Lauren Baker (b. 1982) is an established multi-disciplinary artist based in London who creates significant, large-scale installations. Her work explores the human connection and the expansiveness of the universe. We asked Lauren about her art and inspiration!
Overall she aims to raise the vibrations of love and connection within the world. A goal which seems extremely pertinent during the current covid-19 pandemic. We hope you enjoy learning about Lauren's artworks, practice and inspirations.
We Are One represents, how we are a drop of water, yet we are the whole ocean. We are distanced and yet we are cosmically connected together.
You were born in Middlesbrough, a post-industrial North Yorkshire English town. Was there much art in your life during your childhood?
Art wasn’t really in my field growing up. I lived in one of the poorest estates in Middlesbrough. I didn’t get a lot of art, but I did get a lot of love!
Where did that love of art come from?
At home growing up, there was a big African cultural influence after my dad went to work in Ghana when I was between six and eight years old. My two brothers and I visited for a month at a time. I loved the colourful fabrics, textured threads and carved wooden sculptures. On his return my dad’s home was full of African music and treasures.
That sounds so vibrant! Looking back, do you think you can see aspects of your creativity developing?
I remember I liked my game of ‘collecting treasure’ which was pretty much mini random objects and bits of what you might call rubbish! I liked to store these tiny collections in tiny boxes and rearrange them in patterns.
At school Art was my favourite lesson. I got an A for GCSE art but it wasn’t because I was the best technically. It was because my ideas were wild and I used about twenty different materials for my final piece.
Your interest in using a multitude of materials clearly stayed with you - why didn't you pursue art further after finishing school?
Sadly though I had a belief that art was for wealthy people and didn’t think it was an option for me. I wish I’d known earlier than 28 that exploring art was a possibility, yet I’ve certainly made up for lost creative time since then.
Becoming an Artist: Lauren's Epiphany
Lauren describes a life-changing trip to South America in 2012. Deep in the Peruvian Amazon she had an epiphany that was the beginning of her journey as a professional artist. You can read more about this life-changing moment on her website.
My quest for the meaning of life led me to travel the world searching for deeper understanding and this led me to creativity.
A very spiritual moment changed your life and led you to become an artist. Do you feel an affinity with artists such as Joseph Beuys, who see art as a form of Shamanism?
I love Joseph Beuys statement ‘everyone is an artist’ – what a legend. He recognized early on the potential for art to transform society. I truly believe that every human is an artist, we just haven’t all had the opportunity to express ourselves. Now in crisis its very apparent that people are lifted and connected through creativity. Creativity is a great way to connect.
Environmental Activism Through Art
I'm sure that our DailyArt Magazine readers will agree that art is a point of connection! Not just between people but with the world. So far, you have used your artworks to raise over £70 000 for environment charities. Is interest in activism related to the origins of your artistic career?
It’s a full circle, a sacred triangle actually. I combine art with spirituality and giving back. I have a triangle tattooed on each foot from when I studied metaphysics in Guatemala.
Last year I was considering what my higher purpose was and I so focused on large scale environmental art activism installations. I like to leave a place better than how I find it. It's my intention to raise the frequency, not just at a party, but for earth too!
I am currently collaborating with: One Tree Planted, Save Wild Tigers, Help Refugees, and The Big Issue. I support these amazing causes through my artwork. I have a mission to plant 8888 trees in the Amazon for example. You can help here!
On the Art World: Money, New Directions and Inspirations
Art and money-making have been inherently linked throughout Art History and is an interesting topic that any artist must navigate. In this century artists like Jeff Koons (yes, the one of the Balloon Dogs, Louis Vuitton and Champagne Venus) and works like Maurizio Cattelan’s (remember the White House and the golden toilet affair?) Comedian have caused quite a stir, and Lauren also has had some very lucrative commissions.
We talked earlier about the myth that art is for wealthy people. So how do you feel about making art for large sums of money?
I'm a self funded artist so selling the art is a crucial part of the journey. At the beginning each artwork funds the next - until you make something big, and then the journey gets more interesting.
In the early years, I’d rather buy art materials than have good food or taxis because the art fed me the most.
And things certainly have gotten interesting. Your commissions include making a Steinway grand piano encrusted with crystals in Qatar. What leads you to such expensive pieces?
I like my creations made with the best quality materials and am always exploring new tools and techniques. I'm a multi-disciplinary artist meaning I use a plethora of materials and surfaces to create. I'm constantly evolving, upping my creative game.
