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Painter, Laura Green

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


'People who are interested in football are very rarely interested in art.'

Ever heard the term 'groundhopper'? A groundhopper is someone whose hobby - passion even - is to visit football grounds. Big ones, small ones. Old ones, new ones. Football grounds near to home, football grounds abroad. Almost any sort will do as long as it has an enclosed pitch and a set of goalposts.
Groundhoppers come in all types and ages, but there is one characteristic they all share. They are all, without exception, male.
Or at least they were until the recent emergence of a rather unusual 22 year old artist, Laura Green. Laura is so enamoured with football grounds that during her last four years' training at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, in England, she has painted little else.
'I am pretty fixated on football stadiums,' she freely admits at the opening of this year's Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition. The annual show, first staged in 1949 to offer a platform for emerging artists from British colleges, features seven of Laura's most recent paintings. Among them are striking, vibrant images of stands at British clubs such as Watford, Nottingham Forest and Villa Park, alongside more abstract general views of Wembley and Old Trafford. Always shown empty, the stands are depicted more as blocks or stripes of colour. Laura likens them to tribal flags, reflecting the fans' own allegiance to their team colours and home ground.
As you might imagine, at first not all her friends and tutors understood her choice of subject. 'It does take a bit of explaining, especially for a girl,' she says, somewhat superfluously. 'If I was a boy it would be more like painting cars, a boyish hobby. But as I'm a girl I think it makes people stop and ask themselves why I should want to do it, and so they then start to think more about the subject.'
Laura herself has been thinking of football and looking at stadiums ever since she attended her first Arsenal match at the age of seven. She's hardly missed a game since, regarding Highbury as her second home. Nor is she merely an observer. In her last season playing for her university women's team she notched up five goals.
'I know it's a huge generalisation but people who are interested in football are very rarely interested in art. So with my work I'm trying, consciously or sub-consciously, to bring the two together. It forces my friends to react to art. Because it's about football they're automatically interested.'
Whilst out at grounds, sketching and taking photos, Laura does get some funny looks though. At Old Trafford she wrapped herself in a huge sheet of transparent acetate. With a felt pen she then traced the outline of the stadium on the acetate, as if immersing herself in a giant fish-eye lens. The resultant smear of red, green and blue may not be immediately recognisable as Old Trafford. But it feels like Old Trafford.
Now that's she graduated, Laura refuses to stop. 'I'm aiming to paint as many stadiums as I can around the world. You can never say never, but the way I feel at the moment I can't see myself painting anything else.'


Simon Inglis, July 2001

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