Sometimes you can put an artist and their work together. Sometimes you can’t. Put Lytham-based Laura Havenhead firmly into that second category.
Dwarfed by larger than life powerful portraits of what she describes “individuals who live in a social and cultural limbo – asylum seekers,” Laura is the bubbly and enthusiastic opposite of the brooding canvasses she has created.
“People say I’m a dark horse but I wouldn’t dream of doing pretty pictures of the Lake District,” she laughs. “Maybe it’s my frustrations and my angst coming out in my paintings but I could never just ‘make work’ for the sake of it – they always had to have a purpose.”
Having previously exhibited as part of the Blott collective on King Street in Blackpool and with Emily D’Andreas at FY Creatives on Church Street in the resort, she is now going it alone with half a dozen works on display at Sides 1 in the Tudor Buildings, South Westby Street in Lytham until March 8.
The 24-year old attended Queen Mary School and later Preston College before complementing her a levels at night school to gain a place at Leeds Metropolitan University studying art.
“I didn’t know anyone art wise,” she admits. “I didn’t have influences or role models, I just knew it was something I wanted to do.”
For more than two years she was putting in shifts of more than 14 hours a day – looking after her mum’s former Matchplay shop in Lytham when her mother wasn’t well, studying, painting and working at the Clifton Hotel where she still supplements her income with bar and waitressing work.
She moved back to her parents’ home in Lytham about a year ago after becoming disenchanted with the area of Leeds she was in – but admits that urban life had its affect.
“I think the paintings happen because I was always prepared to fight someone else’s corner,” says Laura. “Plus it’s bit like putting my diary on canvas.
“It’s probably not what people expect when they meet me but they say that art is the soul of society – so I think this is part of my soul.”
Now her private musings are hanging for all to see she admits she feels a bit a parent whose children have grown up.
“I feel I’m sending them off into the world so it’s nice to hear good things said about them,” says Laura.