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Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
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Caroline Spalding
Features Correspondent
2:54 PM 28th September 2020

Artistry Of Lancashire: Laura Brown - Shed On The Fell

Laura Brown’s artwork is a beautiful collaboration between paper cut collage and expressive images rendered in ink and watercolour. It combines wholly bold brushstrokes and colour choices but with a delicate, intricate outcome that conveys the gentleness of nature it depicts. The pen and ink greetings cards range from a timid, unassuming field mouse; the subtle greys and browns of its coat form the backdrop to the image; which on closer inspection reveals actually the layers of paper-cuts added to form a collage creating texture and depth. This technique is replicated in the striking image of a highland cow – the bold dashes of purple ink add vibrancy; you sense the movement of its long fur in the highland winds and the cunning-looking hedgehog looks spiky to the touch.

Laura describes her work as an “illustrative reflection of the natural world” and she is inspired by the beauty of the Lancashire Fells, hills, rivers, meadows and wildlife.

After a break from art during which ‘life happened’ she began again with images created from small paper-cut collages layered over ink drawings; like the greetings cards. Her style, she says, is always changing, and latterly she has broadened into the use of watercolours and pen work. The watercolour prints appear on a range of greetings cards too; the style is recognisably Laura’s, but there is a subtle difference. Still, the colour is vibrant, the scenes both lively yet calming and the use of watercolour is both suggestive and highly detailed – firm evidence of the artist’s skill.

With growing confidence, Laura began to work with a more diverse range of scenes and subjects, on a larger scale to produce prints for purchase and even applying her artwork to a range of homeware products, from cushions to coasters. If her artwork seems familiar, it may be because you’re also a fan of Ribble Valley Gin: Laura was asked by the business to create images for their bottles and branding. The homeware collection was designed for Shruti, which is the accessories division of Half Moon Bay – a manufacturer and distributor of licensed and themed giftware. The range is available nationally through independent retailers, including local stockists such as Barton Grange near Garstang. Laura uses local businesses such as Henry Christopher Printers and the Framing Guru for her framed prints. She’s also had support from local stockists such as Potter’s Barn in Ribchester and Heritage Interiors in Longridge.

In recent years Laura has been an enthusiastic participant in Create Longridge, a day in which artworks are created in “all manner of public spaces” – an event she describes as stressful to take part in, but hugely enjoyable. It was inevitably cancelled this year, but she hopes next year it will return, bringing with it the flood of artists who flock to Longridge to take part.

Whilst she finds creativity therapeutic, Laura also enjoys walking with her Chocolate Labrador, Seb, during her downtime. Often to be found up Longridge Fell or over the Trough of Bowland; she enjoys and absorbs the beauty of the landscape and it is infused in her artwork; the wildflower cards inspired by the meadows of Slaidburn, the hares drawn from Four Acre Lane.

But, as many artists will tell you, taking the brave step to establish yourself as an artist is never easy. At first Laura felt the process of “selling herself” rather “alien” – something she still feels, as she isn’t particularly keen on the promotional side of the business. She admits that she returned to art after a lot of “badgering” from her husband and when she decided to establish Shed on the Fell, the process was akin to throwing herself in at the deep end. She booked a slot at the British Craft Trade Fair then had to rush to create a portfolio, build a website and ascertain how to price her work – all this was done in the nick of time and was a hugely encouraging first experience. Now, however, she is lucky to have people approach her with commissions and opportunities, but she is always cautious of the danger of complacency!

Lockdown, of course, was a cause of concern to Laura, but thankfully she has been supported by her customers. Her online sales have increased, and she is sustained by positive feedback – it gave comfort in between the hectic balancing act of home-schooling her children and trying to run a business.

Despite the busy schedule, Laura keeps herself on her toes by questioning the quality of her work, but still takes great pleasure in the artistic process of creating. So, after a long day, and, probably, a long dog walk with Seb, Laura is likely to be found in front of the fire with a sketchbook: an experience she finds deeply relaxing and restorative.

Laura’s work can be purchased via her website https://www.shedonthefell.com
and the full range of stockists can be found at https://www.shedonthefell.com/stockists
On Facebook Shed on the Fell can be found at https://www.facebook.com/shedonthefell and on Instagram @shedonthefell