Dena Lawrence makes rugs which aren’t just coverings for the floor – they’re true works of art, as Gail Williams discovers.
Warning: walk into Dena Lawrence’s home, where she displays her beautiful silk hand woven rugs and you might just find yourself rolling all over them in a shameless display of comfort-seeking behaviour.
At the most acceptable level of decorum – especially if your favourite Netflix hero has just come to a sticky end or you have lost your Wordle streak – you might just stroke one of Lawrence’s designs in the form
a blue, pink and mauve splash of soothing colour, courtesy of her artistic therapy talents.
It’s a bit like stroking a cat. And you walk away feeling better about yourself and thinking one of the rugs would be your best friend if you installed it in your lounge room. Lawrence’s rugs are for people who don’t want a beige mix-and-match approach to decorating. They are for people who want to curl up with a mate at night while they binge-watch. A mate who makes them feel good and doesn’t mind if they spill ice cream all over them.
“I do become attached to my rugs,” says Lawrence. “Just sitting on them makes you relax. I find myself doing that a lot. Do you know that wearing silk actually lowers your blood pressure? You do form an intimate connection with a rug.”
Lawrence’s rugs are a labour of love which extends all the way to Kashmir, the north Indian region which is where she spent a lot of her time living and working. She also has a considerable artistic talent which – in a stroke of technological genius and intricate procedure – she has been able to transfer onto her rugs which are hand-woven in Kashsmir and shipped to Western Australia, where they have pride of place in Heather Levi Interiors’ store on Hay Street.
Lawrence has a 25-year legacy of working in the mental health field and is a registered art psychotherapist who uses art to help patients through conflicts and relationship issues.
“Making art can be a safe way to represent our inner experiences and can enable easy exploration of the underlying dynamics,” she says.
It was through her regular travels to Kashmir, where – back in 2013 – she worked with university students teaching art therapy and came across a group of weavers which she befriended and helped with their careers. Soon afterwards, she found herself involved in the business which involved transferring her intuitive paintings onto a software app and then being handwoven into rugs.
“It has taken a while to get established,” says Lawrence. “The rugs are 100-percent silk and take about six to nine months from design to shipping.”
When she contacted Cecil Levi at Heather Levi interiors, he was immediately blown away with her distinctive work which features abstract designs of the wildflowers and red dirt of her childhood, growing up in Morawa.
The works also showcase seascapes and the dazzling colours of India or anything illustrating the emotional journey she happens to be going on when she splashes acrylic over canvas.
Her advice to anyone choosing a rug is to go for colour – bright reds and oranges or greens, mauves and blues: anything but beige.
“I am all about colour,” she says.
“You are better off choosing a rug and then adapting the décor to that. If you are feeling like you need soothing, go for anything blue-related, which is like the sky and the ocean, with a lot of depth. That’s soothing. Yellows and reds are more resonant whereas green is for rejuvenation and regrowth, new beginnings.”