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Somerset arts week - Art for Everyone

PUBLISHED: 13:23 26 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:46 20 February 2013

Somerset arts week - Art for Everyone

Somerset arts week - Art for Everyone

Over 300 local artists and makers will be showcasing their work in about 200 venues during this year's Somerset Art Weeks. Taking place between 18 September and 3 October, the event will focus on individual artists and creative processes.

*Shepton Mallet based artist Jo Lucksted produces figurative ceramic sculptures reflecting themes of religious and mythological influences. She has also recently ventured into working with textiles, producing wall hangings and cushions that tap into current interior design trends.

Can you describe your technique?

I hand build using mainly white earthenware, and use my own moulds for some of the figures. These are used just to get the basic form, which I clean up and smooth over as much as possible (using old credit cards!) before each one is finished so that its own personality comes through. Faces and decorations are incised with a knife and other mark making tools. I like the figures to look worn and handled so I wet sand them to create a smooth, tactile surface.

Ive recently started using a black stoneware clay, which I cover with enough white slip to still allow some of the black to come through. Im becoming more interested in experimenting with surface decoration and enjoy using underglazes, stains and slips in combination with paper resist techniques to produce stylised graphics and decoration.

When did you first realise you were an artist?

From an early age I can remember enjoying making and creating, whether it was knitting, drawing or making jewellery. After leaving school I worked for a sculptor and as a silversmiths assistant, and later as a tutor for childrens art workshops. Throughout this time I worked in a variety of media for my own pleasure, although clay has always been where my primary interest lay. Being creative has never been something that I have had to think about or consciously acknowledge, its just what makes me happy and stops me from going a bit wobbly! But I suppose its only recently, since taking on a studio space and not returning to work after having my baby, making the commitment to concentrate solely on my art that I feel I can call myself a proper artist.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I studied 3.D Art for A level at the Blue School, Wells, which was great as it allowed me to experiment with a variety of media such as wire, chalk, alabaster and plaster as well as ceramics both throwing and hand-building. After this I came out of formal education but continued to study in evening classes in silversmithing and pottery. I eventually went on to do Foundation at Strode College, Street as a mature student, staying on there to study Advanced Ceramics.

Obviously, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from studying within a formal environment, but hands on experience and experimentation over the past 25 years have been equally valuable.

What inspires you?

Living in Somerset has definitely been an inspiration-my main body of work (that is to say the figures of angels, kings and queens) was directly inspired by the sculptures in Wells Cathedral. Even as an obnoxious teenager going to school in Wells I appreciated the history in my environment and often visited the Cathedral where I could touch the carvings and stonemasonry. I also grew up in Doulting where I used the church and

graveyard, and St. Aldhelms well as part of my playground so I suppose its no surprise that my work contains religious overtones. Also, growing up near Glastonbury has meant that an awareness of celtic mythology has contributed to the spiritual diversity which comes through in my work.

What is your studio like?

I took over an empty shop on Sheptons Town Street which consists of a shop front with a window where I can display finished work. I have shelves of objects that inspire, and put up postcards and images on the wall that trigger ideas. There is also a back room where I have my old kitchen table, this is where I do my messy work, my clay space. Its good to have two clearly defined areas on a creative and practical level-it helps to keep me organised! Its also interesting being on the street-it means that I have visitors on a daily basis, people popping in to see what Im up to-as well as being part of the community of traders on the high street.

Who buys your work?

People that like it! I show in a few galleries in Somerset and also sell from the shop in Shepton, as well as doing markets (Frome Artisan Market) and local craft fairs. From selling direct to the public Ive seen that people like to find something in the expressions on the faces of my angels and other figures which makes them want to take them home! I have a few clients that commission some of the larger figures-they work well in groups and Im happy to respond to individuals requests. Ive even made a mille fleur bantam as a commission for a wedding anniversary present!

SAW Venue 114, Studio 33, Town Street, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 5BE

Jo will be sharing the studio with two other ceramic artists, Sue Liby and Sheena Spacey

Over 300 local artists and makers will be showcasing their work in about 200 venues during this years Somerset Art Weeks.

Taking place between 18 September and 3 October, the event will focus on individual artists in their working environment looking at their inspiration and creative processes.

A diverse range of work will be on display from pottery, glass, basketry and watercolour to textiles, wood and metal work as well as print, photography and several site-specific installations. Artists of regional and national repute will be opening their studios alongside an increasing number of emerging talent.

