Laurel is a socially engaged artist, educator and place maker. She produces child centred, artist-led, co-creative projects with urban communities in disused spaces.
Laurel graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2000 with a BA (Hons) Fine Art. She went on to complete her PGCE in Art & Design at Oxford Brookes University in 2003. While teaching in secondary education she gained a PGDip in Art & Design Education at the Institute of Education where she researched creativity as a process and developed action research projects within the classroom.
In 2011 Laurel moved to Australia, leaving her career in teaching and returning to her art practise as a narrative painter. Her paintings explored the confines of modern childhood, a desire to return to the wild and the disconnect between people, places and nature. She titled her paintings ‘Illustrations from the Feral State’ and began to use the Feral State as an artist identity and branding for her projects.
In 2016 Laurel directed the ‘Feral Spaces of Middleport’ pilot project in Stoke-on-Trent. Funded by the Arts Council this project connected a team of artists and young people with the creative potential of disused urban green spaces.
‘Feral Spaces’ is a concept grown from Laurel’s belief that “we need spaces where we can connect with our sense of self, place and community. Wild spaces provide stimulating environments filled with possibilities and memories that bring us closer to both nature and humanity”.
Work w/ CUSP
The ‘Feral Spaces’ 2017 project has been funded by the Big Lottery Fund and will provide research opportunities for CUSP to explore visions of the ‘good life’ for young people in Stoke on Trent.
Laurel has built partnerships with disadvantaged communities, artists and academics to research the potential benefits disused urban green spaces can provide young people in Stoke on Trent. A series of ‘Urban Explorers’ sessions, led by Laurel, with a photographer and videographer, will facilitate the young people’s creative ideas and record their adventures through a disused urban green space. The ideas will be captured and inform the co-creation of a large scale ‘Monument’ that transforms the identity of this disused urban green space.
CUSP Phd students have been invited to take part in, observe and report on the process of transformation. The project will conclude with an ‘Invitation to Adventure’ for the wider community to share the young people’s experiences and take psychological ownership of the space.
Laurel hopes to develop and expand the ‘Feral Spaces’ project with disadvantaged urban communities both locally and nationally.