I grew up on a farm at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Co Down. I have a brother and sister. When we were little, Dad kept pedigree Charolais and then he started to move into Limousins.

The farming was a part-time thing but it was always very busy and Saturdays were the big farming day. But we all helped.

We were full time on that farm every day before school and after school; filling buckets, moving silage, dehorning calves, dosing and shifting. Half the time we fell asleep in the hay waiting for Dad to finish up. There’s nothing like being brought up on a farm.

Laura Freedman also sells homemade apple tarts to local customers. \ Claire Nash

I grew up and moved to Dublin, where I went to Trinity College and became a dentist. I met my husband in Dublin and I’ve lived here ever since, apart from a brief stint in London.

I haven’t been working as a dentist for a number of years. I stopped working when my kids came along. My little boy is six and my daughter is eight.

Cow fascination

Cows are by far my most favourite animals. I suppose it comes from Dad a little bit as he obviously has a huge love for these animals too. He knows every single cow that he has. To an outsider they all look exactly the same but he knows every single one by the difference in the toss of their head or a slightly different curving in their back.

He will put huge effort into almost taming every single one of them until he can walk up to them in the field and they’ll let him give them a little scratch. No matter how busy he was, he was able to stop and give those animals time.

I grew up watching the cows. They’re such beautiful, big animals and they’ve so many funny little traits and quirks. If you just kind of watch them; from the way that they just stand and stare as a group or how they stand for hours, just chewing.

We’ve been in this situation so many times where we’re trying to move cattle across a big field and one of them will kind of just sneak past you like a rebel and then the next thing you know they’re all sneaking past you. Then they are galloping up the field like a herd of wild beasts, tossing their heads up in the air. They’re very funny animals and they’re beautiful as well. If you actually look at their eyes - they’re gorgeous with their big long eyelashes.

A family affair

Mam was so crafty. When we were tiny – I remember we were only aged three or four – at the kitchen table and she would have us making all sorts of things. That was a lovely start to the art world. I’ve always had a passion for art but it got sidelined after school and university until I stopped working.

When the pandemic hit, I was sketching and drawing with the kids and I started to do more drawing and sketching than I’d ever done before.

A selection of cards designed by Laura Freedman. \ Claire Nash

With the general pandemic anxiety, being home with the kids, home schooling – and my husband was still always going out to work for the full day – I needed a bit of an outlet to preserve my mental health.

I moved into properly trying to create these little funny cow scenes and create their characters and personalities. I often did this with the kids. I needed a goal to keep the motivation up because I knew the drawing was good for me but I am quite goal-oriented. I knew it was going to slip if I didn’t have something to work towards, so I decided to turn them into cards.

The design process is a bit of a family affair. My kids are really artistic, the pair of them. They have been known to completely trump me. I’ll spend a week designing a card and trying to come up with something really funny and they’ll just scribble something down and hand it to me, and me and my husband will just say: “That’s epic.”

My husband himself comes from a very creative family, so he has a lovely respect for all different types of art and he has great humour as well. So really, sometimes it takes us all to come up with a funny little idea.

Cards inspired by cows

There are two little ranges I have so far. The first one was the Bad Cows. They came about by thinking: “There could be so much more going on behind a cow’s eyes than we ever know.” I suppose it was just an effort to try to tease that out and imagine all sorts of things that they were thinking.

Laura's spring series draws inspiration from the Mourne Mountains. \ Claire Nash

The spring series that I brought out were painted. I really wanted to do a painted selection of cards and just go mad with the colours. These present the cows in one of the most beautiful environments I know; the Mourne mountains. The mountains are a very particular colour, they come across as tall, blue and purple. These little cards, were [my interpretation of] the cows in this beautiful environment – with the sun shining and the rainbows. They are all these other memories from when I was growing up and I thought I’d put a little life lesson with them.

I wanted to try to get that across to people, that you could send someone a cheerful little message and show them that no matter what’s going on in life, beauty really is all around us, we just have to see it.

Find out more about Laura’s cards at www.gooseberryjam.ie

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