For the first time, a new Art Weeks exhibition programme is being introduced, which will include Artists at Work at the Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton. AIR Gallery in Wells and the Meeting House, Ilminster will also host exhibitions to showcase a selection of high quality and affordable work offered by Somerset artists. The Octagon Theatre, Yeovil will be transformed into a temporary studio to showcase young peoples work.

To draw the Open Studios event back to its roots, artists are encouraged to interact with visitors and talk about their work in a creative setting. There also will be workshops, talks and taster session for all ages. The Art Weeks are a great opportunity to purchase and commission artworks or to simply enjoy Somersets art and culture; most studios are also family friendly.

Visitors to the studios can enter a free prize draw to win a two-night dinner, bed and breakfast stay at the Swan Hotel, Wells, www.swanhotelwells.co.uk

A colour guide to the Somerset Art Weeks 2010 is available with maps and details of the Open Studios and exhibitions. To request a copy email info@somersetartwork.org.uk or call 01458 253 800; details plus an interactive map is also online at www.somersetartworks.org.uk

Spotlight on Somerset artists

Somerset Life caught up with just a few of those artists who will be showing their work and finding out what inspires them.

*Photographer Ingrid Hesling lives near Wiveliscombe. She often works with young people, using photography to explore such issues as identity, aspiration and sense of place. She has worked with young women in India and Africa, with a theme of creating a positive female image.

How would you describe your work?

My pictures are very diverse and difficult to categorise, but the common thread that runs through them is my view of the world. They are a reflection of my personal observations exploring my own experiences and concerns, childhood fears, hopes and dreams, the mother daughter relationship, identity and the aging process and most recently, documenting redundant workplaces.

I have lived in Somerset all my life and I love the West Country with its varied landscapes, yet I tend not to make classic landscape pictures. My images often have a narrative quality to them, as if something is poised to happen or has just happened. I like to explore the human condition, how we relate to one another, how we impact on our environment and the traces we leave behind and the quirkiness of it all. I know my work can be uncomfortable but it can also humorous. I photograph to make sense of my experiences, which explains my interest in art therapy.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I didnt study photography at college and came to it through a local evening class. I just wanted to learn how to use the camera. I was lucky to have an inspirational and creative teacher who showed me what photography was really about the image not the equipment! I then worked for several years with Peter Goldfield, who set up Photographers at Duckspool in the Quantock Hills; a centre for creative photography offering residential workshops with visiting tutors such as Fay Godwin, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Martin Parr and many other highly regarded international names. I was very fortunate to be there at that time and learned a great deal from that experience. I later studied art therapy followed by an MA in Visual Communication at UCE, which I was awarded in 2001.

What inspires you?

It could be a scrap of discarded paper on a floor, a conversation, a work of art, friends, a place, I can never predict what may inspire me.

When travelling in rural areas of the world I find my Somerset country background allows me an innate understanding of the shared condition. This makes for an easy rapport with the people, whether it be in Africa, India, Asia or the Americas. Whoever and wherever the viewer, I want my photographs to communicate, through landscape,

documentary or portrait. I love the way photography is a form of conversation you dont have to speak the same language or read and write to connect.

Can you describe your technique?

If I could have a built in camera in my head and just blink whenever I wanted to capture an image I would be happy. I photograph in the world around me rather than in a studio setting. I have made pictures with expensive top of the range equipment, point and shoot cameras and homemade pinholes. The best camera in the world wont make you an artist. The French photographer, Cartier Bresson said a good photo happens when the heart, hand and eye fall on the same axis! Its an intuitive response.

What is your studio like?

When I used film I did all my own processing and printing but with digital cameras I no longer need a dark room, so my studio tends to be where my laptop is. I took a laptop and a portable printer to the foothills of the Himalayas! I still prefer to do my own printing and for exhibitions and I tend to print on archival water colour paper. I love the way the colours look, rather than glossy photographic prints.

Whats your best time of day for working?

It all depends on where I am, whats going on and the weather!

What can we see during Somerset Art Weeks?

I will have a residency at Kings College, Taunton where I will be working with GCSE and A level students. The title of my work (which is being made especially for the residency) is Open Spaces, Intimate Places, exploring the extensive college grounds and the contrasts between the old and modern buildings.

SAW Venue: The Kings College Art School Gallery.

*Jon England lives at Durston and as well as being an artist is a part-time technician at Richard Huish sixth-form college.

How would you describe your work?

My work is inspired by Somerset's WWII heritage. Both the local inhabitants who experienced these events and thephysical evidence that still proliferates the countryside such as abandoned airfields and pillboxes have an amazingresonance for me.

