We recently caught up with FAC Artist in Residence, Laura Mitchell to chat about her time in residence and what she’s been working on.

Hey Laura, can you tell us about your first memory involving art?

This may not be the first memory but it’s a formative one. I was in first grade and my teacher led an art session. It wasn’t highly structured like a lot of elementary school arts and crafts projects, where everyone produces more or less the same outcome. I remember writing a poem about the moon and painting an image illustrating it on the same page. My mother is a librarian, so stories, books and words were big in my childhood environment. This led to an interest in working as a designer and to this day a big feature in my art is text and type.

Your work is about obsolescence, predominantly places and things that people no longer use or need. You seem to have a particular focus on corner stores and deli, why is that? 

The Delis and Milk Bars are just a starting point, as they connect my fascination with the manipulation and seduction of brand identity with the cultural dislocation I felt as an American expatriate. To my surprise, I found research citing that certain Greek Americans migrated to Australia, bringing the American diner “brand” (concept and design) with them. It’s likely that I won’t focus on Delis forever, I may move into other aspects of the “desire to consume” – like social media or the rise and fall of malls and the shopping experience.

Laura Mitchell in her studio

Laura Mitchell in her studio

You previously worked in art direction across web design and e-business, how has that influenced your work as an artist?

I went into graphic design and art direction because I love fine art and needed to make a living! It’s not all evil, but it is a force that we can fall prey to, if we are not aware of its influence. I also find that I have a tendency to love artists who share my background with “type and image” art. Artists such as Edward Ruscha, Gerard Richter, Barbara Krueger, Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Rosalie Gascoigne, Sheppard Fairey, and many others. At the moment, I’m particularly interested with my deli paintings and in the flat stylisation and colour palettes of Howard Arkley’s work.

What’s next for you after your residence?

I’ll acquire a studio at Edith Cowan University where I’m conducting my PhD artwork and research/writing. I’ll need to be there at least three days a week as I’ve won a scholarship to fund the project for the next three years. I’m not sure how I’ll manage a “studio” space closer to home in Fremantle when I’m not in Mt. Lawley, maybe I’ll have to commandeer the back garden at our house or rent a studio somewhere in the area, I’m looking for options!

You can find out more about Laura on her website.