Creating Consciously: Orla Lawn
Meet Liverpool-based artist Orla Lawn, whose stunning signature material, Spelk, was developed after years spent experimenting with materials such as concrete, wood, silk, foam and even chocolate. Equally delicious, although slightly more practical, we asked Orla to create some sculptures for Browns Brook Street, entwining our Conscious focus with the breathtaking design of our new forever home.
Hey Orla! Can you tell us about the work you’ve created for Browns Brook Street?
Hello! Using my signature surface material, Spelk, I’ve created a collection of plinths to sit amongst the Focus Room display. Spelk is made using Oriented Strand Board (a bit like chipboard), which I transform through a handcrafted finishing process. It’s soft and smooth to the touch but with a rough and splintered appearance.
Can you tell us a little more about your processes and your sustainable production methods?
OSB is a material that is commonly used in a very disposable manner. By using it as a base for my hand-applied finish, which takes many hours of careful work, I can give it both a second life and a cherishable quality, the very opposite of disposable. I use reclaimed OSB panels and elevate them by applying colours with non-toxic topcoats to make Spelk.
Why are these important to you and how did you develop your techniques?
I try to create work that people can find beautiful, clever and a bit tongue-in-cheek. I want people to be intrigued by how a piece is made and to reconsider the materials around them. Appreciating and engaging with the material and craftsmanship of an object can help us fight our culture of waste.
What were some things you had to consider when creating the work?
The idea was to create almost marble-like blocks, but using this modern engineered material, to mirror the traditional ornate architecture of Browns Brook Street combined with its cutting-edge design. The custom Spelk colourways reflect the store’s high impact palette, with contrasting tones accentuating the wild pattern of the wood’s natural grain.
What was your route into your current practice?
I began by studying Architecture at university in Dublin, before moving to London and pursuing a degree in Textiles at Central Saint Martins. I was trying to figure out where my work belonged as I loved working with materials and space. I specialised in Weave and learnt so much about the interaction of colour and the technical structures of materials.
I then went on to the Royal College of Art where I earned a Master’s Degree in Mixed Media Textile Design. I developed Spelk as part of my Graduate Collection and haven’t stopped making it since then.
Can you name any mentors or inspirations? (These can be in the arts or sustainability realm.)
I’m so inspired by the work of designers who are real material innovators. I’m obsessed with Hot Wire Extensions and their transformation of waste material into furniture and lighting. Fernando Laposse is a great example of innovation in sustainable design that benefits both the environment as well as local communities and cultures. Granby Workshop here in Liverpool are also great at combining a message of material sustainability with a commitment to the local community and environment.
What would be your dream project for the future?
I’d love to do some massive big beautiful wall of Spelk. I’m just waiting for someone to come along with the right wall!
Lastly, what’s on your Browns Wishlist?
Visit Orla’s work at Browns Brook Street from 10th June - 19th July 2021.
Discover more about our Boutiques here.
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