Lauren Montgomery (Monty) was selected for The Residency Project with Create or Die. The initiative supports artists across all platforms in the creation of new works, by providing a soulful space to create, access to facilities and opportunities to collaborate with fellow artists in various fields and mediums.
Monty’s beautiful energy and positive spirit emanates from her and fills the artist studios whilst she creates, it’s utterly palpable.
I’ve sat down with hundreds of artists, musicians, film-makers, performers, photographers, politicians, change-makers and even a miniature horse, and every now and again, a conversation takes place that truly impacts me, so much so that I have the urge to start writing out a manifesto mid-chat. My conversation with Monty, was one of those moments.
~ Deb Morgan ~
How would you describe your practice?
Throughout my former work, meditation was a really integral part of my arts practice and that’s where most of my inspiration came from, extreme doodling, I called it.
My new work however, is something that is so new to me, and honestly, it’s something I never thought I could do. It all started after a Visionary Art course I did, run by Adam Scott Miller. Now, my practice is more of a process in and of itself, which is such a metaphor for life! You go through stages of perfection and stages of chaos. There are stages when you are really happy with it, and then stages where you just have to bare with the chaos and trust that if you keep plugging away, it’s all going to come back to that level of perfection again – which is just like life, you go – “Oh no! It’s all fucked” …. “Wait. No, no, it’s alright” ……“Oh no! It’s all fucked!” *laughs*
What mediums do you work in?
Now, I work in all of them. Except for oil paint at this stage. This painting behind me, started in lead pencil and charcoal, then I sealed it and brought in colour with pencils and pastels, then sealed it again and now I’m using acrylic paints. I use spray-on workable fixative in between the layers. If I want to go from pastels to paint, I use a layer of liquitex, like a clear gloss.
Is that something that you used in your previous practice as well? No, I’d never heard of it before doing the course! I’d always been self taught, and I used to draw Anime when I was younger *Oh my god, i’m totally in love with you now!* ‘Cause that’s my passion, as you can see in my work, it has that Japanese influence, after drawing Anime I moved to my more extreme doodling style, which is a very fun, almost tattoo design style, and now I want to weave them both together. So that’s kind of where this new inspiration came from.
How did you first start & why?
“Arting?” I never stopped. I was the little girl who never stopped drawing and painting and doing whatever I could that was creative.
I went away from it for a while though, and then in 2012 I went to Nepal on a buying trip for the shop that I work in, and I met this girl, who I’m still very good friends with. She was living in Kathmandu being paid to stay there and paint one of her artworks on the side of this building as part of this amazing project. She’s the one actually, that really inspired me to go “nah, I can do this as more than just a hobby!” That was the point where I said to myself “maybe I don’t just want to be a hobby artist”, after everyone in my whole life telling me “you need to do something with your art” – It finally dawned on me that I did want to make something more of it.
When you say that you went away from it for a while, can you pinpoint why this happened?
Ah… coz I moved to Sydney and started working in call centres. *laughs* Yep…I stepped into another world and forgot who I was for a while.
So that was obviously for money / to survive?
Yep and then they just kept promoting me and then, all of a sudden, I was running a multi-million dollar company by the age of 24. And I suddenly went “Fuck! I don’t wanna do this!!”
So, you obviously went to the extreme of going “ok, cool I’m earning heaps of money, but not doing what I want to do with my life!” – what was the transition?
Well… I was also studying a diploma of energetic healing at the same time. Throughout that process, I got to a point where I just had this spiritual awakening and thought “what the hell am I doing here?!”
So I had a big melt down. I was living in Crows Nest paying $350 rent, had a brand new car that I was paying off…and…I quit my job and had no idea what I was going to do! And… it’s the best thing that I ever did.
When I quit my job, my intuition told me not to worry about it. That was in June of one year, and a voice inside me said “come Spring, you’re going to have the perfect job, it’s all going to be fine.”
I went in to visit a friend of mine who was working in a shop and I was just talking and said, “what am I going to do?! I just quit my job, it’s all fucked, I don’t know what I’m going to do!” She just calmly said “oh, you should ask for a job here.” It was perfect. And I started working there on the first day of spring.
What revives and refreshes your creative spirit?
Now? Doofing *laughs* and nature and music. I started doofing when I was 19, so 11 years ago, but the people I was doofing with were in it for all the wrong reasons, they just wanted to get trashed. So I enjoyed it, but again, I went away from it when I came to Sydney and was in a different world.
