Artist Laura Wills has recently moved into Central Studios’ new home, a former industrial warehouse in Kent Town. It’s a generous space, housing around a dozen artists, with natural light, high ceilings and common areas.
Wills is thrilled to be part of this new space where she creates drawings, paintings and prints. But her studio is not her only working space — she can also be found outdoors, collaborating on community garden projects or hosting guided walks along urban creeks.
Wills describes her artistic approach as an expanded practice. Her focus and passions are in the land and environment, and she often works with scientists, ethicists, gardeners and educators.
Laura Wills, You and Me, 2017
A delightful example of this is Dear Golden Delicious, which Wills produced when she was the SALA 2015 artist in residence at Adelaide Central Market. Creating a cardboard garden in the markets, she invited people to write letters to their favourite fruits and vegetables. Posted amongst the garden on cardboard leaves, these homages included small portions of sweetness such as “Dear carrot, I hope you grow tall” and “Dear onion, you are into everything”. For this work, Wills created the fertile ground and the audience added the context and content.
Wills is particularly interested in projects that are informed by ecological issues and in May 2017 she created Creek Lore, a guided walk along First Creek between Marryatville High School and Tusmore Park. The public was invited to engage with the local environment and hear stories of the creek as it flows through public and private land.
Back in the studio, Wills has been working on a more sombre collaboration with photographer James Tylor. Frontier Wars is based on harrowing colonial maps that depict battle lines drawn by the English against Indigenous Australians.
Using images of country photographed by Tylor as a foundation layer, Wills then redraws the colonial maps creating a merging and re-working of the relationship between the original inhabitants, their land and the colonisers. The first series of this project was exhibited at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and in January 2018 the next iteration will be shown at the London Photo Fair.
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Header image: Laura Wills working in-studio (photo: Lee Knowles)