Laura Matthews British, Australian, b. 1964-


Rivers, Roads and Relics


The Island of Tasmania, sitting south of the continent of Australia, is a time capsule of early settlement. It exists as a reminder of colonisation and industry, both in a positive and negative sense. It is a landscape that conjures up all that is “the sublime”. Cold winds and snow in winter, harsh dry summers and raging bush fires, have uniquely carved its mountain ranges, forests and settled districts.

In history, Tasmania has been maligned as a backwater by many who did not live there. Early in settlement, it was one of the most feared places on the planet—a prison at the end of the earth. Tasmania now sits on the world stage as an artistic bolt hole—curatorially ambitious—placed in an environment that both challenges and delights all who enter it. 

It is in this place that Laura Matthews has immersed herself—travelling, drawing and painting down the west coast and through the pastoral country of the earliest European-inhabited lands in Australia. The detritus of settlement remains. Laced with a history and a legacy of hope, success and failure—sweat, tears and indeed blood with the early nation builders—often encouraged at the end of a whip. This land speaks also of a dispossession of the Palawa people. Their mark is on this land forever, embedded in the rock engravings and a spirit that moves with the wind of the moorlands and the ancient forests. Their presence—real and ethereal—is a powerful mark of cultural resilience that is profound and omnipresent in Australian history. Theirs is a history always known to those who knew where to look, but, only now being understood by the broader community.

Tasmania is a landscape rich in rivers and lakes, shimmering in that particular southern light. Its brightness and intensity belies the popular perception of a place of clouds and rain. 

Laura Matthews has a very particular ability in paint—her training at the prestigious Slade School in London under the tutorage of the giants of British painting, such as William Coldstream, has afforded her an ability to render in paint, the truth of a place. The Slade School was a place where academic painting was celebrated, not derided. Her formalist training provides her with the complete visual language to articulate what her eye has observed, and her heart has felt, at the enormity of the view before her. 

The relics of human existence in this place tinge the exhibition with a sense of memento mori. Or, is it a nostalgia for us to celebrate? I rather feel that it is discussing the beauty inherent in all those things that are patinaed with time. In doing so, Matthews joins the artists who have worked and built the history and mythology of this island—at a time when it advances to the forefront of this country’s consciousness.


Ralph Hobbs
August, 2018



1987-1989: HDFA, Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London

1983-1987: BA (Hons) Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London

1989: Elected Freeman, Painters & Stainers Guild (London)



2017: Winner 1st Prize Regional artist award, Hunters Hill Art Prize

2017: Winner Peoples Choice Tattersall's Art Prize

2017: Finalist Manning Art Prize

2017: Finalist Paddington Art P{rize

2017: Finalist inaugural Ravenswood Art Prize

2017: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2016: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2015: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2014: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2013: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2012: Finalist Portia Geach Portrait Prize

2012: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2011: Finalist Tattersall's Art Prize

2011: Finalist Manning Regional Art Prize

2010: Finalist Paddington Art Prize

2010: Finalist Norvil Art Prize

2010: Finalist The John Glover Prize for Tasmanian Landscape

2009: Finalist The John Glover Prize for Tasmanian Landscape (Highly Commended)

2008: Finalist Kings School Art prize 2008: Finalist Portia Geach Memorial Award for Portraiture

2008: Finalist Kings School Parramatta Art Prize 2008: Finalist Norvil Art Prize, Salon

2006: Finalist Art on the Rocks, Sydney

2004: Finalist Paddington Art Prize, Sydney

2004: Finalist Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale for Landscape Painting

