Laura Williams: Settle Petal

The work of Tāmaki Makaurau-based painter Laura Williams (b. 1965) draws strongly from Catholicism, classical mythology and art history. Depictions of recognisable figures and narratives such as the crucifixion of Jesus or Leda and the Swan are interspersed with more subtle references to the people and events that make up Williams’ own history. Williams brings a feminist lens to religious and historical narratives, often reimagining scenarios in which women are mistreated. 

Flowers are prominent symbols throughout Williams’ work, used as centrepieces in tableaus and still lifes, as well as in the intricate borders which frame these scenes. Flowers also appear on the wallpaper, furniture and artworks which populate Williams’ paintings. The artist embraces the conflicting interpretations of flowers in classical, Elizabethan, and Victorian literature, so that one bloom may convey a range of sentiments from devotion to disdain.

Williams’ exclusively floral works function as inter-series refreshers: “Between a series or after a large or challenging work, I often undertake what I refer to as a ‘palette cleanser’ or ‘amuse-bouche.’” Small to medium in scale, Williams’ ‘amuse-bouche’ paintings typically comprise colourful, fanciful and delightful arrangements of flowers. Devoid of figures or clear narratives, these works offer room for interpretation. 

This exhibition was made possible with the support of Laree Payne Gallery and Page Galleries. 

Image: Laura Williams, A Small Amuse Bouche I (2022). Image courtesy of the artist and Page Galleries.

09 December - 17 March 2024

Photos by Sam Hartnett 


Interview with Art Spiel