At the time of the crystal piano I had two studios with 23 staff. It sold for £430 000. This year I made two large scale installations in the Unesco protected desert of Al Ula, with six figure budgets. This has allowed me the freedom to go big, and to take my ideas to a whole new level of intricacy and design innovation.
I’m not mega driven by money though. Some of my works are very luxurious and some are deeply meaningful and some are both. One of the things I most appreciate working with larger budgets is travelling and exhibiting around the world with my art.
It's brilliant that you've navigated the art-world and pursued a dream career. How do you maintain clarity on this journey?
The art market is unregulated and crazy. I seem to have meandered my way through in a somewhat unusual way; not studying art, yet I just went for it. I am a very spiritual person and can sense energy. I see there is a lot of fluffy nonsense - smoke and mirrors. I'm also pretty deep in this art game but I try to detach egotistical aspects. I focus on rituals and my aim to alter states of consciousness through my art.
It can be a roller-coaster of emotions creating to a deadline leading up to big solo shows and important installations.
The arty social scene is a lot of fun with such interesting characters. One of the great things about the art-world is this enormous sense of celebration – we celebrate the birth and the appreciation of art, it’s a social community. My art fair circuit involves London, Miami, Switzerland, NYC, and LA. I’ve just got representation in Hong Kong, so I’ll be heading there in 2021.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I just bought a three bed church conversion (via auction during lockdown) with beautiful elaborate windows. I’m planning to put iridescent stained glass in. Coming from the roughest council estate in Middlesbrough, I’m going to really enjoy and celebrate designing my first art pad.
Do you have a message for budding artists?
Read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a wonderful book on living the creative life authentically and fully. I would love to inspire young people, especially girls from under-privileged backgrounds, to believe in their dreams and manifest their creative desires. I was invited to give art talks at The Institute of Art and Ideas where I talked about ‘creativity triggers’ and ‘blue sky thinking’ –about how to get and maintain a creative mindset. I see myself as a global ambassador for creativity. Inspiring people to create feels beautiful.
Talking about inspiration - do you collect art yourself?
My personal collection includes a few David Shrigley pieces and a Tracey Emin. I also collect art skateboards (including Magnus Gjoen, Basquiat and Hirst) and have a Damien Hirst butterfly deck chair. I collect the work of my assistants too.
What other artists inspire you?
Transition - Lauren's Breakthrough Solo Show
The Transition series uses everyday materials, such as broken glass. In a more elaborate version of her game of 'collecting treasure' Lauren transforms these collections into something sublime.
What led you to this idea of mosaics made from everyday materials?
I didn't study art so mosaics was my first experience of art at twenty-eight, since leaving art at sixteen. After joining the mosaic street art project in Brazil, my passion was lit.
I wanted to bring a new contemporary twist to mosaics. I present these potentially dangerous materials in minimal white with flowing patterns around a lot of empty space.
Despite the minimal presentation, the titles of the works seem important and even link the pieces. How biographical are these artworks?
I’d Swim to the deepest depths to find you – you and I’d swim to the deepest depths to find you – me is my favorite diptych in the series. These are two three-dimensional paintings using my bed sheets, resin and deep turquoise paint. There is a tiny tiny figure in each painting. One swims in harsh currents while the other is floating and drifting. They are headed towards each other yet the energy is different. One person is working way too hard! A very personal piece. I can laugh about it now (thankfully he’s an ex).
Into the Neon Lights
The Transition Series is quite different to some of your more recent works, such as the neon phrases. How did those pieces develop?
My neon started with sayings that I said frequently such as when I was into someone I’d say ‘you blow my mind’ and my life mantra ‘everything is going to be fucking amazing’. I then developed into abstract mixed media light works such as Transcending which is my personal depiction of meditation.
'Everything has an energy and a frequency'
Meditation is an important part of your practice, can your viewers connect with this when looking at your art?
Each artwork in the Colour of Energy series, comes with a soundscape link so people can play the sound of the chakra whilst gazing at the connected artwork – to really feel the piece on a whole new level.
For example, ‘341.1Hz’ sound frequency is for the heart chakra artwork which has a main color of green interwoven with many other color glows.
The Icelandic spectacle of the aurora borealis and subsequent research into chakra energy and frequencies inspires The Colour Of Energy. The series explores color therapy and intuition. Lauren mixes the mediums of refracted light, subtle sound, textures, and expressive digital painting.
You can explore more of Lauren's art here.
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