HomeArticlesArts & CultureRelocated Creative – Make Yourself At Home
Laurie Oxenford. Image credit: @kirstyrlee

Laurie Oxenford. Image credit: Kristy Lee @kirstyrlee

Relocated Creative – Make Yourself At Home

Kate Veling | October 2020

As an emerging artist and producer who recently made the Gold Coast home, Laurie Oxenford reckons it’s one of the greatest places to be a creative practitioner.

“I love the flexibility, challenges and diversity in my creative career,” she reflects. “I love working with other artists and creatives, I love spending time in my studio getting my hands dirty and I love approaching projects that challenge my expectations or the boundaries of my practice. Especially during times like these I’m grateful to still be working and doing something I’m deeply passionate about.”

It’s been a little over a year since Laurie moved here to establish her arts career and pursue a passion for public art. She relocated from Toowoomba where she had recently completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Arts) at the University of Southern Queensland and finished a  curatorial internship at a local studio.

The catalyst for the location change was Laurie’s successful application to the Professional Attachment Program run by The Arts and Culture team at Gold Coast City Council. She was placed with Art-Work Agency – a multidisciplinary creative agency working within the fields of branding, photography, art and design.

In this role she assisted in the project management and delivery of four major public art projects as a part of Water Walls 2019 – an urban art project to transform the City’s utilitarian sewer pump stations by inviting local artists to paint murals on the walls.

The attachment went so well, Laurie was offered an ongoing position at Art-Work as their marketing coordinator and content producer.

“When City of GC approached us to host a public art professional attachment, little did we know that our participant would go on to become such a huge part of the AW team,” says the agency. “Laurie stepped in and stepped up from Day 1, gelling with the whole crew and bringing a youthful professionalism to our team.”

The feeling is mutual, and Laurie feels lucky to count her colleagues as mentors as well as friends. This creative community has been central to her artistic development.

‘They’ve become like my family on the Gold Coast,’ said Laurie. ‘We spend a lot of time together at work talking about our ideas and creativity. I think, in a lot of ways, it has helped me to connect my practice and ideas to a professional setting – enabling me to have some sort of financial support for the work I am doing and the work I am interested in.”

Laurie’s own art practice is based in sculpture. She uses recycled industrial materials to create minimalist installations, combining a range of contemporary techniques including painting, assemblage and deconstruction, and altering found functional objects like road signs, tools or plastic sheeting.

“My work is not emotional or self-expressive but driven by a deep interest in materials and how they’re used,” she says of her approach. “I don’t really use traditional art making processes and I rarely plan works far in advance. I prefer to let found objects, chance and instinct drive my outcomes. I also consider how context establishes new dialogues between artworks, space and viewers, which has led me to a passion for public art and exhibiting work in non-traditional spaces.”

One of those non-traditional spaces is Burleigh Brewing Company where Laurie won Brewing Local Artists Judges Choice Award in November 2019, which included a cash prize and a residency at the Burleigh Taphouse. “The Brewery was quite an alternative place to create,” Laurie says of the experience. “I really enjoyed the install and seeing my work framed differently. It’s always awesome to see local businesses providing a platform for emerging artists and nurturing a creative community.”

In February this year Laurie had her fourth solo exhibition at The Third Quarter Gallery in Brisbane and was a recipient of an Arts Queensland Individuals Grant to undertake a series of professional mentorships to learn more about delivering large-scale mural festival models and public art project management.

Laurie was also the recipient USQ Bellmaine French Appreciation Travelling Scholarship and had planned to travel to France this year to participate in curatorial placements and creative residencies. Disappointingly, a global pandemic has put those plans on hold for now, but once international travel is on the cards again, she has that to look forward to.

For now, Laurie intends to immerse herself in the arts and creative community on the Gold Coast, with plans to deliver a mural festival.

“I really hope to continue developing my own artistic practice as well as my curatorial practice,” said Laurie, “and to grow in the public art world as well. This includes producing and facilitating public art projects, as well as one day making one myself. That space is very important to me and I think accessible art is the future.”

The City’s investment in arts and culture is reaping rewards. We’re becoming a place where artists, performers and arts industry workers are excited to call home and a destination cultural tourists are keen to explore. The Gold Coast is gaining a reputation for being a creative city.

To support the development of creative practitioners and arts workers on the Gold Coast, the City offers motivated individuals the opportunity to undertake a broad range of professional development activity accelerating their career opportunities. Visit our website to find out more.

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