In 2014, I went overseas and did the dramatic thing of saying “I’m buying a one way ticket overseas, I’m selling all my stuff and said I’m never coming back!”.… And 6 months later I came home! *Laughs*
My best mate was going to Rainbow Serpent Festival at the start of last year and she bought me a ticket. So I went with her and that’s the first festival I had been to in 6 years and it was just like coming home. Then I helped out with the decor for Safari Festival last year and that’s where I met Jessie Ray and decided I wanted to do live art. And said “hey Jessieeee… can I be involved?” And she said “Fuck yeah!! Do it!” – And now I’ve worked at 8 festivals in the last year!
What is the reason you continue with your practice?
Because it keeps evolving.
Because it teaches me more about myself and my abilities and because I can see how through doing what I do, whether that’s my art or sharing my story, I can see that I’m inspiring other people to follow their dreams. I feel that the more people who follow their dreams, the more we are going to shift human consciousness, and this reality that we’ve created here is going to change. And that excites me.
What is the last dream you remember?
I had one the other night and all I remember is that there were no trees left and we we’re trying to have a campfire, so we had to find alternative means of creating a fire, because we had no wood to burn…. How’s that for prophetic. *laughs*
Do you have any rituals?
Many. I have a daily practice. So I get up at 5:30 or 6 o’clock every morning. I meditate for at least 20 minutes, then I journal at least an A4 page and do my oracle cards for the day. And then I either go to the bush and do interval training or yoga and strength building.
Every now and again I have other various rituals, like where I’ll do a burn, which is where you write out things you want to release and then put it in the fire! It feels really good to let it go and watch it disappear!
Where have your rituals come from? Your family? How have you been influenced?
A lot of them came from when I was studying energetic healing. I was always kind of open to stuff like this. My auntie, who unfortunately passed away when I was 15, was a big influence in that way on my Mum, so it was kind of this thing between the 3 of us. But I don’t know Mum…well they we’re just in this generation where they could see how the world was not meant to be this way and how everyone’s doing it wrong, but they didn’t have a new way of doing things, whereas we’re in this really beautiful time where we’ve got everything available to us, we can make those changes. So… I guess it kind of comes from my family, but then I started my studies and I’ve just always been around it. Like in the shop where I work now, we sell a lot of things to enable rituals and it’s definitely a passion of mine.
What are your other outlets?
Poi, which is a type of fire spinning. Silk belly dancing fans, it’s a fan with a trail of 1.5metres of silk. Spending time by myself, writing – I love writing, I’ve got a blog. I love taking photos. I love cooking. I love life!
What do you find is hardest thing about your practice?
Doing it. *laughs* Focus for me is a big one, I’m easily distracted! Finishing things! That’s why I think I got obsessed with this Mandala style, because it’s so immediate. Whereas something like this painting behind me is just like “Are you serious? I’m still working on this? I started this in February!” Self promotion is also really hard, getting myself out there and talking myself up…you know, all of those normal artist things!
What has been the most significant moment for you creatively so far?
Doing the art course at the start of the year. Which I totally manifested. I got crowdfunding to get me there. I really wanted to do this course, and I thought “I don’t have $1,000! How am I going to make this work?”
The idea of crowdfunding came to me in meditation and when I got home, my Mum said “Oh, you need to watch this documentary, these brothers from Byron Bay made a device for a bee hive, so you can get the honey out without disturbing the hive!” So I watched it, and the thing is, they did Crowdfunding to make it possible and raised 13.8 Million Dollars in a fortnight!
So, I made the website and did the write up, and I still felt a little unsure and weird about asking for the money, but I put it up anyway. So, something that’s really weird in my life is that I see triple numbers everywhere I go. I woke the morning after launching the campaign and I had a donation for $222 and I realised “Ok, this is what I’m meant to do!”
Where was the course?
The course was in Byron bay at a place called Paradise One, it’s so pretty. I met some amazing people. Adam the teacher is just amazing, even now I send him pictures of what I’m doing and ask for his help in techniques etc and he helps me.
The course was called Art is Magic. So we did things like create sigil – which is a symbol. We wrote a positive thing that we wanted to manifest and go through a process of elimination until you’ve only got one of each letter from that sentence and then you use those to create this symbol.