2004: Finalist Portia Geach Memorial Award for Portraiture


Australia - Solo

2018 "Rivers, Roads and Relics" Nanda\Hobbs, Sydney

2017 "Disparate measures" Anita Traynor Fine Art Melbourne

2017 "Inside Out "Studio Gallery Perth

2016: "Hiraeth" Nanda\Hobbs Contemporary, Sydney

2015: "Eye Witness" Pine St gallery Chippendale

2014: "Threshold" Art Equity ,Sydney

2013: Exhibition studio gallery Yallingup

2012: "10 paintings " Studio Gallery Yallingup WA

2012: "Ghosts " Gallery Aloft Sydney

2011: "Nature Built it  2First" Despard Gallery, Hoba

2011: “Life on Mars”, Astras Galleries, Gold Coast

2010: “What Lies Beneath” Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2009: “Diemens” Metro Gallery, Melbourne

2009 “Roar” Charles Hewitt Gallery, Sydney (Televised)

2008: “Devils Heart” Art Equity, Sydney

2007: “Vistas” Art Equity, Sydney

2007: Ross Hill Winery, Presented by BCFA, Orange

2006: "Breathe" Art Equity, Sydney

2005: "Sky Sweep City Scape" Art Equity, Sydney

2004: "Caught in the Eye" Art Equity, Sydney

2007: "Australia Day" Sydney Morning Herald Exhibition "Barbeque"

2007: "Sydney Art Fair" Group Corporate Art

2006: "Images of Little Bay" for Landcom

2005: "Affordable Art Fair" Sydney

2004: "1+2 Media" Dommayne Design Inaugural Exhibition Presented by BCFA

United Kingdom

2002: July move to Australia - 1+2 Artist Studios, Lilyfield, Sydney

2001: Mixed shows, Sheen Gallery, London

2001: Mixed shows, Sheen Gallery, London

2000: Five Painters, New Grafton Gallery, London

1999: Joint exhibition; The New Grafton Gallery, London

1999: Mixed show Quantum Contemporary Art, London

1999: Mixed show, Highgate Fine Art, Highgate, London

1999-2000: Works commissioned Royal Caribbean International Cruise liners

1998-1999: Works commissioned by Royal Caribbean International Cruise liners

1998: Guest exhibitor at the New English Arts Club, Pall Mall, London

1987: Abbott & Holder, London

1997: Collyer Bristow:"A Clear Picture "

1996: Slade Summer Exhibition, "Drawing a Survey"

1996: Slade Gallery, One Woman Show

1995: New Grafton Gallery Joint show, London

1994-1996: London Contemporary Art Fair

1993-1998: New Grafton Gallery (Mixed shows), London

1992: The Heffer's Gallery, Cambridge

1991: Austen Desmond "The Prose of Painting", London

1990: Bonham's' "New Generation", London



Works contained in Slade (UCL, London) Collection

Private collections in Europe, USA, Australia and Asia

Works collected and exhibited by Royal Caribbean Cruise Liners 1998-2001 Landcom Australia



2000-02: Lecturer in Drawing (Costume Design School of Art)

1999: Slade Affiliate Programme Tutor - Life Painting, Drawing

1998-99: Wimbledon School of Art -costume design, drawing tutor 0.5 lecturer Painting & Drawing tutor (course co-ordinator)

1997-89: Course tutor - Slade Life Drawing BA/MA students; Slade Affiliate Programme -

1997-98: Wimbledon School of Art Visiting lecturer (Life Drawing & studio visits)

1996: Painting & Drawing tutor B-Tec Foundation Course Painting & Drawing coordinator - Richmond Adult & Community college.

1994-98: Slade Summer School continuing to work on the Alternative Foundation course, course co-ordinator for specialist drawing courses i.e., "Drawing a Way of Thinking"

1990: Workshops(Barbican) based around the exhibition "A Singular Vision"

1990: Drawing & Painting workshops incorporating lectures on the work of Euan Uglow - Whitechapel Art Gallery London.



2009: Featured Artist, Cyclomedica Calendar 2010 Edition

2009: Featured Artist, “The Apprentice” Channel 9

2007: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia Day Edition

2006: Landcom “Little Bay” Promotional material, SMH (large advertisement)

1997: Cover Piece for The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. (Philip Larkin, Ed. OUP, 1997)