Did you have a formal education or are you self-taught?

I graduated with a BA (Hons) Fine Art from Central St Martins, Londonin 2004.

How would you describe your work?

The work takes many forms including site-specific installation, painting, photography, mixed-media and occasionally film and video. It is characterised by an inventive use of humble and unexpected materials relevant to subject matter. For instance, my discovery that James Leslie Robert Long, the last of 'The Fifty' to be executed after the 'Great Escape' was a former resident of Taunton and student of the Huish Grammar School, led me to embark on the project of rendering his and all of 'The Fifty' portraitsusing a technique I have developed of painting with 'Klim' milk, the variety the POW's would have received in their Red-Cross Parcels. This work led to me being named the first 'Reveal Emerging Artist' in 2008, culminating in a major solo show at the Brewhouse last autumn.

What is your studio like?
My studio, a WWII era timber framed 'Laing hut, has providedat oncethe departure point for my exploration of this subject matter, the place of its creation and at times the materials of its construction.

What can we see during Somerset Art Weeks?
I am working in collaboration with octogenarian Edward Milligan, a former prisoner ofNazi Germany whose Lancaster Bomber was shot down in 1944 whilst attacking V1 launch sites on the French coast. Ted is a consummate draughtsman who will be exhibiting his incredible paintings and drawings produced during his captivity as well as new work drawn from his memory of the period.
I hope that my work willattract the attention of museums and institutions, those with family links to the subject matter I portray,as well as individuals seeking a unique and original artwork.

SAW Venue 11,
Hut 27, Marklands, Lower Durston, Nr Taunton, TA3 5AH open Thurs Sun, 11-6

*Designer-maker Fabrizia Bazzo has been working with glass for over 12 years. She lives in Whitelackington just outside Ilminster.

How would you describe your work?

I believe that glass has mystical qualities irrespective of its location; it changes in intensity with the light during the day and working with glass means having to learn to work with light itself. Transparency, fragility, reflectivity, are only some of the properties of glass that I like to use; aesthetically or metaphorically. The medium then becomes a screen where, thanks to light, feelings and emotions can be projected and received, revealed or concealed.

Glass can be a very challenging and unpredictable medium, but it is also very special, since working with glass means having to work with light itself.

I use a range of techniques to interpret my designs including acid etching, sandblasting, painting, staining and leading. The approach is sometimes representational, or may be pictorial or abstract. The final result, however, is always a fluid response utilising the vibrant qualities of the medium itself.

Although stained glass is, essentially, a 2-dimensional discipline, I have started to make panels which are more 3-dimensional by using several layers of glass, bonded by fusing or casting. Although working with glass is technically demanding, techniques and skills must be considered merely as tools they are just the means rather than an end in themselves.





When did you first realise you were an artist?

This is difficult.

I have always loved painting and art in general and this has always been a major motivating factor in my life. I worked in the accounts department of a large industrial corporation in Italy for 22 years and it was my love and enthusiasm for art that gave me the motivation to find an escape from my office environment.

In those early days I learnt techniques, such as painting on china and oil on board, in the traditional way; by spending all my spare time sitting at the same table as my teachers, learning by watching and following what they were doing.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I am principally self taught and have never had any formal training or apprenticeship in glass work. However, my interest in the arts in general has driven me to attend a Degree Course in Fine Art from Plymouth University, completed in 2007. I was never allowed to attend Art College when I was younger and this was an opportunity to experience what I may have missed as well as making sure that I kept my mind open!

I was elected as an Associate of the British Society of Master Glass Painters in 2005 and I have been a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen since 1998.




What inspires you?

The natural beauty of the countryside around my studio, along with the simple pleasure that I get when working with a piece of glass, provide me the inspiration for my designs. Making is the mix of sensitivity with technique and inevitably it becomes a way to be.

Can you describe your technique?

Each of my works, whether designed for a specific architectural setting or for an exhibition, satisfies my curiosity and brings to fruition an idea.

Whilst a work for an exhibition is uncompromising, the challenge in designing and fabricating something for an architectural setting is that the work should be right for that specific space. It doesn't need to stand out or make a statement itself, but it should blend quietly with and become a part of its environment, letting the vibrancy of the colours within the glass interact with the light in the space in which it will reside.

Ultimately, the work should provoke enquiry and discovery by the viewer, as well as providing a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

What is your studio like?

