Lauren O'Connor: Walk In Her Wardrobe
As avid consumers of culture, our muses span a range of industries and professions. Today, we meet with Sydney-based artist Lauren O’Connor, whose painted works are awash in colour and abstraction. Exploring nature, place and femininity, she’s a multi-talented creative with a penchant for vintage style and pared-back, but put-together looks. Let’s get familiar; prepare the cosy oversize sweater, comfortable wide leg pants and all-important protective smock.
On ‘Lauren O’Connor’:
I’m interested in making abstract work from a uniquely Australian and feminine perspective. My star sign is moody, gentle Cancer, and yes, the rumours are true – I’m a homebody and love collecting things.
I split my time between working at a café in Annandale, painting or pottering around in my studio or thrifting for vintage clothes and homewares. My boyfriend will tell you I’m pretty much constantly on the go – even when I should be chilling out, I’ll be crocheting, researching art or working on my latest textile project.
On practising art:
I started making art when I was little; it came very naturally to me, and I was encouraged by my family, who value hands-on-skills and craftsmanship. My overarching philosophy, I suppose, is that I believe everyone is creative and that by engaging with your own creativity – whether it’s through visual arts, music, cooking, gardening, film making, photography (the list goes on) – you discover important and resilient parts of yourself. I’ve always treasured creativity in myself and others; I think it makes you stronger. Conversations I've had with other artists about painting and creativity are always precious moments.
I studied at National Art School, Darlinghurst, graduating in 2020, and held my first solo show with Arthouse Gallery last June. I’m in an emerging stage in my career, so every show, every authentic and cohesive work I make feels like a huge victory!
I prefer to use plywood as a painting surface, with spray paint and acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is fast drying and versatile which allows me to apply many layers onto the painting quickly.
On personal style and ‘you’ looks:
I adore vintage and second-hand fashion – my wardrobe is full of classic pieces that I’ve found at op shops, finding unique pieces to mix and match feels new and fresh. I loathe fast fashion and find the whole activewear trend kind of boring.
My style is a bit mismatched – imagine if your nana wore a lot of black, chunky shoes and workwear. Right now, I’m wearing a lot of knitwear, wide leg trousers, big coats, silver accessories, silk camis and low-rise skirts. I love Vivienne Westwood, 90s Calvin Klein, 90s Ann Demeulemeester and Issey Miyake.
On her daily looks:
When I’m in the studio, I typically wear Crocs, a hoodie and my Hard Yakka overalls. I’m a messy painter and have ruined many clothes this way (I wish my studio outfits were more glam haha). If I’m out running errands, I wear my Birkenstock clogs with bright socks, a crochet mini bag, the Blake Skirt and a baggy jumper. If the vibe is more dressy – say it’s an art opening or dinner – I’d wear platform slides, my favourite kitsch jumper by Melbourne brand WAH WAH x Kaylene Whiskey, a silk slip and the Carmen Coat over the top.
On high repeat items:
My silver rings and hoops go everywhere with me – I feel naked without them. My Ganni boots are getting a lot of wear this winter. I’m loving this vintage skirt with little roses on it that I bought at Greenhouse Studios market. Plus anything crocheted!
On her creative and living spaces:
The most important aspect of a studio is the light, which was challenging at this property because there wasn’t a lot of natural light, but we got permission to put in a skylight which has changed things dramatically, as you can see! Some positives about the space are this ornamental maple tree and the lawn, where I can lounge in the sun and look up at the clouds.
I curate my living space with my precious art books, my art collection, ceramics, indoor plants and textiles that are all constant references for my paintings. So far, I’ve collected works from Sydney artists Mungo Howard, Tango Conway and Shireen Taweel – and these bird paintings by Indigenous artist Jeffrey Lewis.
On finding inspiration:
I always come back to nature. When my partner and I need to reconnect, we find the best way is to walk in nature. We often head up to the Blue Mountains or do the Spit to Manly walk. I'm also revisiting Alfred Hitchcock movies at the moment – they have a really amazing quality to them because they were shot on film - To Catch a Thief anyone?
On switching off essentials:
- Herbal tea
- Listen to music - I'm loving Kate Bush, Bjork, Mazzy Star and Kali Uchis at the moment
- Dark chocolate
- Turning my phone off
On our weekend plans:
I'd start the day off with a Scando breakfast at Cornersmith Cafe – they do amazing coffee and simple, enjoyable food. Then we'd head to the Yiribana Gallery at Sydney Moderns to gawk at some Hermannsburg pots, followed by an afternoon walk in the Botanical Gardens. We'd have dinner at Kujira in Ashfield, which does amazing ramen, then head for a martini at Ante in Newtown or a natty wine at Where's Nick.
On not-to-be-missed up-and-coming artists:
- Anna Mould
- Amelia Lynch
- Clementine McIntosh
- Ellen Wickens
- Kansas Smeaton
- Kayleigh Heydon
- Tango Conway
Lauren wears: Clementine Knit in Navy, Connie Knit Shirt in Brown.