Knight, Dame Laura - Staithes
Type of Spiritual Experience
In 1894 Harold Knight and Laura Johnson visited Staithes, a fishing village on the Yorkshire coast, for a holiday and soon returned, accompanied by Sissie, her sister, to live and work there. In Staithes, Laura Johnson drew the people of the fishing village and the surrounding farms, showing the hardship and poverty of their lives. She made studies, paintings and watercolours, often painting in muted, shadowy tones. Lack of money for expensive materials meant she produced few oil paintings at this time. Local children would sit for her, for pennies, giving her the opportunity to develop her figure painting technique.
Less successful at this time were her landscape and thematic works. Although she painted on the moors, high inland from Staithes, she did not consider herself successful at resolving these studies into finished pieces. Ultimately it became clear very early on, that a subject or scene devoid of people had no real interest for her. Later she rather modestly recalled:
"Even though my studio was so often warmed by burning canvases and drawings I do not regret all the experimental work done and destroyed. Staithes was too big a subject for an immature student, but working there I developed a visual memory which has stood me in good stead ever since."
A description of the experience
Sowing Potatoes on a Windy Day