I feel privileged every time I enter my new studio. Although it is not big enough for the kind of work I do and the facilities I have at the moment are still very limited, it is still a very intimate and inspiring space with a big portion of the countryside at my doorstep. The feeling of being close to nature is all the inspiration that I need.

Whats your best time of day for working?

I love working in the morning when the light is so right and the air so pure.

SAW Venue 44, The Studio at Hall Cottage, Whitelackington, Ilminster, Somerset TA19 9EF

*Fiona Hingston is an artist and teacher who lives in West Horrinton near Wells

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I originally trained as an art teacher. I went back to university a few years ago to do an MA.

Can you describe your technique?

Drawing/ scratching on paper layered with earth and other pigments.

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from routine walks around my home noting the cyclical order of natures; of beauty and decay. This is not special to Somerset it is found anywhere. The use of natural materials in making and drawing is central to my practice, taking the outside into my studio and into the work.

What is your studio like?

I share a studio with the painter Janette Kerr. Its freezing in winter a delight in summer with the door open allowing sunshine and birdsong into the room.

SAW Venue 140 Cheese Yard Studio, West Horrington, Nr Wells, Somerset BA5 3ED

*Lucy Brown lives near Wedmore and makes lights and homeware in porcelain

*How would you describe your work?
I have two different avenues within my work. My lights are all about the clay.I dont use colour or glazes, they explore texture, light and form.My homeware is very different and I have a bit of fun with it.I use bold colours, and quirky shapes, playing with functional forms.

When did you first realise you were an artist?

I dont know if I am, but I started doing ceramics when I was 10 and havent been able to put it down since. I have tried other mediums but have never found them as satisfying as working with clay.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?
I did a studio ceramics degree at Falmouth College of Arts and graduated in 2004.


What inspires you?

I love living in Somerset and spend far too much time walking on the Mendips. Im sure this landscape inspires my work a lot.I am also inspired by gardening and plants in general, textiles and vintage crockery.


Can you describe your technique?

Most of my work is constructed from rolled slabs, which I wrap and use the seams as a feature. I also make some lights using fabrics dipped in porcelain slip.


What is your studio like?

My studio is at the end of the house, its lovely and light with a view of the garden.

Whats your best time of day for working?
I need to have a whole day free because it takes me a long time to get going and Im easily distracted.


SAW Venue 146, Bronhallow Barn, Clewer, Wedmore, Somerset BS28 4JF

Leo Davey lives in Minehead and is a freelance illustrator/artist

When did you first realise you were an artist?

My parents are both artists. I was encouraged to draw and paint from as early as I can remember.

How would you describe your work?

I work primarily in Indian ink and watercolour. My style and the subjects that I paint are forever changing. Subjects range from 1940/50s style railway posters, museum/shop interiors, landscapes, trees and childrens picture book illustration. I work mainly from

my own photos. The photo is a starting point, something to be observed, adjusted, stylised and manipulated to achieve an inspired composition.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I studied illustration at Falmouth where I specialised in childrens picture book illustration.

What inspires you?

As well the rich diverse Somerset country side and coastline I draw inspiration from many artists. People that spring to mind are Frank Newbould (a British travel poster designer of the 40s and 50s), Norman Rockwell (an American illustrator, (Evening Post covers etc.) and Wayne Thiebaud (amongst other things a still life painter, whose subjects include richly painted pies, cakes and deli counters)

Can you describe your technique?

I wouldnt say that I had a technique. I use a variety of techniques, from carefully applied dip pen and ink lines to vigorously splattered and smudged gouache, from broad one colour washes to a painting by number kind of approach (without the numbers part). Every painting has different problems to solve and each solution can require a different technique.

What is your studio like?

My studio is a medium sized room on the first floor, in the front of my house, in a terraced sloping street in Minehead. I work at a table that I made at school. Its a glass topped table. Underneath the glass is a 120 compartment grid. In this grid are many knick-knacks, all the watches in ever had, toys from cereal boxes and Kinder eggs, keys, broken lighters, badges, beads and other junk/treasure. The rest of my studio is full of upright storage/display grids filled with more paraphernalia, book/DVD/video filled shelves. Everything is very ordered. I watch/listen to films whilst I paint. I love my studio.

Whats your best time of day for working?

I dont have a favourite time to work. My least favourite time is when the sun is shining directly through the window. Casting shadows over my work is one thing, but staying motivated when you could be out enjoying the sun is worse.

Who buys your work?

My work is in galleries in Godalming, Sutton Cold Field, Lynton, Porlock and Minehead. I also have cards and prints in various shops throughout the south west.

