Kathryn Sutter speaks to environmental artist Laura Ribbons and views her work in the old town. 

Laura Ribbons is currently showcasing her first solo exhibition since the pandemic at the Crown Pub in All Saints Street. Laura, who has a degree in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art, moved to Hastings in 2019 and works from her home studio in the Old Town. 

Laura had completed a master’s degree in Environmental Anthropology in 2016. This shaped her art and allowed her
to further explore her interest in the relationship between humans and plants, the focus of her work. Laura explains
the inspiration behind the exhibition, Botanical, a series of original works featuring bold mural-like works. Painted in watercolour the exhibition offers a striking escape into the natural world. She says: “I became involved in the environmental movement in 2012 and was all set to move away from art when I started my master’s. However, I soon realised that academia wasn’t for me and that I could explore my thoughts about the natural world through art, in a more joyful and accessible way. In the Global North plants are often seen as quite distanced and separate. However, for things like the climate crisis I feel we need to readdress the balance to consider plants as equal to us and see them as individuals. My work explores plant life and our connection to it. In my pieces I also question what nature is. For example, many of us – including myself – enjoy constructed nature like gardens, but is this authentic nature? I hope that my art opens up conversations around these contradictions.”

CREDIT: Laura Ribbons

Puma Outlines

The exhibition includes detailed work as well as smaller paintings on board. One standout piece is Through your eyes. Laura explains the inspiration behind it: “This piece was inspired by the Runa people, a tribal group from Ecuador. They believe that when ancestors die, they become pumas. They sleep on their backs so that the pumas can recognise them when they pass by. If you look closely at this painting, you can see puma outlines in the image. Creating this piece reminded me that in many cultures around the world animals are seen as kin rather than separate beings, they are intrinsically linked.

I like to explore this idea of kin and intrinsic links. During lockdown as many of our worlds shrank, I began painting my houseplants. Often houseplants blur into the background and become just a part of our space. This project helped me to see my plants as individuals and to seek inspiration from nature around me, starting at home”.

Laura is passionate about making her work accessible and open to all and hopes that everyone will take something away from the exhibition. All of her work is affordably priced to suit a range of budgets. When she is not working as an artist she teaches and has recently led workshops at the Dirty Old Gallery in the Old Town. She is planning further workshops for this summer. 

Botanical will be at the Crown pub until the 15 May. To find out more about Laura and her work visit www.lauraribbons.com or follow her on Instagram @laura.ribbons

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