Lara Scolari is a Contemporary Australian Visual Artist, who lives and works full time on her art making practice within her vibrant light filled studio located in the heart of Sydney’s harbour side village of Balmain.
Tell us about yourself
I am Balmain born and bred and moved away for work in my early 20s to Dubbo. There I was the education officer at the Dubbo Regional Gallery Western Plains Cultural Centre. In Dubbo I fell madly in love with a farm boy, Pete, and we have been married for 23 years. We had 3 baby boys and now that our sons are older, we decided to move back to Balmain and to focus on my art making practice. I felt I needed to be here in Sydney for my art making, to establish myself with a finger on the pulse and for the dynamic cultural life that Sydney offers.
I have just completed my Masters in Art and Design through UNSW Art & Design (formerly COFA). Art making is my life and it’s all I do. I feel like I’m starting my career later for when I was younger I was having babies and supporting my husband’s career. Pete is happy in Balmain and he still has the business in both Dubbo and in Sydney.
Tell us about your art and your gallery
My gallery is an open studio/creative space. When we moved to Sydney I found this dilapidated 3 storey timber 1860’s terrace on Beattie St with every level a separate unit. Growing up in Balmain I realised the property was huge for the area, so we grabbed it and are currently converting it to one big family home, art gallery and creative space. The bottom floor is my art studio, the middle floor has the gallery at the front and the top floor is our family space.
Living here and the people that pop in have changed my career direction as I always have paintings out the front. A lady came in one day because she just happens to park on Beattie St. She said her interior designer was coming over that day and would love to show him the pieces she had picked out. I helped her to the car and we loaded the art works in. He loved them and I later found out it was Greg Natale, one of Australia’s leading interior designers! I’ve developed a fantastic working relationship with him and have since collaborated on many projects. As an action/gestural painter, within my artwork I talk about energy and how would we visualise emotional energy. It’s these emotional landscapes of energy that I paint and create.
What services do you provide?
A huge side of my business is being commissioned for clients and interior designers. I create site-specific original statement artworks for a restaurant, boardroom or family home as examples. When creating a commission artwork I always provide 2 options based on the brief given so the client has a choice. I also do art rental for real estate styling. I love it when people love my work – it’s so beautiful and I’m very open to them borrowing my works to test out in their space, for a special event or whatever they may need.
I am consistently working towards another exhibition and creating a new body of work that consists of around 40 art works each year. I always have artworks in my studio that are ready-made for people to purchase.
I am excited about 2018; I will be exploring the emotion and energy of the ocean and experimenting with new techniques, and effervescent hues of blues and greens.
Every year my work develops further and there is something different and more evolved however I can always go back and revisit techniques and processes from previous series. Continually developing my art making practice gives my clients, collectors, followers and supporters the opportunity continue on the art journey with me as well as always seeing something new.
This year I produced ‘Nocturn’ which explored and discussed the emotional rural landscapes of the Western NSW sheep and wheat belt. The gestural shapes, layers of ink and pastel engaged with the sentiments and energy of the people and the land.
Next year I am honoured to be exhibiting in Paddington, Maitland Regional Gallery with a special artist dinner at Merewether and another show at the Gold Coast.
I’ve heard you’re having a studio clear out in preparation for 2018, tell us more?
I’d love to invite people to come and view my studio and if you’ve been thinking about getting an original “Lara Scolari” art work, it’s a great time to buy direct from the studio with free pre-Christmas delivery anywhere in Sydney. My studio is closing 21 December and re-opening in February 2018 so make sure you pop by soon!
I love your artwork, what has influenced your style?
I am influenced by many artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, John Olsen, Brett Whitely, Hans Hoffman & Mark Rothko. I am an abstract expressionist artist that draws and paints using many mediums. I’ve had many years of study and lots of fabulous teachers and talented fellow students and peers. I’ve tried very hard to forge my own style and to stay true to myself; I don’t know anyone who does it like me. You have to be so independent and fresh and do it your way and if they like it – great! If not – tough! As long as people form an opinion and it incites discussion and or an emotive response – it’s a success.
