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Ffern Artist Lauren Emily Wilson in the garden Autumn 20.

Lauren Emily Wilson

To begin the series, we asked Lauren Emily Wilson to respond to Autumn 20. The result is an ethereal family of pastel drawings that capture the evolution of a scent.

Season:Autumn 20
Date Created:2020-08-07
Medium:Pastel on paper

How would you describe your work as an artist?

I regularly look to the past, following historical lines of enquiry in order to better understand or reframe the present. My work will often centre around the feminine experience, and explores the subtleties of what it is to be human: our subconscious connections to history, place, or each other. In regards to materials, I don't tie myself to one thing. I like to respond to an idea first and then intuitively I'll decide on a medium later. Sometimes photography, sculpture, drawing or a combination of all three.

How did you feel when Ffern approached you about responding to a fragrance?

I was excited. I think our sense of smell is perhaps the sense which we neglect the most. This felt like an opportunity for me to almost reconnect with smell, really give myself the time to think about scent in a way which I haven't done before, either in my work or personal life.

How did you approach the project?

It’s commonly known that when you lose one of your senses another will become heightened, so I started by closing my eyes and smelling the scent on my skin. A scent is constantly evolving, it’s always in a state of flux between being one thing and another, in this sense it’s never fixed. This prompted me to use chalk pastels for the images. Pastels are the same as scent in the way that they aren’t fixed, they are smudgy and elusive, you can’t have too much control when using them. That’s mainly what I'm attracted to about the medium.

Why did you decide to create a series of works, rather than a single piece?

I often create bodies of works. I'll think of a set of drawings or sculptures as a family. I like to facilitate interaction in this way; displaying multiple works together can create unexpected or unplanned dialogues. I approached this body of work using the same method. I wanted each drawing to speak of a certain moment in the evolution of the scent.

You live in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside, does the landscape surrounding you influence your work?

My surroundings massively influence my work. I’m fascinated by how our connections to environments contribute, explicitly or implicity, to who we are. I’m also interested, specifically, in the relationship women have to landscape within art. Historically, when female artists weren’t permitted to depict or study the nude, they had to instead focus on landscape painting - so female artists and outdoor spaces have always been closely linked in this way. Many of the artists who particularly inspire me are women whose work is strongly tied to place - Ithell Colquhoun and Hepworth, for example.

What does a usual day look like for you?

I don’t have a typical routine currently, although I am a creature of habit and some things do stick - the day always starts with Yorkshire tea and always ends with one, too. I work part-time in order to be able to support myself as an artist. Having a day job is important and also a reality for most artists. I enjoy the distance it brings between me and the work - time to work on something completely unrelated, something which uses an utterly different part of my brain.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on developing my academic and critical writing. In September I returned to study, working towards a MA in the Social History of Art. My hope is that, by studying and thinking about the frameworks and ideologies which underpin artistic creation, my own practice will develop and evolve in new ways.

What is the best advice you could pass on?

I’m very bad at taking my own advice so I feel slightly hypocritical giving it, but I think the best advice is always the same - do what makes you happy, often this is the key to success anyway. Do what makes you happy and always dress for the weather.


Lauren was the first artist to work with us on the Ffern Artists series. You can read about the others here.