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INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN, EPISODE 5
In our fifth episode of Inspirational Women we caught up with the ambitious and talented Laura Swale, an avid artist with a mission to open up her world to the public. With our current campaign advocating for self-expression and individuality we could think of no one better to turn the spotlight on this month. Her passion in life has driven her to cultivate a career based on creative expression and community.
Her latest passion project ‘The Trail’ creates a bird’s eye view into the artists’ process by opening up studios to the public across Sliema and St.Julians, endorsed by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.
Learn more about The Trail here >
1) Can you tell us about yourself and what you do?
I'm an artist and former art teacher. Since moving to Malta I work with other artists to bring their work to a wider audience. The common theme in everything we do is the concept of the 'open studio', as a fresh and interesting take on the traditional art gallery format.
2) Where does your passion for art stem from?
I always loved drawing as a child. My classmates told me I was good at it and this had a big impact on me. So I practised a lot and improved over the years at the basic skill of draftsmanship. Although I initially struggled to introduce colour into my work, I persevered and this eventually became the most enjoyable element of what I did. I am a huge fine art fan generally. Everything from dynamic contemporary abstract art to hyper-realistic figurative painting. I have also learned to appreciate a much broader range of creative disciplines in recent years, and this is very much reflected in the projects I currently now work on with other artists.
3) Can you tell us more about ALLURA and what motivated you to found it?
Allura - Malta Open Art Studios began when I accidentally created my own 'open studio'. It wasn't an intentional thing at all. I was looking for a workplace in which to paint and I was lucky enough to be given temporary use of empty premises in a very busy area in St Julian's. As I painted, curious people would wander in to see what I was doing. I wasn't set up for visitors and it hadn't occurred to me that what I was doing would generate such interest. But when it did, I knew I was on to something. I had inadvertently stumbled across the 'open studio' format and seeing how popular it was, I decided that I was going to do something with it.
4) What advice would you give to creatives wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I spent many years in a secure and respectable job related to what I loved, gradually moving up the ladder. On paper it seemed like it should have been a fulfilling career, but having to conform to fit into the educational system made me miserable. I just couldn't be myself. I eventually got sick of hearing myself complain, so when I finally had an opportunity to break free and work for myself, I jumped straight in. It continues to be very challenging, demanding and uncertain, but I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China. I've faced some daunting situations and struggled with obstacles and disappointments, but the rewards mean so much more when you've set the goals yourself. If you want to choose your work, your colleagues, partners and environment, then become self-employed and design a career around what works for you. At first it'll be a rollercoaster, but if you pull it off, you'll have a true sense of achievement and career satisfaction. I'm still working on it personally and I have a long way to go, but I would encourage anyone with focus, emotional resilience and a good work ethic to go for it. It's only the things you don't do that you regret, not the other way around.
5) What characteristics have been integral to your creative prowess and progression in your field?
You might be expecting to hear an inspiring answer to this question, like creative flair, entrepreneurial spirit or people skills, but in reality it's some less exciting traits which have been the most useful so far. I'd say impatience can be a good thing for sure; it can really help you get things done. A willingness to sacrifice down-time and fun to work extra hours has also been necessary. It sounds dull and sometimes it can be, but these slightly obsessive tendencies do get results. And finally, I have been blessed (or cursed) with something known in our family as 'The Keen Gene'. We all have it to some extent. On the one hand it's passion, energy and drive, and on the other, it's a special kind of stubbornness which drives everyone mad, because when you're excited about something, you simply will not let it go.
For more information on Laura’s art visit her website >
Or if you’d like to learn more about ALLURA and get involved click here >