We were welcomed to peek into the creative haven of fine artist Lara Scouller for our second ‘Inside the Studio’ feature on Creative Dundee. Lara has recently won The Pastel Society UK Young Artist Award, just one of a number of awards collected since graduating in Fine Art from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 2006. We loved getting to spend a little bit of time in Lara’s calm, sunny studio space whilst we asked a few questions about her work, her studio and her life in Dundee.
Originally from a small town in East Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland, Lara moved east to Dundee in 2002 to study. Following her studies, Lara decided to stay and set up a studio, so she moved into Wasps Meadow Mill Studios in 2009; a dynamic space that houses 58 studios and approximately 100 artists.
What factors played a role in you becoming an artist?
I grew up in a creative environment. I was always really encouraged to be creative as a child – so instead of watching TV – I was given a bit of paper, some crayons and would start drawing. I never made a conscious decision to become an artist – it just happened naturally. Although, when I was younger and people would ask me what I wanted to be – I would always say a painter! So I am not quite a painter – but I guess I have become more of a draughtsman of sorts. All of my family is artistic – my sister is a painter, my dad is a painter and my mum is a graphic designer. They are all very talented – so I guess that has influenced me.
In relation to your creative practice, what have been the recent highlights?
I recently took part in The Pastel Society UK 2013 Annual Exhibition. I was very lucky to win The Pastel Society Young Artist Award – so I’m still young at 29! As a result I had three pieces in this exhibition which was held in the Mall Galleries in London. The Pastel Society is very old (founded in 1898), it is quite a prestigious art club and it is important to me to be a part of that. I also exhibited at the Drawing Show at Compass Gallery in Glasgow this year. It was a mixed exhibition and the curator is very keen to promote drawing, so she is also taking my work to the London Art Fair in January 2014.
What advice would you give to other young artists?
Just don’t give up. Just keep doing it. Keep your name out there. Keep exhibiting. As it just spurs you on to produce new work and challenges you to find new and exciting subject matter.
Has living in Dundee influenced your work?
Yes, I think it has sometimes guided and helped depict the subject matter that I choose. A number of the items seen in my work are based in Dundee – so I do try to tap into local spaces and people. For example, I recently took part in an exhibition based on allotments – so I was able to talk to the allotment committee on City Road and they gave me a key for access whilst working on this project.
I am back onto animals at the moment. So Dundee is great because it has the D’arcy Thompson Zoology Museum and the Mcmanus Collections Unit on Barrack street. Both of these venues are very approachable and let me access their collections for drawing and research. I usually go for the more exotic animals in the collections. Sometimes when I discover them in museums – it is the first time I have ever heard of or seen these animals. But I’ll start drawing it… so I learn a new fact about them. So the drawing process, is also a learning process to learn about these unusual animals. But I also enjoy drawing more common native species to Scotland and have recently been working more from live animals – which is always more of a challenge.
How much time do you spend in your studio?
A lot of my work is based on location, so I use my studio more to spend time thinking about what I am going to do, researching other artists and exploring the topic that I am currently studying. I always try to finish a piece of drawing work where I start it. However, I feel my drawing work is quite sculptural and recently I have been drawn to want explore sculpture and printmaking more – so this may be something I would explore more in the studio. I am also planning to set up some pastel classes in my studio soon – so will be welcoming people in to come and join me in this lovely space. I will have some models – maybe nudes, maybe not. But hopefully it will be a nice environment for people interested in exploring drawing and pastels. I also plan to hold some of the classes at the D’arcy Thompson Zoology Museum.
Can you pick out a few favourite features in your studio?
My plan chests have become a recent favourite – they are fantastic. One came from the Tayside Recycling Centre and one was donated to me from another artist here at Wasps. I added some grey patches to my walls – these are just simple, but nice addition to the space – as a fully white studio can feel quite blank and the colour helps to fill the space a little. The light is also quite special here – the windows are large, and I seem to be on the sunny side as I get great light for most of the day. Lastly, my collection of pastels is important to me – as I have had a number of them from before I started art school.
Can you suggest two other people in Dundee I should interview?
Lara allowed us to step momentarily into her world by allowing us access to her studio space and it has given us a great insight into her life as an artist in Dundee. It was brilliant to see all of the details in her studio and a few of our additional favourite features include: the textured floor layered with pastel extracts from art in progress over the years, the hidden mezzanine that gave us a new perspective from which to view the space, the number of dried out natural flowers that populated her windows and her collection of art – that we were able to take a look through.
Although most of the time Lara’s studio is a private space, it is interesting to hear that at some point she plans to transform it into a more social space to facilitate a number of classes. You can find out more about Lara and her work at www.larascouller.com
Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson 2013