The former head of collections at IMMA, Catherine Marshall, has written of Lawler's work that it is pervaded by unease. "It hangs like microscopic atoms of pollution in the air, lingers around multiple 'blind' windows, seeks to find a foothold under the high rises, only to collapse into the hollow grid-like like spaces that should be their foundations, and attempts to settle on ground that is subtly curved, billowing or cratered." The work is marked by "strange blooms of faded colour, dusty pinks, yellows and greens that glow uncertainly against almost monochrome ground colours, surprised occasionally by more accentuated patchworks that remind one simultaneously of Colin Middleton and of illustrated children's books."
Yet Marshall also maintains that Lawler's incredibly subtle treatment of colour, texture and scale, "make her work a celebration of everything that is good in painting. The work is uplifting because it is always uplifting to find artists with the courage to address difficult issues. When they do it so subtly and effortlessly, we all benefit. The last words in relation to Lawler's painting are a repetition of those attributed to the great German Modernist Mies Van Der Rohe on good architecture: 'less is more'."

Gillian Lawler is an Irish artist, based in Dublin. She graduated with a BA in Fine Art Painting from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, in 2000, and has since had 17 solo exhibitions in Ireland, the UK, Croatia, Poland, Spain, Holland, Italy and the US.

She has won numerous awards, including the Hennessy Craig Scholarship and the Whytes Award at the RHA Annual Exhibition in 2007 and the Open Selection Exhibition Award at the Éigse Arts Festival in 2009. Other awards include an Arts Council Bursary Award (2022, 2020, 2009), Kildare Arts Services Award (2015, 2013, 2011, 2009), Culture Ireland grants (2021, 2018, 2017, 2011) and an invited studio residency at the RHA Gallery in 2009. She was shortlisted for the Beers Lambert Contemporary, Thames and Hudson publication, 100 Painters of Tomorrow in 2013, the Celeste International Art Prize in 2012 and won a Merit prize from the Golden Fleece Award in 2013. She also won the Graphic Studio Dublin Print Award in 2019 and the Parenting Residency Award at the Cow House Studios in 2022.

She is co-founder and a member of the artist group, Difference Engine, along with Mark Cullen, Jessica Foley, Wendy Judge and featuring Gordon Cheung. The group stages evolving serial exhibitions and is a model of autonomous artist curation. Each ‘manifestation’ of Difference Engine is based on an ongoing collaboration, a kind of ‘jamming’, between the artists. The results yield engaging experimental exhibitions, combining installation, video, painting, sculpture and writing.