show my work.
I enjoy working in different media. I like being able to go from the flat, precise surface of screen print to a large charcoal drawing or a spontaneous gestural abstract painting. I love the unexpected element that is involved in kiln fired work in clay and glass. Colour is a major preoccupation of mine, as is composition and form. I strive for interesting juxtapositions of materials and textures.
I collect ideas from a variety of sources, such as music, emotions or poetry. My themes are identity, people in situations, contemporary events. Portraits in any medium are a challenge. This is particularly true in mosaic as one has to try to capture the essence of a subject using a limited range of tiles. After the lengthy concentration involved in completing one of these I often create something much more loose and playful.
I visit Scotland several times a year and my island roots are reflected in my interest in depicting the sea and boats and all things maritime. However, London is a vibrant and multicultural place where one can see the old masters, new exhibitions, contemporary art and many inspirational museums like the V&A. I am conscious of the history of the city and see this as a period of great physical change and political and economic uncertainty. My current creative output reflects some of this.