Behind the print: "Flowers and the City" series

Laura Reiter’s joyful screenprints bring photographic elements and drawn marks together, sometimes adding other materials to create extra texture or contrast. Her latest series combines London architecture with botanical forms and vivid inks, reflecting how natural and urban settings often sit side by side in big cities.

Neon yellow and turquoise Tower Bridge London and flowers
"Flowers, the Bridge and the River", screenprint by Laura Reiter

How did this series of prints come about?

I’m always looking for subject matter that has some meaning for me. I like the idea of the contrast between man-made and natural forms, and I’ve used this in other ways in my paintings in the past. I want the images to reflect the nature of big cities and especially London, where I have lived for my whole life. You are surrounded by buildings, old and new, all alongside many beautiful natural spaces and parks. It feels like a way to combine my interest in architecture and my love of flowers without making the images too sentimental.

Orange and yellow St Paul's London and flowers screenprint
"Flowers and the City", screenprint by Laura Reiter

What is it about screen printing that you particularly enjoy?

I love screen printing. It is magic when the colour or mark appears on the screen. This is the quickest but the best part! It feels like painting with the screen.

Blue Oxo Tower London and flowers screenprint
"Oxo Tower and Flowers", screenprint by Laura Reiter

What was the process of making these prints?

I create both photographic and drawn images which I print on to acetate using Photoshop. Once the acetates are done, the screen is layered with light-sensitive emulsion and then exposed to UV light, which hardens the emulsion everywhere that there isn’t a drawn or photographic mark. The marks and images are left open, ready to pass ink through on to the paper with a squeegee.

Screenprint screen by Laura Reiter
One of Laura screens. The lighter areas, where the emulsion has not hardened under UV light, are open mesh
Screenprint screen proof black
A black and white printed proof of the screen above

These are bits of images which I can select from when composing. I don’t usually test images as such because I like the journey of the print, responding to each mark made – although I do have a good idea what might happen! I think this keeps the image freer and more expressive.

You use colour in a very joyful way. How do you choose your colours and combine them? Do

you have favourite colours or palettes that you return to?

Colour is my favourite aspect of all my art work. I love the way colours interact with each other, and I especially love pinks, blues and purples. Recently I have been playing with neon colours, which pop against more subdued colours. But I don’t think there’s a colour I wouldn’t use if it felt like the right one.

Turquoise and purple Tower of London with flowers screenprint
"Flowers and the Tower", screenprint by Laura Reiter

You often work in mixed media. What is it that you like about juxtaposing materials?

I love to change the surface in places or contrast, say, thin lines with big ‘blobs’ of colour. Printing and painting feels like a journey which doesn’t rule out any possibilities, although I try not to use a medium just for the sake of it. It needs to do a job. Making art is a mixture of instinct and conscious decisions – another contrast. I do a lot of ‘feeling’ and some thinking and I've always preferred to work in an organic way, responding to the last mark I’ve made.

Your work is inspired often by your travels. Have the lockdowns had an impact on your subject matter? Or have you worked from older photographs/memories? Has it changed your perception of your local surroundings from an artistic point of view?

Lockdown was a surprise. I found myself looking at trees and blossoms and natural surroundings in the many walks we all took. I took many photos and I was able to give myself permission to use them – something I hadn’t done for a a very long time. It also gave me much more time and I went back to working in a more abstract way, experimenting with materials and marks – ‘every cloud’ and all that!

Neon and purple abstract tea screenprint by Laura Reiter
"Stop Here for Tea", screenprint by Laura Reiter

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on more ‘Flowers and the …’ pieces. The latest one of these is “Stop Here for Tea”, using a more specific location. I’m thinking about using Tube stations, shops and bits of buildings. I like to push my ideas forward, to keep the work fresh.

Laura’s featured artist show runs in the Greenwich Printmakers gallery until July 18 and her vibrant prints are available here all year round. For more information, visit her artist’s page and her website.


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