This collection of paintings by artist Laura Jones, assembled at Gallery Ecosse in the early part of 2014, derives it’s title Light is Fugitive from a quote by celebrated Australian artist Margaret Preston. Light can indeed prove an elusive quality for painters to capture, and the history of the discipline is littered with the efforts of those of us who have made this our concern. The act of making a painted record of floral arrangements is of course an attempt to arrest the fleeting nature of their short life span, and an acknowledgement of the ability that oil paint possesses to make manifest and permanent that which is fleeting and transitory. From the frescoes and mosaics of ancient Rome and egg tempera tomb paintings of ancient Egypt, through the still lifes of the Dutch and Flemish tradition and in the works of moderns like Monet and Van Gogh, the tradition of flower painting has itself proven hardy. Indigenous Art aside, Australian painting has a brief history, and many of our important Artists have been inspired to paint flowers – Margaret Olley, Grace Cossington-Smith and Margaret Preston are all counted amongst Laura’s influences. For Olley, flowers were a way to eschew fashionable trends and paint what she found around her; for Cossington-Smith a vehicle to experiment with the Modernism seen in European painting of the time (notably Post-impressionism and pointillism), whilst Preston produced robust works that reflected at once these concerns and her own keen interest in Indigenous Australian painting. Laura’s own interest in painting flora stems from a life lived amongst them – she has trained and worked as a florist. Lamenting a disinclination for Australian native varieties by many who order floral arrangements, Laura prefers to combine softer foreign examples with their hardier indigenous cousins, as in Clematis and Banksia Still Life (2013). Laura’s handling of oil paint demonstrates a range of touch – at times confident and sturdy, in other passages more tentative, perhaps self conscious. At all times, however Laura indulges in the sheer joy of colour. Hers is a rich and full palette, where one gets the feeling that every hue has been considered, but judiciously employed. The works are unashamedly decorative, which is not to say that they are mere decoration – Laura’s paintings regularly hold their own amongst the works of her contemporaries in a growing number of prizes and group shows. It simply means that the idea that Art can be beautiful (a notion considered at one point by some passé) is something in which Laura Jones, like a growing number of her contemporaries, still believes.
-Leslie Rice, February 2014