Actually that entire month was amazing for me, I finished on the 11th February, and then on 12th February, I went straight to Earth Frequency and exhibited, and Autumn Sky, who is my favourite artist in the whole world was there. During the week of that course it was my 30th birthday and so I started my 30th birthday dancing in the Harmonic Temple in Byron Bay listening to my favourite DJ and standing next to my favourite artist whilst she was painting and just thought “this year is going to be amazing!” – and amazing things keep happening.
What inspires you?
Nature, always. I have some really amazingly inspirational people surrounding me. A lot whom I’ve met through the the doof community. I’m inspired by seeing so many people waking up. I see it at work all the time, it’s really awesome. I call them hippie bogans. *laughs hysterically* The merging of these two worlds. This guy came in and goes, “Uh, hey yeah, I need to buy one of those.. Healing crystals.” So he gets this crystal, pays for it and then goes “So… What do I do with it??”
If money were no object, what would you do?
I would travel… anywhere I could. I would turn into a gypsy and travel and share my story with as many people who would listen and connect with all the amazing people that are living their dreams. And do more of what makes me happy – basically just more of what I’m doing now!
What do you see yourself doing, when you are say… 45?
What I just said. Travelling the world, doing art, sharing my story and hopefully inspiring other people to follow their dreams. I think that’s what I’m here to do, I think that’s why my soul signed up for this whole physical reality thing again. *laughs* Even though sometimes, I’m like “um, why did I say yes to this!?”
What are you currently working on / what’s coming up for you?
I am currently working on the beginnings of an oracle card deck, which are the pieces I’m working on in the residency project are a part of.
I’m also writing a book. eeep! What’s the book about??? Life, the universe and everything. It’s about basically saying fuck you to how we have always done life and doing more of what makes you happy. I mean there’s a million books on the same thing, but it’s just my perspective. So it’s about finding what your passion is in life and doing that every day. The more people that do that, the more society has to change to allow us to do that more.
We went off on a tangent about the book – The Alchemist and living your dream…
You know, so many people say to me “how did you do that, how did you just quit your job like that!?” about when I was working in corporate-land. The thing is, it got to the point where staying in that job and situation was harder than not knowing where the money was going to come from. I still go through that all the time of course, like at the moment I know that everything I’m doing is leading to financial security and abundance, I have no idea how exactly it will pan out, but I just have to trust and keep going. And the more I do that, the more amazing opportunities come my way – like with Create or Die! We just don’t understand our own power, the power which we all have. Because we’ve had a society telling us how to do things a certain way “you need to go to work in a job you don’t like, to earn the money, to buy the all the shit you don’t fucking need”… and it makes me so angry!
What does “Create or Die” mean to you?
We are creators and our bodies create. Without creation, we would die in the most literal terms. We are taking oxygen and turning that into energy, we consume and turn it into energy; that to me is a form of creation. It’s just the way of the world, it’s just the way of the universe. The universe creates energy. I would like to see someone be alive and not create. I haven’t seen it yet!
What’s your philosophy on art?
I’ll actually quote a lady that I encountered when I was doing a creative online journaling course. “It’s like the language of your soul burst into physical reality.” She was talking about my art and it made me cry.
Art for me is bringing the unseen into the seen. I feel so honoured to consider myself an artist and be able to do this kind of work. I think there’s so many people in the world who are looking for this energy and the reason art has had an explosion lately, is for that very reason; it’s bringing that energy of human expansion, raising vibration or whatever you want to call it, and allowing people who don’t necessarily know how to connect with it, to connect to it instantly, which is really beautiful.
But I also believe that everyone is an artist in their own way. Whether they realise it or not… which is another book I want to write. But it will be really silly and playful!
How are you finding The Residency Project
I’m really enjoying it. What I’m getting most out of it actually, is the whole journey. Because for me, I have an hour and a half to get here, so that time is giving me more time to spend on the things that matter to me, so journalling and focussing on what I want to create in my life. Having a space to come, where this is what I’m doing, that is dedicated to my practice and that’s what I do here – it’s so valuable. I’m actually abolishing the word ‘work’ because the world is taking itself way too seriously. It needs to just stop. *laughs*
Keep your eyes peeled and ears to the ground for Lauren Montgomery, she’ll be showcasing her art as part of The Residency Project in September 2016 – more details to come.
– CONVERSATION WITH DEB MORGAN // PHOTO’S BY ASH ZOMBOLA FOR CREATE OR DIE –