Laura Copsey

Recent graduate, University for the Creative Arts, Ravensbourne University. Former recent graduate of Royal College of Art (2018).

Laura Copsey

Chemigram magic map

Time- specific illustration: Using light to reflect on what can landscapes teach us (a new participatory documentary approach)


This presentation will provide an overview of Laura Copsey's recent practice based research that forms the basis of her current phd proposal - Time specific illustration: What can landscapes teach us about ourselves? This is a new methodology for 'time specific' illustration via an experimental and collaborative approach to site-specific, documentary illustration.

The proposed methodology is participatory undertaken with a closed group through repeat field trips to a heritage location. The intention is to use expanded drawing methods to respond to traces of heritage within the landscape to uncover personal and collective stories; prompted by reflection, self learning and collective experience. As stories, the histories we tell ourselves or the memories we recall in the moment, may have relevance to our present realities and when analysed can have potential to shed light on our underlying feelings or socio-political concerns. In this way the project intends to call on Laura's background as a therapist.

Experiences (conscious or unconscious) will be documented via technologies borrowed from early photography - Cameraless photography is literally ‘drawing with light’ and serves as a particularly interesting tool kit for exploring time. The resulting images will be created by mark marking onto photo-sensitive paper using the light of the immediate moment. The resulting drawings become a document and literal, physical container for time. Approaches such as photograms, chemigrams, and phytograms can be made on site using drawing materials sustainably foraged on location to make photographic developers (ie. Using seaweed, seabuckthorn etc.) and tools for drawing can also be scavenged, all enhancing the poetics of place.


Laura Copsey is an experimental illustrator, originally from East Anglia, now living and working in London. Laura's practice is interdisciplinary and collaborative, blurring with her background as a therapist, educator and musician. She works with objects, moving image, sound and expanded methods of drawing (cameraless photography) to explore traces of human endeavour from history, within site specific locations, traditional trades or within archive collections.

Laura looks at the grey area between what is real and imagined, to expose underlying contemporary concerns or socio-political anxieties. Her work is time based, participatory and process led, where fragments accumulate over time via situations, conversations and experiences.

Laura also organises art residencies and research expeditions with Sail Britain and plays in a band Firestations signed to Lost Map Records. She has been offered a place for practice based phd research at Kingston University from 2021. (funding permitting)