The last time I wrote I was in Sweden which now seems like years ago! My main reason for not writing is that I’ve had a hugely busy year which was largely disrupted (in a good way!) by moving house and studio. After a few years of a travelling between Settle and Masham each weekend, my partner and I took the plunge and bought a house together in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. He moved in at Easter and I spent a month making the transition from my little rented cottage in Masham to our equally lovely new place. As a fellrunner this move is exciting (Horton is the starting point for the Yorkshire Three Peaks race and is surrounded by gorgeous fells) but as an artist, the fact that the house has a studio at the bottom of the garden and I can finally ‘go out to work’, it is even more so! I’m very attached to Masham, the place, the community and my friends there but I’ll be maintaining strong links with the Masham Gallery, who have championed my printmaking for 18 years, and ArtisOn Ltd who have been employing me to deliver printmaking workshops for the last three years. We’re already working on next year’s programme!
The move was pretty stressful and labour intensive mainly because I had various exhibition commitments that required me to be able to work right up to the last minute but looking back on it, it went surprisingly smoothly and I’m now settled in to my new studio and making lots of work. I’ve also got Harry the collie as a companion in the daytime!
Here are a few pictures that tell the story:
My Masham studio before I packed up…
and looking rather forlorn after I’d packed and been around with the filler and paint!
My lovely new workplace down the end of the garden
Before I turned it into a print studio…
and afterwards. I’ve since put up some prints and it gets cosier and more ‘arty’ every week. I’ve been talking to an electrician about getting a proper mains electricity supply to it (it is just on extension cables at the moment) and soon I’ll be able to plug things in and flick a switch for my daylight strip to come on so that I can work throughout winter. I’ll be making some heat shields so that I can use the stove and also putting in a small heater that will work on a thermostat so that it never goes below freezing (we’re quite high up here and snow is a regular occurrence in the winter).
I really enjoy working in there and am finding ways to make efficient use of the space. In my old house I used to stretch my prints on the back of the kitchen and pantry doors but now I have a selection of boards that I store in my plan chest for that purpose. I’m also adapting the paper soaking system that I used in Sweden as I am no longer able to soak my paper in the bath tub and transport it safely to the studio. I’ve found that I can spray the paper outside (or in the greenhouse in bad weather) and then stack it in polythene to keep it damp so that I have a supply on hand that just needs blotting when I’m ready to print.
After years of living on my own I’ve realised that I’m a bit of a workaholic but also a great procrastinator so I ended up making jobs last longer than I needed to, never really switching off unless I was out of the house and I regularly worked into the small hours. Now I am making far better use of my time and am limiting my evening and weekend work so that I at least have an hour or so to relax most days (although, artists never switch off, I’m always mulling over ideas!).
We live down a little lane that leads to fields and the Ribble so I can swim in the river and run in the hills straight from my house. The countryside is really wonderful and there are so many different species of bird. It is a constant source of inspiration. I love having a studio that is separate from the house and when I head down to it, it feels like I really mean business. I’m also enjoying the cups of tea that get brought out to me in the evening and have learned to ignore Harry barking at the logpile for me to throw sticks. He’s learning to get used to me disappearing out there and I’m getting used to rescuing his ball from the drain or pond so that he can carry on playing by himself until it is time for us to go out together. He still drops the occasional ball at my feet when I’m printing though 🙂
Sounds brilliant Hester – congratulations on the move which certainly looks like it is in the right direction.