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Artist Interview: Introducing Lauren Baker

Portrait of artist Lauren Baker in her studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

Women Artists

Artist Interview: Introducing Lauren Baker

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.

Lauren Baker, We Are One, 2017
Lauren Baker, We Are One, 2017, white neon on white aluminium circle 100 x 100cm, edition of three, image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Early Life

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!

Lauren Baker, image courtesy of the artist. Photography by Neil Collins.
Lauren Baker, image courtesy of the artist. Photography by Neil Collins.

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.

Lauren Baker with 24 Millions Years Ago, image courtesy of the artist. Photography by Neil Collins.
Lauren Baker with 24 Millions Years Ago, image courtesy of the artist. Photography by Neil Collins.

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.

Lauren Baker, An Open Dialogue with Nature, 2019
Lauren Baker, An Open dialogue with Nature, 2019, mixed medium, image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lauren Baker, Universal Frequency, 2017
Lauren Baker, Universal Frequency, 2017, pink neon with hand applied diamond dust and ink on canvas, edition of six, image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lauren Baker, Secrets of the Universe , 2016
Lauren Baker, Secrets of the Universe, 2016, white neon on black aluminium triangular, image courtesy of the artist.

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!

Mission to Plant 8888 Trees in the Amazon
Image courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Jason Purple.

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.

SAVE WILD TIGERS 2014 Tiger exhibition curated by Lauren Baker at Sanderson Hotel raising £67K
Lauren Baker, The Tiger, 2014, Cast resin tigers’ head with hand-placed Swarovski crystals, Image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lauren Baker, The Crystal Grand Piano, 2016.

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.

Frequency Of The Moon - Al Ula Desert, 2020
Lauren Baker, Frequency of the Moon – Al Ula Desert, 2020, Neon, metal, wood, mix material
4.1 × 2.4m, Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo credit: Roman Scott. With thanks to Azimuth and MT Art.
Inspired by the visual frequency of 210.42Hz, this is a huge sphere of light with lines of neon. The exterior sphere contains 30 mirrored fins, edged in neon light on both the front and back, for a 360 light experience.

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.

Frequency Of The Sun - Al Ula Desert, 2020
Lauren Baker, Frequency of the Sun – Al Ula Desert, 2020, Recycled plastic, wood and metal
4.1 × 2.4m, Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo credit: Roman Scott. With thanks to Azimuth and MT Art.
The surface pattern of the sculpture was formed using experimental software, taking a segment of the visual frequency of the sun which is 126.22Hz, and morphing this into a sphere of amorphous shapes to represent the movement of the sun. Since creating the artwork starting in mid 2019, new high-resolution images of the sun were released from an advanced solar telescope in Maui in Jan 2020, with astonishing similarity. The sun’s acoustical waves bounce from one side of the sun to the other in about two hours, causing the sun’s surface to oscillate as the sun vibrates up and down, in and out.

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 fullyI 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. 

Inspiration

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?

Arts Council Collection: Seizure by Roger Hiorns
Roger Hiorns, Seizure: In 2008 Roger Hiorns, commissioned by Artangel and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, transformed an empty council flat in Southwark, London, into a sparkling blue environment of copper sulphate crystals. Read more here.
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room
Yayoi Kusuma, Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, 2011, Mirrored glass, wood, aluminium, plastic, ceramic and LEDs, Tate, London, UK.
Anish Kapoor, Ishi’s Light
Anish Kapoor, Ishi’s Light, presented by Tate International Council, 2005, Tate, London,UK.

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.

Lauren Baker, Equilibrium, 2015
Lauren Baker, Equilibrium, 2015, wood needles and acrylic paint on canvas, part of the Transition Series, image courtesy of the artist.

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?

Lauren Baker, I'd Swim To The Deepest Depths To Find You, 2017
Lauren Baker, I’d Swim to the deepest depths to find you, 2017, part of the Transition Series, image courtesy of the artist.

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).

Lauren Baker, I'd Swim To The Deepest Depths To Find You, 2017
Lauren Baker, I’d Swim to the deepest depths to find you, 2017, part of the Transition Series, image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lauren Baker, You Blow My Mind, 2015
Lauren Baker, You Blow My Mind, 2015, Pink neon mounted on Perspex (edition of six), image courtesy of the artist.

‘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 Colour Of Energy, 2018
Lauren Baker, The Colour of Energy, 2018, immersive multi-sensory art, neon, diamond dust, canvas, ink, rife machine and sound devices, image courtesy of the artist.

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.

Lauren Baker, Galaxy Explosion (Diamond Dust - Blue), 2018
Lauren Baker, Galaxy Explosion (Diamond Dust – Blue), ink on Hahnemühle 308gsm photo rag with hand applied diamond dust, edition of 50, image courtesy of the artist.

Want to check out more interviews with artists? We suggest:


Isla graduated with a first class BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge in 2018. Her specialisms were Art, Archaeology and the Roman poet Ovid. After graduation she spent a year in Japan, where she interned as a curatorial assistant at the Fukuoka Asian Arts Museum. Currently, Isla is studying for a History of Art MA at Birkbeck, London (part-time). Professionally (full-time) Isla  is the Director of the Kent Academies Network University Access Programme and also a teacher at a school in Kent.

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