This is the latest in a series of articles by the Cognite team on the things that inspire their creativity and love of science. The eclectic nature of Lauren’s choices highlights how we can find creative inspiration from a wide range of sources.
In general, I’m drawn to cerebral, surreal, quirky or visually interesting films; stories that first appear to be about nothing in particular but then leave you thinking for days. One film that I always come back to, mostly for its visuals, is Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth – a girl meets a faun and escapes the harsh reality of life during the Spanish Civil War. The film blurs the line between reality and fantasy, with fantastical costumes and mystical worlds viewed through the eyes of a little girl whose imagination can’t be beaten. It’s a sad film about beauty and innocence in the face of destruction, but it’s done so well you might not notice.
I love watching the plants in my garden and how they grow through the year. My favourite thing about plants is swapping and sharing cuttings. I have cuttings from plants that span generations of my family, sourced from aunts and cousins and grandparents. I give cuttings to my friends for birthdays, and they give cuttings to their families. When my grandad passed away, my mother kept a little potted tree that she’d managed to save from his garden. This is a living thing that my grandad cared for, and in that way, it maintains a connection with him. My plants connect me to those that gave them to me; they’re extensions of the people and relationships I value.
My musical tastes have changed over the years, influenced by the people in my life, but there are some artists to whom I always return. The most notable is Patrick Wolf, who’s been with me a very long time. His music is very personal; he writes about his experiences, hardships and joys. If life is this journey that we’re all on, he’s written my soundtrack. His first few albums were quirky and strange, like how it feels to be a teenager. His 20s were very sad but he would always work uplifting messages into his music. And in his 30s he finally found love and happiness and acceptance. He plays a wide range of instruments and has this huge booming voice, so to hear him belt out a happy song is a wonderful thing.
The abstract expressionists are my guys. I was painting from the moment I could hold a brush. My mum recalls me as a pre-schooler, painting three sticks with green blobs on the top and calling them trees, where the other kids were having a great time smearing the paint round and round into brown sludge with their hands. I painted and crafted all through school and by the time I got to college was interested in abstract expressionism. Howard Hodgkin is one of my favourites. Like his peers he used blocks of colour and simple shapes or marks to convey a sense of a time or place, a person, or memory.
Right now, I’m inspired by printmaking. When I say inspired, I mean obsessed. My work as a graphic designer has meant printing has always been a part of my life and job. Commercial printing is a very interesting process and it has been an absolute joy to go back through history and experience some of the processes, some of them utterly painstaking, that have led up to our modern techniques. In our fast-paced world, where you can have a pack of flyers turned around in 24hrs, it’s nice to look at print through an artistic lens once again, slow things down and appreciate the craft of this fantastic medium.