Saatchi Online Spotlight: SHOWDOWN Runner-Up Laurence Winram

"The Watchers" by Laurence Winram

Congratulations to SHOWDOWN’s runner-up, Laurence Winram, and his work “The Watchers”. Out of close to 5,000 entries, his artwork will be on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London. He will also receive US$500.

Please provide us with your current bio:

LW: I’m a photographer based in Edinburgh UK. I work in the commercial market but my real inspiration is my personal work. Born and raised in Aberdeen, I have lived and worked in Edinburgh ever since. While the demands of the commercial world don’t always allow the creative freedom I’d like, I do have some theatre clients that allow that freedom and are hugely enjoyable to work with. I’ve not paid great heed to the fashions in the art world and am comfortable with my own personal vision.

Tell us what inspired this piece you submitted for SHOWDOWN:

LW: It’s inspired by my fascination with ambiguity in artwork. “The Watchers” has a clear intent, but I have tried to leave enough space to let viewers choose their own narrative. Cindy Sherman’s Film Stills with their loaded imagery from imagined films have been a great influence on me as well as early European artists like Hieronymus Bosch.

Tell us about a typical day for you.

LW: If I’m working on a personal piece then I’m often trailing around vintage clothing stores in search of outfits, phoning models to confirm waist or hat sizes, fending off client emails, visiting galleries and virtual ones like Saatchi Online, but always with a sketch pad at hand for that last minute inspiration. At the development stage of an idea all my senses feel heightened and I don’t sleep, as my mind is full of ideas. I always tell myself to never stop the personal projects. Then of course life intervenes and it’s sometimes weeks before I enter that world again.

When did you know you were an artist?

LW: That’s like being asked when I realised I was a human. The artist is just a part of who you are it’s just a matter of choosing to let it out. I suppose I really began to let that side of myself seriously develop several years ago when I started on my Conemen project but I could argue that it was the artist in me that dammed up streams and made patterns in pine needles on the forest floor as a small child.

What kind of training did you receive? Are you self-taught or did you go to art school?

LW: My parents were a bit artistic but I perhaps inherited more of an independent view of the world from them. I feel I benefited from not being uncomfortable with having an unorthodox perspective.

I studied photography at Salisbury College of Art, graduating in 1992, which was quite a commercially-orientated place. That helped with learning the craft and finding work after, but in some ways I like that it was not a purely arts course as I see a lot of photography graduates that seem to be clones of one school or another and being more about what their lecturers wanted to create. These days I’m not sure that you can teach art to someone. You can create the right environment to allow it to flourish and develop but beyond that people should be allowed to find their own way.

What’s the best advice you were given? What advice would you give to other artists?

LW: The best advice I ever received was from a photographer I assisted once who told me, ‘just do it’ (this was pre-Nike ad!) All too often we create some reason for not doing what we know we can and should. Usually at the root of that is fear. That nagging self-doubt is so destructive and learning to acknowledge it and push it away has been very useful. I’m always trying to get that across to the students I get on work placement.

Saatchi Online is currently accepting new submissions for the next SHOWDOWN. Voting starts Feb. 9th. To enter your work into SHOWDOWN, go to http://saatchionline.com/showdown.

2 Comments

  1. Glenn Harcourt says:

    This is really a wonderful photo. It reminds me of some of the Parke-Harrison’s work; might also be read as a “naturalized version of the main “action” in Beckett’s “The Lost Ones.” Very well done! I’d put a print in my study.

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