Laura Hudson Passing Through          David Downing

The Plough Arts Centre, 17 - 28th June 2014

What is strikingly apparent from even a first glance at Laura Hudson’s paintings is their vibrancy of colour and palpable sense of energy. Their palette seems drawn from the natural world yet radiates with a bright dream-like vitality and the boldness of primary experience. There is an immediacy to these works that invites us to identify with them as landscapes though any attempt to orientate ourselves within the familiar is confounded by the manipulation of shape, form and perspective. This distortion of physical space only adds to the dimensional intensity: these are clearly landscapes transformed.

The intrinsic sense of energised movement and fluidity within the paintings presents us with a feeling of journeying through these half-familiar places, permitting us a mere glimpse of something essentially transient and constantly evolving, animate with the tangible changes of light. But there also emerges a more fundamental and profound sense in which they are rich with the wisdom of the past, the sureness of the cycle of the seasons. The landscapes seem deep-rooted within their own evolutionary histories and the vast multidimensional forces of geological time, all encapsulated in the present of the painting. Yet they don’t petrify: stillness, where it exists, feels poised between the last topographic groundswell and the next violent surge of tectonic motion. Here then is time condensed into a single moment, full of the intensity of this eternal now and the keenness of the new.

However, there is a further complex dynamic in play here, formed from subjective selection. The landscapes themselves are evident with the impact of human intrusion but the brief suggestion of human presence is insubstantial, mere hint and shadow. The artist, as maker of these works, has chosen her emphases and reinterpretations from her own engagements with the landscape, to create paintings seen through the lens of the accumulated conscious and subconscious of individualised perception and memory. Yet we, as viewer, further contribute our own personalised translation and distortion when we, in turn, seek to reinterpret them through the filter of our own ways of seeing. In so doing we enter into a dialogue, not only with the painting but with the artist herself, and her works manifest themselves as a collective representation of the landscapes of the mind.

By engaging fully with Laura Hudson’s paintings they begin to reveal themselves as microcosms of place and memory, landscapes of history and perception, alive with the energy of light and space and thought. They encapsulate an entirety of time and feeling in an artistic moment to become both eternally relevant and intensely beautiful.


David Downing lives amongst the 3 billion year old rocks and deep sea lochs of the northwest Highlands of Scotland where, amongst other things, he writes.