Laura Jones has a wonderful way to describe drawing form with paint: “It’s like dropping a blueberry onto yoghurt. The way the surface gently holds and cups the berry”.
Recently Jones has been looking at flowers and painting them, working the tradition begun with depictions of still life found in Egyptian tombs, developing through Roman murals to the still lifes imbued with religious symbolism of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, then burgeoning with secular fascination since the Dutch Golden Age and painters such as Maria van Ooosterwijk. Along with the development of oil paint, this tradition continued on through to Modernist transformation with the likes of Manet, Van Gogh and Hockney.
Sam Fullbrook was an Australian artist inspired by the colour of the flower growers’ gardens he grew up amongst in Chippendale, and he used flowers as a means to painterly lyricism. Jones’ motivations are also poetic, not concerned with the tyranny of description. Soaking up floral splendour during the course of her flower shop day-job also affords her the opportunity to seek out possible motifs which, once chosen, are taken to the studio where these brief flourishes of nature are placed in a vase on a table. As soft light from the warehouse windows bathes the colours, astute observation and imagination come into play as a series of possibilities to be explored begin to present themselves. Most of these will be discarded but others will be chased and seized as the discipline of process takes command and blooms of paint form into abstract invention.
Jones takes what is required from her forebears, such as Matisse, Bonnard and Nolde, reforging it into her own visual language. There is a succinct affinity with the nature of paint evident in the supple flux of her brushwork. In Flowering Gums the cool ultramarine vase anchors the vermillion blaze of blossom mass, all deftly held in a harmony of muted pinks and greys. These works may be figurative but their ambitions are abstract. In Slipper Orchid we can see how Jones pitches the fore-, mid- and backgrounds across the same compositional plane, the colour intensified to reflect the pleasured sensibility. The dappled colour-field shadows of the wall behind the vase of blooms in Summer Flowers echo the forms of the flowers themselves and we can see how she holds the shape of the cerulean table-top by painting in the space behind it. Her “cupping” of form is splendidly realised in the way the umbers sensually embrace the gentle fall of the petals in Poppies.
In an often jaded world these radiant elegies refresh us and we are reminded to appreciate life’s transient affirmations.
-Nicholas Harding, January 2013