Like many other artists, London-based Lauren Baker, leading ‘light artist’ and creator of spectacular large-scale public artworks, is having to adjust to life under lockdown, with events cancelled, collaborations made challenging and the day-to-day practicalities of an artist’s working method made difficult. So Arts & Collections asked Lauren Baker how the creative mind responds, both artistically and practically, to working during the coronavirus lockdown. (Header photo – credit Neil Collins)
Q. What’s your usual working process?
A. I’m a multidisciplinary artist – I use a plethora of materials to create, working in forms of sculpture, paintings and prints. My large scale sculptural installations are usually made from lights and mirrors.
Q. How has the current situation affected your working patterns? Are you working in isolation? Does this change your working process?
A. I try to create ‘super human conditions’ so that my creativity flows through the day. I aim to get into a ‘blue sky thinking’ kind of mind set where anything is possible, so I start my morning rituals…
Keeping my eyes closed to recall my dreams, bullet proof coffee, kundalini yoga, journalling + gratitude lists, a seven-minute breathing meditation.
I usually go to the studio 10.30-6.30pm Tuesday to Thursday to work my team, then I have a few days to myself which is crucial to give myself the gift of time and space to think and dream big.
These days however, I’m in the studio on my own as my team work remotely – it’s a huge space- 4500sq ft!
I’m mostly conceptualising and experimenting with new ideas and materials, while juggling commissions, proposals, and chatting to galleries, curators and collectors.
Now that I’m on my own, I keep telling myself I’m going to start abstract painting again, yet I’m also loving the slowness and I’m so busy with commissions and public art proposals, so honestly I’ve not started. I’ve been full power go-go-go for the whole nine years of my art career, so this corona cloud feels unusually special. I will start those new abstracts soon, when the pain of procrastination becomes too much to bear and the calling becomes intensely strong!!
Q. What are you working on at the moment?
A. I’m involved with multiple charity projects creating and donating art, for example my piece was the first to sell on an online auction in just seconds for the Art For Heroes campaign by Maddox Gallery supporting the NHS. Making a Choose Love neon for Help Refugees was an honour recently too. Right now, I’m transforming a Fender electric guitar into a playable artwork for The Big Issue to raise much needed funds. I work with MTArt Agency and Museum Week is approaching so it’s going to be a big month. My face is currently showing on huge billboards across Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, which is quite surreal! I’m grateful to be working with MTArt and Ocean Outdoor to harness the power of creativity to inspire during this time.
Q. How does the artist normally think of their work output? Is it a steady stream, a series of themes, or a cycle?
A. In terms of when I’m creating… its definitely a cycle. I’m used to the changing patterns. My main inspiration comes during and after travel adventures – interrupting the usual patterns and being immersed in nature and new cultures expands my mind. After a big solo show, I often travel spontaneously for a while. I love the freedom and excitement of getting a one-way ticket and following my intuition.
Q. What are your core themes of exploration?
A. In terms of my core theme, I’m obsessed with NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. I’ve always loved the inventor Nikola Tesla and I want to know the frequency of EVERYTHING!! For my latest large scale installations in the desert, I examined the frequency of the sun (126.6hz) and the moon (220.42Hz) as a starting point and let the ideas roll from there.
Along this line, I discovered that plants are vibrating at 24Hz which is within the field of human consciousness! This led to my installations Letter To Mother Earth at Tate, and An Open Dialogue With Nature. I love mixing physics, spirituality and nature. I launched a mission to plant 8,888 trees in the Amazon.
I also create poetic light-typography to express life mantras about positivity, connection, love and togetherness, passion and lust. I mix light, painting and diamond dust to create celestial energy chakra artworks. These works explore the depth of the human existence, spirituality and the chakras. For my Immensity of the Universe series, I exploded very old text books using real explosives from the film industry. The idea derived from the Big Bang and the intriguing beauty born from chaos and destruction.
Q. How much is your work normally influenced by current events? Does the current situation relate to the usual themes of your work?
A. I don’t switch my key themes to respond to what ever is trending in the press. My key theme of human connection, spirituality and positivity seem to strike a chord particularly in this time where people are seeking hope, unity and connection. My intention is that my art lifts people and raises the vibration of love in the world.
Q. In practical terms, is your work more difficult at the moment? Do you have problems, say, in obtaining materials?
A. Yes, it’s hard to get hold of some parts, some commissions are mid-progress while I await more materials. I’m really enjoying the time to think and consider my practice more.
Q. Where do you normally look for inspiration? Has this now changed?
A. I often get ideas pop in when I’m meditating. Usually feeling more inspired during ‘free’ time on adventures, when in nature, as when I’m reading books. Also when I’m cycling by the canal. Maintaining my rituals keeps me inspired. It’s when your mind is happily distracted in a flowing enjoyable activity, the creative juice flows and KAPOW!, an idea leaps out!
Q. With events and exhibitions being cancelled, possibly for months to come, how does the artist keep in touch with the outside world? Will the current enforced reliance on online communication mark a major shift in the way artists market themselves in the future?
A. Instagram is an incredible communication tool, especially for visual artists. I’m doing more videos and exploring IGTV. Ive just joined TikTok. Find me on most platforms at @laurenbakerart. I’m doing more video calls on Zoom. I’m feeling really connected! No doubt many will come out of this period with better communication and technology skills, being forced to connect in the virtual (yet very real) world.
Q. Do you think artistic response to the current situation should be immediate, or might a period of reflection be necessary?
A. Both. Artists are reflecting how they perceive the world. Some will have fast thoughts, creations and sharings, others will process over time. Some ideas and deep levels of understanding need time to incubate. We are in the middle of something huge. The end isn’t here yet. More ideas will evolve… it will be interesting to see how artists perceive this time; from the beginning flooded with fear, evolving to acceptance, growth and the conclusion – which we aren’t at yet, though it’s likely we will tell stories of love and hope and unity and beautiful things will come from the sadness!
Q. How do you continue to inspire yourself creatively, and in what direction do you see your work going in the future?
A. I love creating large-scale installations and works about energy and human consciousness. More public artworks are in the horizon. I am committed to my creativity inducing rituals. For others wanting to explore their own creativity, I suggest reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
Lauren Baker, born in Middlesborough in 1982, currently lives and works in London. A British contemporary multidisciplinary artist who exhibits internationally, her work explores human connection, metaphysics and the expansiveness of the universe. Signature neon works portray the power of energy through her poetic typographic and celestial chakra artworks. Passionate about environmental issues and sustainability, the artist uses light to express the ‘secrets of the universe’ and aims to raise the vibration of love and connection within the world.
See more of Lauren’s works at: