Laila Dempster passed away in her sleep in at her home in Indonesia on 19 March. At one time she was a member of the Central London Group. In memory of her 40 days passing, Diane Wildsmith, who now lives in Cilandak, Indonesia, has put out a condolence PDF with tributes and memories from Laila’s friends, many of whom sat for her or commissioned her to paint them or their children.
Download the “Book of Remembrances”DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE
The following is an extract from a blog, dated September 2016, from: http://meetandfunky.blogspot.com/2016/09/laila-airlie-dempster.html
Laila, could you tell us a little about the first years of your life and when you discovered your creative talents?
I was born into a diplomatic family with a long artistic tradition. My first art studies were made in Barcelona, Spain, with the great Spanish master Alfredo Sisquella the original Barcelona group of artists including Picasso who was the most famous member. He used to enjoy drawing and I would play games around the art of painting to distract me so off guard, I absorbed from the Old Master the basic techniques of my early days. At age 11, a student at the British Council in Singapore, my drawings of life were nearly as developed as today, and at 17, I went to St. Martin’s School of Art in London. At 18, I began to receive portrait commissions and at 23 I attended the Byam Shaw School of Art in London.
How did you settle here in Indonesia?
I came to Indonesia in 1971 to a large international congress of a worldwide spiritual movement called Subud, which is very new in the world, and its founder is a Javanese Semarang. It is not a religion or science or something like that we have ever known or heard of; It is something you receive and feel very clearly in yourself and therefore has no racial or religious denomination. It is unique to each individual, so that all races, religions, etc. can be together and worship as one … a humanity before God.
You are recognized for your work as a portrait artist, could you tell us a little of your work?
I mainly work as a portrait artist worldwide, although now, established since 1971 in Jakarta, my work beside the portraits also express my love for Indonesia, its people, its traditions and landscapes. When in England, I had an exhibition at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, and now my work, after many trips, is to be found in the collections, some important, around the world. Currently I’m working on a project for a large exhibition of new work in central Java.