On the run-up to Chelsea Flower Show 2019, we will be shining a light on each of the artisans chosen to exhibit in the Artisan Area. This week we meet the sculptress, Laura Jane Wylder whose work is inspired by a passion for dance.
LAURA JANE WYLDER
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST?
Growing up dancing was my true passion and creative outlet. I was set on a career in ballet but at 18 a serious injury suddenly prevented it. So I went into a career in marketing.
I enjoyed it enough, but it didn’t capture my heart as dancing had done. And then when I met my now husband and business partner, Sebastian, everything changed again.
Seb is a skilled mould-maker and casting expert: he facilitates sculptors by making moulds of original artworks, ready for them to be cast in a variety of mediums. The process captured my interest, so I began to create simple sculptural forms for Seb to mould and cast in stone.
That’s how I ‘found my feet’ as an artist. Career-wise it was a bold step but felt natural. Amazingly, I discovered when I’m sculpting, I’m full of the same sense of freedom and joy I once felt dancing.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK?
My work is elegant and contemporary. My bronze sculptures are predominantly figurative with graceful organic flowing curves. The collection ranges in size from small tabletop pieces a handspan high to much larger lifesizesculptures for the garden.
I am eager to make beautiful pieces that appeal to everybody. They are characters with gently-softened features so that rather than being an exact likeness of any individual they instead represent the best of humanity in general.
WHERE DO YOU WORK AND HOW DOES THIS SPACE FEED INTO YOUR WORK?
I have a small studio at home in Oxfordshire; it’s my favourite place as it’s bright, calming and organised; full of plants, crystals and books along with endless bags of clay and different sculpting tools so it encourages me to contemplate and create.
Once I get into a sculpture almost nothing can distract me so its important to be in a comfortable space. I spend literally hours at a time working on a piece. I especially appreciate the amazing view of the Chiltern Hills from the studio window. Often my figures will express the moments of peace and contentment felt when taking in the beauty of nature and the world around us.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGN?
My passion for ballet inspires my designs. I’m also influenced by the spiritual and creative elements found in nature, an appreciation of life and mankind’s place in the universe.
In my figurative sculpture, I’m driven to capture the liberating and almost meditative experience of being completely absorbed in the moment.
When I stopped dancing, finding and celebrating inner peace became important.
I hope the peaceful nature of my sculptures will not only add beauty and interest to a space but also offer the viewer a sense of perspective, and serve as a reminder to appreciate and revel in the wonderful world around them.
WHAT PIECE HAS BEEN THE MOST FUN TO CREATE SO FAR?
Although I find it more challenging, I especially enjoy working on larger scale sculptures. The large ‘Moonbather’at almost 6ft tall with ample curves and swooshing hair was great fun to sculpt.
I’m not formally trained so my technique doesn’t follow any rules. Fortunately, working in clay allows a freedom to make and reshape the form as much as I like until I’m content with the piece.
Working on a larger scale allows an amplified flow of motion and energy into the clay which I find really satisfying. I love seeing the curve of my movements reflected in the sculpture.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW THIS YEAR?
I’m so grateful and absolutely delighted to have been chosen for an artisan studio at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. To be able to show my work in such an incredible environment is a wonderful opportunity.
I’ve committed to sculpting a new piece during the show which will be great fun but also a little scary with such a broad audience!
I’m looking forward to meeting and sharing my work with all sorts of people, I really hope to be as inspiring as I am inspired.