Lae Oldmeadow is an Australian visual artist, born in Queensland in 1956, whose name and creations have travelled beyond Australian cities to New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Switzerland. Over the years he has been portrayed as an "environmental" or "atavistic" art practitioner. Following a twenty-year career in inventive upholstery, he has developed a unique art practice that highlights the beauty and mystery of nature.
The organic materials he exclusively uses are fragments discarded or offered up by nature which he gathers on walks in the bush. In this way the creative process of a new work begins with a peaceful meditative stroll during which Lae selects leaves, pieces of bark, ochres, fibres, etc. These excursions stimulate his imagination, leading to the exciting conception of new creations. Back in his studio, he arranges and processes the collection as a response to the earlier walkabout experience and composes each art-piece in a highly meditative state of mind.
The artist's home and studio are surrounded by a natural sanctuary he designed himself by landscaping one hectare of hillside into a flourishing sustainable garden. Thus, he lives in symbiosis with nature, fostering oneness with the land. The abundance of life produced by and attracted to this terraced environment along with its situation within the greater, dramatically charged panoramic landscape, are the constantly self-renewing sources of this artist's inspiration.
How can we qualify Oldmeadow's art within a movement? This would pose challenges: mannerism, post-impressionism, expressionism, outsider art, etc. - none of these fully describe Lae's art practice, which is really informed by the artist's deep integrity and bond with nature. In the end, the description “atavistic, environmental art” seems to best reflect the essence of Lae's work, which pulses out a very strong tribal message and energy like a visual representation of prayer or contemplation. One recognises instantly the obsessive input into each of these masterpieces: the intent, sourcing, stitching and padding of the sculpted forms. Lae's creations can each represent up to four hundred hours of devotion, of deeply meditative processes leading to their extraordinarily refined quality of art. When, finally, the works are infused onto canvas, down to an essence of being, a deep remembrance resonates within the viewer of oscillations between the vegetal and animal. The reduction of form can lead one into a liminal state of imagining and being, something satisfyingly essential to who we are and how we are in the world.