• Laura Williams

Laura Williams’ detailed paintings are inhabited by a cast of rambunctious and often scantily clad characters including figures displaced from Greek mythology and Catholic scripture.

Bordered by draped curtains, some works feel particularly reminiscent of those toy theatres that flourished in 19th-century England as a popular form of domestic entertainment. Made from paper and assembled at home, intimate performances were held for family and guests, sometimes accompanied with live music. While no musical score supplements these paintings, they are permeated by a chorus of art and literary references.

Players on Williams’ elaborate stages are set against backdrops of luxuriously decorated interiors featuring vintage inspired wallpapers and soft furnishings. Walls are adorned by miniature versions of famous paintings such as William Blake’s The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (1822); Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy (1770); and Domenichino and assistants’ Apollo Pursuing Daphne (1616-18). Also in pride of place are renderings of celebrated American ‘outsider artist’ Henry Darger (1892-1973), whose work was discovered by his landlord following his death; as well as nude figures amalgamated from vintage images from mid-century photographers Bob Mizer (1922 – 1992) and Bruce of Los Angeles (1909 – 1974) with classical paintings of martyred saints.

Laura Williams (b.1965, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland) majored in Sociology and has a career as a union organiser, a background that unsurprisingly sees her somewhat preoccupied with the particulars of human interaction. There is a joyful irreverence and sharp humour to her paintings, which are peppered with references to religion, art history, literature, pornography, design, and social theory. Often locating her figures within bucolic landscapes occupied by various flora and fauna, or within highly charged domestic interiors bursting with colour, patterned textiles and wallpapers, they appear surrounded by the detritus of daily life, frequently in various states of undress. Williams is a self-taught painter and has received several awards and residencies both in Aotearoa and overseas since firmly establishing her practice more than a decade ago.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday 10am-5pm
  • Saturday 10am-4pm


  • 42 Victoria Street
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, 6011