Meet the Maker - Laurie Stansfield

Friday, March 27, 2015
Hello Everyone, we've had the pleasure of working with Laurie Stansfield from Drawn in Bristol on a series of new prints celebrating some of the unique plants found in Bristol's Avon Gorge. The Gorge is home to over 30 different kinds of rare plant – making it one of the most important botanical sites in the UK. Some species of tree, such as the Bristol Whitebeam, with its green and white leaves and clusters of orange berries, are found nowhere else in the world.

Laurie's new Bristol Botanical Safari prints aim to introduce four of these rare plants to a younger audience by creating a playful safari animal/plant hybrid. We are hoping to demonstrate that all plants and animals are important to our environment from the biggest animal to the tiniest plant and lots of species need our help to survive. No matter how small a plant or big an animal they exist in a delicate ecosystem that needs to be kept in balance for other species to flourish.

Our Bristol Whitebeam Elephant has magnificent ears inspired the Bristol whitebeam. This special tree is unique to the gorge and in early summer it produces clusters of creamy white, sweet scented flowers that are loved by bees. These are followed by speckled orange berries in the autumn that are soon devoured by birds.

Our Dwarf Sedge Monkey has a very rare tail and tufted hair do. The dwarf sedge is a rare- plant with tiny flowering spikes found on the impressive limestone cliffs of Bristol’s Avon Gorge. Larger trees and shrubs shade out and threaten smaller plants, like the dwarf sedge, growing beneath them so like the honewort they rely on the six Kashmir goats that have been introduced to act as a natural and sustainable means of controlling the growth of bramble and shrubs. So, just like a monkeys, the dwarf sedge gets a good groom to keep it healthy!
Our Honewort Giraffe spots a beautiful flowery coat made up of the delicate honewort blossom. The rare honewort plant is found growing amongst the rocks of the Avon Gorge and like carrots, parsley and celery it belongs to the umbellifer family as its flowers look like umbrellas. In the past it has suffered particularly badly from habitat loss due to larger scrub stealing the light and limited soil available but in the Avon Gorge a team of brave billy goats scramble up the steep sloped sides of the gorge eating the invasive shrubs that get too close to the honewort.

Finally making up our safari crew our Bristol Onion Lion has a magnificent purple Bristol onion mane. This lollipop-shaped flower is very special because it grows in the Avon Gorge and nowhere else in the UK. The Bristol onion is also called the rounded -headed leek and the gorge provides a sheltered microclimate of sun-baked nooks and crannies perfect for this happy plant. Its pinky purple flowers are smaller than a fifty pence piece and, just like a lion, it loves to sun itself on a sunny ledge but, just like the big cat, unfortunately there is a serious threat to its survival from bigger trees and shrubs. Help is at hand though - brave conservation workers (human and goat) scale the gorge’s cliffs to keep the invading plants in check.

We caught up with Laurie to find out more about her & how she likes to work....

Hi Laurie, please tell us a little bit about yourself....
Hello, Im Laurie Stansfield, a freelance illustrator with a studio space in BV Studios, Bedminster. I came to Bristol in 2006 to study UWEs art & design foundation course & continued onto an Illustration degree & achieved a first. I met Ben Goodman, who’s now a printmaker, in 2006 & we still make a brilliant team, setting goals & critiquing each others work.
Can you talk us through the process of creating a piece of of your work?
When I start a new piece of work I always begin with pencil, paper & a brief. I will have an image or style in mind, however, the final result is completely different. I enjoy the process of taking the project through a journey & developing it’s character. The process usually involves repetitive trial & error, while I translate the images into a necessary style. Then I manipulate what Ive created again for the colour artwork, sometimes using black ink or pencils, acrylic or gouache paints & a scanner, or a mix of everything! The style & materials are selected depending on what the image requires. I think of it like choosing clothes for specific occasions. With time & practice, I find that more & more, Im drawn towards the advantages of working digitally. Id like to say that my process & style are adaptive, it actually feels messy & sporadic! I refer to my work as a schizophrenic chameleon.
Im very visual & wonky minded, as people like to point out. My inspiration comes from visual ideas & metaphors that pop into my head. These ideas are actually less likely to visit when Im in my studio & more likely to say hello when Im going for a jog or working behind a bar. Im addicted to running & particularly like the route under BristolsSuspension Bridge, through the Avon Gorge. Its quiet & beautiful & stenches of fresh seasons. I try very hard to make time for it. I also find that Im happiest behind a bar (either side) for social reasons & to help pay the bills. Bristol has introduced me to so many amazing, talented & inspiring people who add richness to my life & work.
Please describe workspace?
My work space is great & I love it. I rent a space in BV Studios which is close to home. The best thing is the people who I share a room with as they are all phenomenal. We have good chats, share ideas & varied perspectives, we giggle & work hard. The walk down East street neighbourhood is particularly enjoyable, another source of inspiration. If I were to work from home, Id get lost between the boundaries of work & play, which can be hard to separate as it is. Having a studio space is priceless for me. (Although, if I could afford to expand my space, Id be living the dream.)
Which part of Bristol do you call home?
Bristol very quickly became my home. If you dont mind the hills, exploring it by bike is the best. Ive been living south of the river since 2nd year uni for the convenience of being close the Bower Ashton Campus. North street has transformed in this time, the area is very admirable, recognised for its creativity & local shops. The route that I run along has deepened my love for the area. The chocolate path, past Spike Island, past Bunker Bikes, across the iron bridge, past all the cyclists & dog walkers & under the suspension bridge, by the woods… I currently work at the Tobacco Factory cafe/bar with a great team of people, most of whom live locally- or even have spaces in BV Studios as well. It seems that Ive become a prapar' local. I really hope the path I run along doesnt become a bus route! I love the green spaces of Bristol.
The Bristol 2015 tagline is 'initforgood' - we'd like to know, what are you 'initfor'?
I suppose Im in this for life; drawing & making images as its what Im best at. I think its good to do what makes you happy, theres obviously a balance between selfishness & sustainability. My focus is to be a strong & happy person & working freelance provides me with challenges to build myself upon. It can be tough & I’m constantly developing both my business & illustration skills. Ive recently learnt how much other people actually gain insight from looking at my drawings, since doing more work as a live scribe. If I’m in this for life, then Ill aim to play my part & help others to do so too.
Thank you Laurie!

You can find Laurie's gorge-ous Bristol Botanical Safari prints in our new shop, Lab Shop, part of Bristol 2015 Lab. You can find the Lab, opened to celebrate Bristol's year as European Green Capital on Bordeaux Quay on Bristol's historic Harbourside. Enjoy....

Lab Shop
10 - 6 
Everyday in the school holidays 
Fri - Sun in term time

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