“It is not quite the Art Schools at Bradfield with its vast windows and river running through but it is just as inspiring and idyllic a working space”, says the 25 year old who knows a thing or two about the art world’s most arresting settings. A far cry from the Berkshire countryside, Lara learned her craft surrounded by Renaissance Art in Florence and the spectacular architecture of Barcelona.
“I am so lucky with how my life turned out. Leaving school and deciding you want to go into the art world is terrifying but having the opportunity to train in those two cities was incredible”, says the Old Bradfieldian. Still wearing her apron from a morning’s graft and surrounded by brushes, palettes and multiple paintings at various stages of completion, Lara speaks about her time at Bradfield with fondness, crediting it as the place where her passion for art truly began.
“I loved being in the Art Schools and I certainly received a well-rounded education. The teachers helped me not only to find a passion for painting, but pushed all the pupils outside their comfort zones and to think more conceptually.”
Inspired as a youngster by her Grandpa, an architect with a passion for painting, Lara spent days out learning how to use watercolours and paint the natural surroundings. Her parents encouraged her to apply for Bradfield’s Art Scholarship when they saw one of these paintings and there is no doubt that she made the most of Bradfield’s creative and academic offering. She achieved equally high grades in her other A Level studies in Drama, Philosophy and Ethics and Business Studies, all of which gave her the life skills and thought-provoking creativity to enter into an art career.
Leaving Bradfield gave Lara her first taste of living abroad. A gap year included a ski season in Switzerland, climbing Kilimanjaro, working in schools in Tanzania and building on her Bradfieldian friendships travelling with her peers around India, South East Asia and Fiji. It was a time to experience things outside of Lara’s comfort zone.
“Living abroad you have to be open-minded so living a little bit independently at boarding school helped me to feel comfortable trying new things and being decisive when opportunities arose.”
Following a Foundation course at Oxford Brookes University the aspiring artist found herself at a crossroads for what to do next as she felt uninspired by the art courses in England.
“As an artist there is always an emphasis on working independently but I still felt the urge to keep learning. I have found that the more I learn the more new avenues to discover arise and at that point I was not ready to stop exploring.”
A chance conversation with portrait artist Nicky Philipps, who has painted The Queen among other members of the Royal Family, confirmed that studying abroad was the right thing to do. “She encouraged me to consider Florence, a place where I could learn how to paint with realism. I looked around some of the top Art Schools and instantly fell in love with the place.”