Artist Spotlight #81: Laura Gentgall

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Hi Laura, please tell our readers a bit about who you are!
I’m a 20 year old Nursing student and artist from Adelaide. I’ve currently switched my focus from creating my own art to developing Girl Space – an inclusive all female art space. I act as a mentor to female artists and set up exhibitions and events that showcase these artists. Although this takes up a lot of my time, I still create my own art whenever I get the chance.

How did you get involved in art? What steered you on to this path?
I’ve always made art, ever since I was a little kid. I had such good art teachers during primary and high school, which really encouraged me to keep it up and continue to make art. Although neither of my parents are artists, they both have a great appreciation for art , and our house was always decorated with art. I can vividly remember a print of Gustav Klimt’s Mother and Child hanging in the hallway outside my bedroom that
always mystified me with its intricate patterns and flecks of gold.

How would you describe your style?
I think my style changes a lot as I learn more about art and as my abilities have developed. I love combining realistic aspects with more surreal or abstract line work to create interesting, layered pieces. I would describe it as quite girly, but with a strong undertone of power and authority.

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What inspires your work?
It can be the simplest thing – like a leaf I collect on the walk home from the shops or it can be someone in my life or someone I follow online. In terms of the figures and faces, my inspiration usually stems from a real person but very quickly I begin to distort what I can see to create something quite fantasy like and somewhat disconnected with the realistic female form. I am constantly inspired by the mythological connection betwee
n women and the earth, dating back to the Greek goddesses and sirens and their connection and control of the seasons and the blooming of the flowers.

Have your travel experiences shaped/inspired you as an artist?
Travel not only gave me new things to sketch and paint and new faces to draw inspiration from, but it has connected me with the art of so many both infamous and also up and coming artists. There’s something so surreal and special about seeing paintings like The Birth of Venus and The Kiss up close and seeing the brushstrokes and imagining the artists sitting down to create that piece. It sounds a bit wanky, but it honestly is a very strange and intense feeling. Apart from seeing these famous works, it has also been amazing to discover new local artists around the world and be inspired by their art.

Who is your greatest influence?
Oh god there’s so many to choose from. So many female artists inspire me – there are the
greats like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe who inspire me endlessly and are artists I always come back to but I also love the photography of Maisie Cousins and the still life’s of Anna May Henry – just to name a couple that are particularly sticking with me at the moment. Running Girl Space has also allowed me to work closely with so many female Adelaide based artists and they’re also a huge inspiration.

Can you describe your artistic and creative process?
Often I’ll just be doing something completely unrelated to art, and an idea for a painting will just come. If I don’t get it down on paper quickly, it usually disappears so as soon as I’m at home I’ll just quickly mock the idea up and then decide if it actually translates from brain to paper. A lot of the time I don’t know what a painting will look like when I start, and it usually changes so much as I’m painting it. I like to screenshot images on Instagram that I like the look of and therefore I’ve got a bit of an arsenal for when I’ve got no ideas on what I want to paint. I do the same with plants and flowers that I see when I’m out walking, and I collect old floristry and gardening books from Savers and other op shops which come in very handy for a bit of inspiration.

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Where do you want your art practice taking you in the next five years?
In the next five years, I can see myself focusing more and more on Girl Space. I feel so passionately about this project and want to dedicate as much time as possible to getting it off the ground and becoming bigger and better than it is now. I still see myself making art, but I feel that as Girl Space grows, I will find the same artistic joy from curating exhibitions and mentoring other artists.

Where can people go if they’re interested in seeing more of your work? 
To keep up to date with the Girl Space events and news on Instagram @girlspaceadl. For my own work, on Instagram @lauragentgall

Alright, final question! What is your favourite gallery in the world and why?
My favourite exhibiting space so far has been the Venice Biennale. I loved the huge expanse of it all, and the way that I could experience so many different forms and styles of art in a day. The contrast of the beautiful old buildings and pavilions with the contemporary art is so special and I found myself spending hours and hours just  wandering aimlessly around the area, always discovering a new exhibition hidden around a corner.

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