In recent years Anita Laurence’s richly coloured paintings and prints have become celebrated for the way they capture and reflect not only the landscapes of the King Valley region, but its cultural heritage and the changing lifestyles of its inhabitants.
Anita’s artworks express the landscape in the form of horizontal bands graduating up from the fish-filled King River, to farmlands and the forested hills and mountains beyond. Her paintings and prints are unique for the way in which they recognise distinctive natural and human-made forms of the King Valley landscape and translate these into an iconographic alphabet. She explains, all are elements ‘glimpsed and remembered.’
Aside from reflecting the changing seasons, in Anita’s works we see also the agricultural history of the King Valley, from turn of the century farmhouses flanked by water-tanks on stands, to old orchards, and later tobacco kilns. New elements include the occasional vineyard and hay-sheds stacked with round bails.
Locals have embraced Anita’s paintings, finding in them the landscape motifs with which they are so familiar, whether it’s the old flourmill at Milawa, recognisable groups of trees, or the distinctive forms of Mount Cobbler, Mount Buffalo and the Black Range, dusted with snow. Her works also inspire people to look at what’s around them with fresh eyes. ‘The best thing is when people see what I see in the landscape. People who drive through the King Valley on their way to work everyday tend to stop looking. These pictures make people take in what’s around them.’
Clearly Anita has a heartfelt relationship with the landscapes of the King Valley, one that is borne out in her artworks. ‘I love North East Victoria. I have a connection with it; a deep, internal “knowing” of the place.’ It’s a landscape that she remains passionate about: ‘There’s so much in this landscape: the seasons, the days, the elements. But really, painting it is a way of me exploring and putting down colours and textures.’