Laurence Crooks is an artist, printmaker, sailor, adventurer and Tanja Karl’s life partner. Born in Sydney, he relocated to Canada in the early 1970s and established an art gallery specialising in original serigraph prints.
‘When we met in 1989, he had already decided to return to Australia by sea,’ says Karl. ‘After a two-year restoration of a wooden boat, we set sail together. From the east coast of the US, we sailed through the Panama Canal via the Caribbean before venturing out across the Pacific Ocean. Our boat arrived in Australia in 1998, now a family of six and a dream realised.
‘Currently living on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Laurie’s contemplations shift between sailing the other half of the world or continuing to make art.’
The portrait was painted in one sitting, ‘after a morning chat that just never ended,’ says Karl. ‘He sat at my art table, keeping me company as he often does when I start a work. By late afternoon there was just this moment, which I asked him to hold. I started painting and it flowed as we continued to chat.’
Karl was born in Berlin in 1969. Her interest in art was stimulated by her grandmother who worked in theatre. In 1977, she migrated with her family to Canada. She attended the Ontario College of Art but the cost of materials forced her to switch to commercial art. A self-taught painter, she picked up the brush again ten years ago, juggling studio time with running a cafe.