I can’t believe that it has been two months since I posted! It’s been such a hectic time and I have been sending my prints to exhibitions all over the country but right now the big event is North Yorkshire Open Studios. Today was the first day and I had a lovely time but more about that in a minute. First I want to say that, despite being ridiculously busy, I made myself take time off for a couple of weeks at the end of May and combined a visit to my Mum in Cornwall with the opportunity to have a holiday with my boyfriend, Brian, and his dog Harry. We spent the first week running the northern part of the coast path from Bude to Land’s End. 140miles in 7 days and a lot of upping and downing! Well, we ran the downhill bits and the ‘alongs’ but walked the ‘ups’ due to carrying backpacks with our camping gear in and it was a holiday after all! It was a fabulous week. The hard winter has meant that everything is flowering at the same time so we ran through seas of bluebells, thrift, primroses, foxgloves, sea squill, red campion, sea campion and orchids. It was so beautiful. We followed that with a lovely relaxing week with Mum in Penzance. The result is that I feel recharged, inspired, fitter and ready to face the next lot of exhibitions 🙂
During our visit, Open Studios Cornwall was taking place and it couldn’t have been better timed because it gave me plenty of food for thought for my participation in North Yorkshire Open Studios. I also come away with studio envy!
The first batch of artists that we visited were in Penzance at Trewidden Studios. It was a very rainy day so we ducked from studio to studio but we were still able to admire the wonderful setting of Trewidden Garden where former stable blocks house the artists’ studios. I was so pleased to finally meet Peter Wray and Judy Collins. They used to be based in Yorkshire and I often have students on my collagraph courses that have been taught by Peter. His methods are very different from mine, being sculptural and abstract, and I love the fact that our work exemplifies just how diverse a medium collagraph is! The image below is a print by Peter called ‘At The Edge’ (please see St.Ives Society of Artists for more of his work). He and Judy teach courses at Hand Print Studio.
There were lots of artists at Trewidden but particular highlights for me were the very original abstract sculpture pieces by Susanna Bauer who uses natural objects combined with crochet, weaving and stitching. This is called ‘Trans-Plant No.3’. I’d liked to have had a chat with her but she’d nipped out when we were there.
I also really liked the work of Jane Ansell, who does interesting collaborative pieces, projects and mixed media artworks, and the painter Mark Spray.
In contrast to the rather wet but wonderful afternoon at Trewidden, our next Open Studios visits took place on a beautiful sunny day in Lamorna. I had no idea what I was going to see but Mum assured me that there was a wealth of talent hidden away in that neck of the woods. With an open mind and a spirit of adventure we headed up a sunny farm track….
…and discovered the first treat of the day, Peter Perry. Some of his larger oil on canvas landscapes were almost abstract and really atmospheric.
Whilst we were admiring his work, Harry played in the log pile! Dogs seemed to be very welcome at all the studios that we visited although he narrowly missed a cat attack at textile artist, Sue Marshall’s house!
We then strolled down the hill to the stunning house and studios at The Spinney where Baz Mehew, Stephane Rouget, Louise Thompson, Sarah Adie and Maureen Kennedy had their stone pieces, ceramics and paintings. Baz, Stephane and Sarah had a selection of stone carvings on display, some of which had shamanic and totemic influences. I had a lovely chat with Louise about her ceramic work and her recent foray into painting. She was very modest about her paintings and saw them as a starting point needing further development but displayed alongside her ceramic vessels, you could see the connection between the two methods of working and they complimented her three dimensional work beautifully, making the land and seascape influences more apparent.
The next stop on our tour was to Stephanie Cunningham. She is a ceramicist who makes stoneware sculptures based on animal and bird forms. Visiting her required an idyllic stroll through her garden past her raised beds full of vegetables and fruit, her cat sleeping in the sun and her inquisitive collie dog. We found her sitting in her little studio at the end amongst her sculptures and maquettes.
I love this piece called ‘Dog in the Wind’! Stephanie and I chatted about our experience of working alone tucked away in our studios and how important it is to network with other artists for support and to share ideas.
