Abstract art Painterly expression Vibrant colour
‘Kashmir left a huge impact on me, and I felt a calling to return and offer my humanitarian services as an art therapist. A lot of people with trauma can’t describe with words what they’ve been through, but they can express it through art.’Dena Lawrence
Artist and art therapist, Dena Lawrence creates vibrant rugs based on her own expressive paintings, having encountered weavers making fine silk rugs in Kashmir, which she first visited as a tourist in 2009. She returned there on several occasions over the next few years, to deliver an art therapy programme for those suffering from trauma as a result of decades of political upheaval and violence in the region.
Each design has its own individual narrative, many based on artworks or design objects from across the globe. So, for this ravishing retrospective we hand over to the rugs to do the talking.
The best master weavers in Srinagar now weave the pure silk rugs in her Firesun collection. The high-density knot count and vivid coloured silk make it possible to relay the essential essence of each painting, faithfully translating every minute detail, from bold brushstroke to chance paint droplet or splash. The energetic gestural artwork is thus transformed into a three-dimensional surface, capturing instantaneous energy in an object that can last for years, to be treasured by multiple generations. The literal translation from artwork to rug is accomplished using the carpet weaving language of symbols and song, Talim. She has also started working with weavers in Jaipur, Rajasthan and Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s Punjab province, to create the Watermoon collection of rugs. With a lower knot density, using wool and silk, this collection offers more subdued, calmer interpretations of her work, employing neutral, earthy colours to achieve a grounded energy. The Watermoon rugs sit more quietly and softly in modern interiors, but still deliver a good dose of creative expression.
Lawrence’s art takes inspiration from the landscape and wildflowers of her native Western Australia, mingling with her love of India and Kashmir and the vibrant colours found in those places. As a practicing art therapist and mental health nurse, Lawrence continues to channel her creative energy into new works on a daily basis. She has developed intuitive ways to create art that will work especially well as rugs—using repeating motifs and containing complex colour blends within frames—without losing any of the energetic abstract expressionism that characterises her original paintings. Showcasing at COVER Curates are four of her most vivid, free flowing artistic rugs from the Firesun collection and one from the Watermoon collection, along with a preview of three new designs currently on the loom.
‘India has played a big part in my work throughout my adult life. I feel very attuned to the cultures I’ve spent time with there—their deep connection to the land and the arts—and I’m drawn to the beautiful scenery, the colour and the chaos. People there wear an explosion of colour, in contrast to elsewhere in the world.’Dena Lawrence
Every Firesun collection rug uses between 22 and 40 colours, combining both symmetric and asymmetric knots to achieve the most faithful interpretation of each design, with 576 knots per square inch. The silk reflects the light in such a way that the rugs appear to take on different qualities that change depending on the time of day and season. A pure silk rug felt on the sole of a bare foot is the ultimate in tactile luxury.
Universe was a finalist in the prestigious Carpet Design Awards at Domotex in the Best Studio Artist Design category in 2021. It explores opposites within the psyche, presenting celestial nebula, planets and stars in reference of the high vibration of energetic being beyond the physical realm.
Creation contains subtle swirling vortexes and stems, suggestive of wild grasses and seed heads. Paint thrown and daubed in a free-flow state, acts as bridge between the spiritual and the physical.
Peppermint Blue celebrates wildflowers in the Australian bush and the discovery of unexpected beauty. Cool tranquil shades soothe the eye, calm the surroundings and bring emotional balance.
Geometric represents a spontaneous unfolding evocative of connection and community. A kaleidoscopic structure in bold citrus and black, is an investigation of the order to be found within the rhythm of existence.
From the Watermoon collection, Yellow Everlastings is evocative of the wildflowers that carpet the earth of Western Australia during spring. The pretty native daisy, ‘Everlasting’, is depicted in soft yellows and cool blues. Woven in pure silk, the flowers are raised above the background surface of abstract wool foliage.
Upcoming new launches include:
Jacaranda: Inspired by the tree which represents wisdom, rebirth, wealth and good luck. Its name stems from Guarani, a South American language, meaning ‘fragrant’ and in the Australian spring, its blossom covers sidewalks. Woven in Kashmir.
Evolution; With eye and spiral motifs, inspired by the work of Gustav Klimt, to conjure up a magical world. The eye represents knowledge, mysticism, wisdom and protection, while the spiral represents evolution and growth of the spirit: a symbol of change and development. Woven in Kashmir.
Golden Fields: A combination of structure and flow: greys contrast with orange, yellow and lime green, representing neutrality and balance combined with optimism, joy, warmth and freshness. Woven in Jaipur.
‘I practise what I teach in the art therapy process. I don’t start with any plan, other than a certain energy and a few colours. The image starts to tell me where to go. Sometimes it can get chaotic, other times it becomes something more pleasing that comes together as a rug design.’Dena Lawrence
Dena Lawrence has a vast portfolio of original designs to draw from for one-of-a-kind commissions and is open to creating bespoke designs in collaboration with those looking for a bold interior statement.
Phone: +0427 466 796