TALENTED artist Laura Doherty has left her mark on her ‘old school’ by creating huge colourful murals to enhance learning.
Five classrooms at Haslingden High School in Lancashire have been transformed by the 19-year-old and she is currently working on a corridor.
Laura left school last year after gaining her A levels and has returned as the school’s official ‘artist in residence’.
She is working part-time while completing her foundation degree at Blackburn College in preparation for a painting degree in September at a London art College.
In her GCSE year, History teacher Mandy Pollard asked Laura to liven up her classroom. Henry VIII and all his wives, a First World War battle scene, Nazi propaganda and even Hitler now adorn the walls.
She has been painting since she was eight and is now inspiring younger students who stop to chat to her while she paints the school walls.
“This is my dream,” said Laura. “There is so much in school that I can paint. The teachers give me a vague idea of what they want and I then go away and draw up some plans.”
“In one of the English rooms the teacher wanted me to draw a tree with books hanging from the branches.
“In the English block I have painted two classrooms; one is in a Victorian-style with mock paintings of literary figures, like Dracula, Miss Havisham and Harry Potter, that look like they are hung on the outside of the cupboard doors.
“In another I have painted a scene in Shakespeare’s The Globe and then some of his characters are on the cupboard doors.
“On the art corridor the teacher wanted the history of art, but rather than do a timeline, I decided to pick out work from different periods starting with cavemen. When the art is finished I will be painting the rest of the corridor with music.
“Teachers are asking me all the time to paint in their classroom and I help out as much as I can because I really enjoyed my time at Haslingden and I respect them for having the confidence in me.”
History teacher Mrs Pollard said: “My walls were a complete blank canvas until Laura took up her brush, and the challenge, to fill them with characters from our history lessons.
“It was always clear she is extremely gifted and it was a delight to see her creative inspirations take form on the walls of my room. She has certainly made my classroom a delight to teach in – she has a very bright future ahead of her.”
Her talents have not gone unnoticed outside of school – in nearby Pearson’s Café she was asked to paint monochrome scenes of Helmshore in the toilets and she has also been commissioned by Saville Row tailor and star of BBC2’s The Great British Sewing Bee Patrick Grant to paint the Blackburn’s history.
One of her paintings won a Young Artist competition at Blackburn Museum and the £100 prize money has gone into her savings for London.
Miannah Rouine, 12, said the paintings in the English room were really good.
“I like art, but I am not very good at it,” she said. “Her work is amazing and it makes you want to learn.”
Laura’s parents, Nicola and Gavin, have moved to Dorset with her brother and sisters and so she is living with her grandmother Brenda Doherty in Rawtenstall.
“Near her cottage there is a garage colony and I have one of the garages as my office and studio and I spend a lot of time there painting,” said Laura.
“I have been looking at art colleges in London, in Westminster, Wimbledon, Camberwell and Chelsea. I want to go to an art college to study a painting degree not to a university that has an art department.”
To contact Laura check out her Facebook page Laura Doherty Artwork.
Photographs by Liz Henson Photography