Search for courses or information

General news

UEL alumna Laura Iosifescu rises from humble roots in Romania to success in the UK art world

Fine Art alumna rose from poverty in Romania to open the first contemporary art gallery in Barking 

Laura Iosifescu is truly one of UEL’s inspirational students and a great example of courage, strength and endurance. 

Laura was born and raised in Romania during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Laura recalls a member of the Ceausescu administration hiding in the midst of her town to avoid prosecution.

She said, “My father made us hide in the basement for two days while groups of men searched the streets. I could hear gunshots all around me; this was the first time I felt complete fear. I was relieved when he was finally captured.”

Struck with poverty, lack of employment, and a shift in political leadership, Laura grew up very poor, with little access to books, TV or radio. This did not stop her from using her imagination. Using materials she found around the house she began to draw and paint, cultivating her skills with unusual tools which would later become a major part of her art form. Art became a way of releasing anxiety.

She said, “I was bullied a lot growing up because my family was poor. As a teenage I didn’t want to live anymore, but art saved me! I was able to express and explore my thoughts and emotions through art.”

Laura later went on to study at the Fine Art High School in Targoviste, Romania, where she learned the basics and was able to release her passion. At that time in Romania, art was not considered a real career path, especially for a women. Laura was concerned about the consequences if she could no longer paint or completely express herself. Wanting a new start, and a chance to regain her confidence, she left Romania for good and came to the UK.

She recalled, “One day I just decided to leave, I ran and never looked back. I didn’t understand the language and I was living on the streets, but I was free.” 

It took Laura a few years to settle into British life, but she persevered. She learned English and began teaching art to the elderly as a volunteer. In this role she made friends, who encouraged her to pursue higher education. She ultimately graduated from UEL with a bachelor's degree in fine arts.

She said, “Once I got into UEL, that’s when the magic happened, when my life truly changed. I was allowed to be myself and whatever crazy idea I had, I was encouraged by my tutors to go for it.” 

In 2016 Laura opened the first contemporary art gallery in Barking, Essex. The gallery was inaugurated by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Darren Rodwell, leader of the local council.

As an artist, Laura is best known for her ability to manipulate paint. Utilising self-designed machines and other unconventional techniques to help create her unique pieces. Her work has been displayed throughout the UK in New Orleans and Los Angeles in the USA. The majority of Laura’s work is now in private collections around the world, which makes her work a great investment.

She said, “As a creative person, being allowed to express myself was everything. I never imagined making money from art, but I have followed my dreams and I have done well. UEL helped me to build my confidence and for that I am forever grateful.”