I think it is interesting the contrast between the two days of visits with the first being to a group of many artists in a studio complex and the other being artists working within their houses or in studios/sheds/summer houses in their gardens. I like to work alone and require solitude to enable me to become absorbed in my printmaking and to create meaningful work but I do miss the social interaction that comes from going out to work. North Yorkshire Open Studios is a great opportunity to share what I do and to meet the people that enjoy my work. Having been on both sides of the Open Studios experience, I recognise what a great idea it is! Not just the artwork itself but the objects, furnishings and collections that exist in each artist’s studio spaces offer a glimpse into the mindset and creative world of that artist. I took photos of my studio just before I opened for the first day of NYOS’13. Here is one with my press and a few of my treasures in the background. The reindeer antler is a gift from a good friend who was working down in South Georgia for a couple years. I find it impossible to be in the countryside and not come home with some pebble, bone, feather or stick!
Generally for most of the year artists are hidden away in their studios and the galleries do the work of selling what they create so it isn’t very often that you get to meet the people that like and buy your work except maybe at previews. For me, previews and private views tend to be highly strung events where conversation is snatched and it is difficult to have a thoughtful discussion. It is good to have the time to chat about my ideas and to explain how I create my prints. Printmaking can be such a mysterious thing to a lot of people and many have no idea what a collagraph is or how it is made and I love the fascination that my visitors have with the printing plates and press.
The above photo is of my living room which has become the monochrome gallery showing work from my residencies at Nidderdale Museum and in Sweden plus my ceramic pieces.
Open Studios isn’t every artist’s cup of tea. I know some that baulk at the idea of letting strangers into their private world and it does require a fair amount of trust and confidence but, despite needing solitude, I’m also a gregarious person so having two weekends of the year when I do nothing but meet people and to talk about what I love doing is brilliant and always leaves me on a bit of a ‘high’, although a bit exhausted!
All sorts of people come to visit, friends, complete strangers, collectors, people who are just intrigued or happen to be passing, printmaking enthusiasts, students, people that are doing an Open Studio tour (and I happen to be on their route) and those that have travelled many miles just to see me. Last year a group of elderly local ladies visited me and told me tales of when they’d been friends with the previous occupant of the house forty years ago and they were delighted to have a good look around and find out what ‘that lady at No.3’ does all day 🙂
The event is brilliantly organised by Art Connections and they’ve been doing a great job of publicising it and enabling people to discover over 100 professional artists across North Yorkshire. They sum it up beautifully on their website –
“A free event that combines culture, breathtaking views and a chance to hone your navigation skills. From the remote hills of the upper Dales across the Vale of York to the North York Moors and the Yorkshire coast, a wide range of painters, printmakers, jewellery-makers, sculptors, potters, textiles artists, photographers and other visual art professionals will be inviting members of the public to see new work in the making and discover how this diverse range of artists create their work”
So if you fancy a look, I’ll be open again on 9th, 15th & 16th June from 10.30am to 5.30pm. You could combine visiting me with a trip to ArtisOn which is the fab art centre just outside of Masham where I teach printmaking workshops. They are hosting four artists during the weekend, Josie Beszant, Ian Scott Massie, Rosie Scott Massie and Charlotte Morrison and just down the road from me at the Stables, Old Sleningford, Mickley, are Anna Poulton and Stuart Whitehead, whose work definitely shouldn’t be missed. You can get the details from the NYOS website http://www.nyos.org.uk/
Your thoughts on studio space at home or in a collective organisation are interesting given I have just left one for the other….I do miss the daily interaction with my fellow artists.
I often think I might like to have studio space where other artists work but then I wonder how realistic I’m being because I do find it hard to get absorbed into what I’m doing if other people are about and I often work late into the night so being at home is very practical. My residency in Sweden highlighted how I need a private space for certain aspects of my work but it also showed me how rewarding it is to work alongside other artists. I wonder if a bit of both could be possible?!