Laura Swale is a British ex-pat who has been living in Malta since April 2016. Laura is a former secondary art teacher and head of department of 15 years and she has worked in schools in the UK and overseas. Laura is now working to set up arts projects in Malta – “I’d like to change the way we experience art so that more of us will want to go and see it and hopefully get back in touch with our own creativity as a result” she says…
When and how did you get started? I was always drawing as a child. My classmates would ask me to draw pictures for them and I realised I had a bit of a flair for observational drawing. This developed into a more refined skill the more I practised. I studied art in Bath, England and later became an artist and secondary school art teacher.
What genre do you consider your work to be? Most of my work can be described as figurative and highly detailed or realistic in style, but it does not neatly fall into a category or genre. I recently began creating abstract work and designing illuminated pieces painted onto glass or semi-opaque canvas. I go through cycles of intense creative activity followed by periods where life becomes so busy that my priorities change for a while. But I always come back to my artwork and each new episode sees greater evolution, either through experimentation or through the impact of a change of environment and stage of life.
Describe your work in 10 words or less. Bold, bright, colourful, fresh and light
Where was your first exhibition held? This was my degree show in Bath Spa University College. Since then I have taken part in several shows and studio trails.
Do you have a favourite from among your own artworks? If so, why? Yes, my favourite piece is my Silver Birch. I like this piece because it feels fresh and clear and it gives the viewer an upward facing viewpoint looking towards the clear blue sky. It’s also very British. I painted this from a real tree in Winter and you can see the green mossy coating on the branches. Despite the fact that it was painted in Winter, the weather is still sunny and it captures the best of the fresh, cool British climate this time of year. I also like this piece for the reaction it gets from people, which is always very positive. I have been offered money for this piece many times but I will never sell it. As an artist, people assume that painting is always a joy. This isn’t true, it can be very hard. It can be frustrating, disappointing, challenging and labour intensive. So, I don’t enjoy making every piece of art, but this one was a real pleasure.
What are you working on at the moment? Right now I am working on a cityscape of the Valletta skyline. It is not the traditional view from Sliema, but one from the rooftop of Fort St Elmo. Urban landscapes are unfamiliar to me but I chose this one because I wanted to capture the essence of Malta and its most distinctive cultural icon.
Which artist’s work are you most inspired by? How long do you have? I have many artists who inspire me. Kurt Jackson, Jonathan Yeo, John Singer Sargeant, Robert Rauscheberg, Alphonse Mucha and in Malta there is Andrew Borg, who has become a friend of mine. I particularly like acrylic and resin pouring techniques and would like to really explore these in future. I am also a massive fan of mixed media and collage, I love to be a jack of all trades and experiment with combining techniques.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? If I could claim a different talent, it would be to sing and play piano.
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
A life filled with love and my time free to do the things I enjoy.
What brought you to Malta?
My brother was living here. I visited him and he later suggested I come here to live. The rest is history.
What do you love about Malta? What’s not to like? Malta is an incredibly beautiful combination of sun, culture, warmth, joy, fun, beauty and opportunity.
What do you hate about Malta? The roads and the litter, but luckily these pet hates are far outweighed by the positive aspects of living here. Coming to Malta has marked a real turning point in my life and so I like to focus on the good things. I feel very fortunate to live here.
Favourite colour and what it means to you? That’s like asking me to choose a favourite child. I suppose if I had a gun to my head I would choose turquoise, the colour of the Maltese sea.
What is your favourite indulgence? An Indian head massage and a glass of Prosecco, preferably both at the same time