Where can we see your work during Somerset Art Weeks?

I am opening my home and studio to all those who might be interested.

I will be filling the walls of the ground floor in my house with all my latest works (railway posters, bakelite museum paintings, the winning Evolver prize piece, new landscapes and coralscapes) at 16 West Street.

SAW Venue 195, 16 West Street, Minehead, Somerset TA24 5EJ

Lucy Large lives near Stogumber in West Somerset and currently makes wire sculpture

When did you first realise you were an artist?

Not until my mid-twenties. My father is a painter and my younger sister also studied painting at college. It seemed as though art was already being covered in our family. While living for a short time in southern Ireland a friend inspired me to try pottery and when I returned to England, I began some evening classes. This in turn led to lessons with a local potter learning to throw. The process really caught my attention and I decided I would like to study it further at college. I enrolled on a Foundation Diploma course and it quickly became apparent, as I was introduced to a whole world of disciplines, that I no longer wanted to work with clay exclusively. I found myself using a variety of materials, though always three dimensionally.

Did you have a formal education or are you self taught?

I did a year long Foundation Diploma course at SCAT in Taunton, which introduced me to a range of disciplines. I then went on to do a three year degree course at Camberwell College of Art in south London where I studied sculpture.

How would you describe your work?

At the moment I am making wire sculptures. I have used wire quite a bit in the past and like the way you can be quite gestural with it some of the pieces feel like three-dimensional drawings.

At college my work was often concerned with a sense of theatre the idea of objects being staged and scenes created. I think some of that interest still exists in the current work and the way it is presented.

What inspires you?

Im never sure where inspiration comes from. Its easier to trace an idea back with hindsight. My current work involves sculptures of birds, which would suggest I have responded directly to my environment, although the starting point was not from direct observation of wildlife.

I think living in Somerset has a big effect on my work, but that is as much to do with having space (literally and emotionally) to think and have ideas. From a practical point of view, having family close by here in Somerset means that I am able to make sculpture because my parents help with childcare.

Can you describe your technique?

I manipulate wire mesh into shapes. The mesh is sold as a material for fixing dents in the body-work of cars. I quite enjoy buying the materials for my work from a motoring specialist.

What is your studio like?

I dont actually have a studio. I work at the kitchen table of the house I rent with my husband and two daughters. The house is an old farmhouse surrounded by fields, quite cut off, so there are few distractions on the days when I get to work.

Whats your best time of day for working?

It has to be while the children are elsewhere, so I usually have one day a week where my parents look after them while I work. I can then sometimes grab the odd hour here and there when the youngest naps or in the evenings.

SAW Venue 209, 1 Castlake Farm, Stogumber, Somerset TA4 3TT

Public artist, sculpture and designer Michael Fairfax lives in Wiveliscombe. His work includes both garden and interior pieces, camera obscuras and sun burnings harnessing the power of the sun to create markings on wood.

How would you describe your work?

My public art can be found in many places all over Britain including Exeter, Cambridge and Tintagel as well as in America. Every now and again I get the chance to make smaller pieces to sell. Somerset Art Weeks will be one of those opportunities.

When did you first realise you were an artist?

My father was a poet and my mother was initially a dancer so the arts were always there and I guess my brother Jo and I had no chance but to end up in the arts. Jo has gone on to make a very successful career in public art.

What can we see during Somerset Art Weeks?

The work that is going to be in the exhibition will be an organic reaction to the nature of wood basically a dialogue between me and the wood.

Can you describe your technique?

I carve the wood and some pieces are charred with a blow torch.

What is your studio like?

I have a studio at Waterrow and I get my materials from my 10 acre wood. I do all the dirty, heavy stuff there with a chain saw and then take the wood back to my studio to work on it.

What inspires you?

The inspiration comes from being in the wood and I seek solace amongst the great oaks, the red soil and the pudding stone whilst the buzzards and ravens wheel above me.

For the last six years I have been lead artist in the Blackdown Hills neroche project.

My work is totally in response to the environment and governed by where I am. I really love the beaches around Kilve, East Quantoxhead and Blue Anchor. One of the wonderful things about Somerset is the diversity of landscape youve got the Levels, the Blackdowns and the Quantocks and the sea; its one of the reasons I love Somerset. As an artist you never turn off you could be watching a television programme or talking to your kids and have the best idea you ever had.

SAW Venue 24, Hurstone Workshop, Waterrow, Somerset TA4 2AT

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