The best thing about abstract art is that people bring to it their own interpretation. When clients acquire my art for the first year they might see something and then later see something else. I focus on my works being engaging, interesting and quite complex. As I’m a gestural painter and I use my body to capture the thought/emotion and then translate this visually onto the canvas.
Working in an art gallery for so long and seeing so much art, I love it when other artists cannot work out how I have made my painting. I purposely hope to intrigue to evoke emotion and discussion.
People ask me “how do you get that effect?” Basically it’s 25 years of playing in the studio with my thoughts and processes and knowledge. I’m always experimenting and my studio is filled with various items that I use; dedicated instruments, recycled, bottles, lids, packaging, toys, straws, string, tape, netting, mesh, and fabric. I use spray paint, beautiful high quality art supplies, masking inks and fluids, and rope – it’s never ending. When you are in that creative process it’s like mediation and when the ideas happen you need everything on hand to make the idea work. It’s the moment when the magic happens and the magic people get when they acquire my art.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired by the emotion and energy that is within me, places I visit, people that inspire and our landscape. I translate this into a visual language using my own personal dialogue.
It’s all about the composition and I like to use an old master’s technique where you take a composition and extract out the elements of design. I then create a Marquette of this image and this begins the artwork. I use organic shapes that relate to the human form, woman, and at a cellular structure of life. I reduce this down to forms and from that composition I bring it to life. I decide on my colour pallet before I begin and that’s all I know – everything else is an experiment and a mystery. I sometimes make happy mistakes, which then become workable and good. I leave it open and never go into making an artwork focused on creating a masterpiece. It’s just about having fun and capturing that moment of magic!
You are an accomplished artist with many exhibitions and awards. What has been your most favourite acknowledgement of your work? Why?
I have a few! When head curator Allan Sisley approached me have a solo exhibition at Orange Regional Gallery; he loved my work, supported me and pushed me to go to the next level. Collaborating with Greg Natale who has purchased my work for his clients is really exciting. As well as Jen Bishop from the Interiors Addict and many other of Sydney’s leading interior designers. It’s encouraging and very flattering to know Australia’s interior design royalty like my stuff and watch and comment on what I do, particularly on Instagram.
I am also working with The Designer Boys to create a fine print collection of my selected artwork, which is one of the only places you can purchase a print of my originals.
This year it was a great honour to be approached by Dominic Maunsell and Ted Wickes of the Maunsell Wickes Gallery, which is the oldest and a very prestigious art gallery in Sydney. This was a big feather in my fine art hat.
And now with Designer Rugs Australia I just have signed a contract and am creating a Lara Scolari Collection for their corporate clients both here and overseas!
Tell us about your ideal day – what would you do and whom would you do it with?
My ideal day is to get up early, as I’m a morning person and a day worker. I used to exercise at this time but found it was taking away from my time with my husband and family so instead we sit and have 2-3 cups of tea and plan our day. When everyone goes to work, school, or uni I’m left in my house on my own, which I love! I jump online and do what needs to be done and then finally I get so excited to get down to the studio, I put the music on and immerse myself. With my phone on silent I then create, create, create. Because I work in layers (as there can be 40-50 layers in one painting) often I have to wait to allow it to dry so then I am forced to stop. I then grab my puppy (pug dog Barry) and go for another coffee and sushi for lunch then it’s straight back to the studio. People see me in the street and ask if I’m waiting for paint to dry, which is often the case. I love summer as it dries faster. In winter I have all the heaters on and it’s like the Bahamas in my studio!
Then in the evenings I stop working and love my Netflix so I get the telly on. We enjoy the restaurants and I will do a lot of breakfasts with my girlfriends and lots of dinners out – actually I don’t think I eat at home all that often!
I am best when…?
The sun is up and I am in my studio creating.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
Balmain! All the restaurants and what I missed when living in the country is the energy on the streets of Balmain. I love that Balmain is still working class and everyone is always on the way to somewhere with always something to do. I feel that I get to harness a bit of what’s happening and as a result it’s happening to me. The community is amazing.
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