Monthly Archives: July 2012

Artist Spotlight: Adriana Brinsmead-Stockham

 

Casting and sculpting in glass is an exacting discipline which calls for complete technical mastery.  Like all art forms that require real mastery, what emerges if successful, looks effortless, like the artists job was somehow to ‘get out of the way’ to set the work free and to me, Adriana’s works reflects that ideal.  She brings her ideas to life in forms that require an enormous amount of artistry, skill and investment to produce.  The interplay of light through the faultless body of glass makes each piece appear almost weightless, although it’s anything but as the glass itself is lead crystal based. This means each piece can be finished to a state of perfect clarity, allowing the light itself to bring to life the pure saturated colour and complex carved rythmical shapes she creates to describe water’s signature on the landscape.  Here Adriana talks in more detail about her work and how she came to find her path as an artist.

Water is my greatest inspiration. What it represents, what it does, what it gives, takes, forms and re-forms (such as coastlines and landscapes, canyons and mountains).  Its different states – solid, vapour, liquid.  The fact that it is both life-giving yet life-taking, creating new things and also destroying.  All of its contradictions and duality drive me to try and capture it – not only of itself but also how it affects me.  It can look so innocent and calm yet be deadly, it is mercurial in its moods – the sea can be gentle and welcoming one moment and then change to a madness of power and destruction the next. It refreshes yet frightens, invigorates or drains, it cleanses or pollutes – but above all, it continually draws me to it and when I’m by a body of water such as a river, lake or best of all coastline, I feel as if I belong, like a homecoming almost – its very hard to explain.

I develop new designs and ideas by visiting different areas – whether it be the Thames, the South Coast, the Great Canyons of the USA, icebergs in Alaska or the puddle in my garden – I have my camera with me to capture anything that catches my eye – usually the patterns of the water itself or the patterns and designs that water has made on the land and landscape.  I then start thinking about how I can take those images and patterns and translate them into a piece of work.   Being inspired, to me, just means being driven to create something that hopefully captures what I’m experiencing.  When this dries up, I either re-visit bodies of water or start thinking about where I would like to go that I haven’t been to, but my main problem is usually being overwhelmed with ideas and not having enough time or resources to follow them all through.
My life as an artist came fairly late in life.  I wasn’t brought up to believe that being an artist was an acceptable form of employment, let alone an option!  I’ve always loved drawing and photography, just for my own pleasure, and due to a change in personal circumstances I was given the opportunity to go to University to take a degree in Fine Art – however, whilst doing the Access to Education course that my chosen University (UCA Farnham) ran, I discovered that they had a renown Glass department and that sealed my fate for studio glass has always been a love of mine.  So I then embarked on a degree in 3D Design specialising in Glass and have gone on to do an MA in Contemporary Crafts, also in Glass, which I will be completing later this year.
Opening myself up as an artist has made me much more aware of my surroundings rather than taking them for granted or not ‘seeing’ them properly.  I find it hard to experience any sort of landscape that intrigues me without thinking about what I could do with it/how I would represent it – whether it’s a deliberately sought out ‘inspiration’ or one that catches my eye while driving on a motorway or walking round the local supermarket – different things can be very evocative and can ‘jog’ different thought processes – usually related to something I’m either already working on or thinking about doing. The most surprising thing about taking this ‘path’ is that whilst everyone I knew either called me brave (to my face) or just plain crazy, I just felt so excited and lucky to have finally found what I truly want to do and I now have a personal confidence and sense of myself that I have never had before, and never believed possible.

My studio and workspace is extremely important and I enjoy having the option to work on my own when I want to and around others when I don’t.  I like my own company and am a bit of a control freak when it comes to designing/making and hate it when other people use my tools without looking after them properly, but I also enjoy the mad banter that a small group of artists generate – the exchange of ideas, often crazy, and lots of laughter is such a wonderfully creative atmosphere and I cherish it.   I love taking my photographs and they are an intrinsic part of my design process and whilst I’m not bad at composition, my technical skills are more or less dictated by the ‘auto’ settings!  But if I had to work 3D-wise in another medium then it would probably be wood.

To date, I only make one off pieces, not from any sort of snobbery for batch making – but just because that is what I really enjoy doing.  Commissions (for unique pieces) are also something I also appreciate – for whilst initially they might not be what I would have chosen to do myself, to be able to take a brief and produce something that gives someone else pleasure but is also identifiable as my work, is a great sense of achievement.  I mainly leave the selling and marketing of my work to galleries – what I produce is not conducive to selling online and I maintain a website more as a portfolio than as a direct sales tool.  I also exhibit in group exhibitions with other artists but I find stewarding a bit of a bore and would much rather be making something than selling it!  If money were no object I would spend all my time travelling and designing/making and employ someone else to do all the sales, marketing and paperwork!

Adriana’s work will be available through the gallery until Sunday August 5th.

Artist Spotlight: Linda Connelly

It’s surprisingly hard to find good enamellers so I was really happy that Linda agreed to come and show her work here in the gallery.  The humour and light heartedness of her style is instantly attractive and engaging, but understanding the level of patience and skill necessary to create the standard of work she produces takes it to another level.  Here Linda talks about her artistry, the fascinating process of how she creates her work and the inspiration behind it.

Sometimes an idea appears to me almost fully formed. I can see it in my mind and I play around with colours and designs in my head, making notes and drawings on. Then I will need to go through a lengthy process with pen and overlays before the design is completed to my satisfaction.  On other occasions, for instance the Brighton Pavilion clock, I go through an extensive design process from scratch, photographing and drawing the building from life and then collecting all the other source material I can find. Then I work with tracing paper and a fine black pen, first setting out the basic shape and then repeatedly tracing over it to refine the design. Sometimes I do some of this work in Photoshop, particularly when I want to play around with scale or produce a detailed symmetrical image.

As part of this process I also have to consider the techniques and materials I will use to achieve what I want. Often this will involve making numerous tests and experiments with colours and processes. I keep detailed notes at this stage in a ‘Technical Notebook’, often including detailed samples. As each piece can have anything from 6 to a dozen or more separate firings, it is important to rationalize the making process at this stage, and ensure that my planned colours will work well together, both visually and technically. I also have to consider construction of the piece and how this will fit into the enamelling process. Often in jewellery I elect to solder some elements after or partway through the enamelling stage. This is technically demanding but often the best solution. In the case of jewellery I make mock ups and check the visual appearance of the shape, and how it will hang when worn. Finally of course I have to check that it will fit into the kiln!

Inspiration can arise from all kinds of sources. Sometimes during a walk on the beach, patterns in the sand or rocks will suddenly stimulate an idea and I will have to rush off to draw it. Other times, ideas seemingly materialize from ‘thin air’, although often I can trace a path of various stimuli that have suddenly gelled! I can’t envisage an existence without creativity. Sometimes I go through a dry patch but this is like being only half alive. Being driven by a creative force is as essential to me as oxygen in the air to breathe.

I have always known that I had to create. Over the years that creativity has found many outlets, but for me it is not a choice – it’s a part of me. Not being an artist was never an option. Without it I don’t feel fully alive. Even when my children were young and time was short, I still managed to find time to draw ideas. I didn’t have much time to make anything, but putting them on paper so they might happen in the future helped to keep me going.

I have recently had the problem of dealing with a lull in the flow of ideas, and I started reading through some of my vast collection of enamelling and jewellery books. I find that bombarding my mind with images, as well as accumulating knowledge of different techniques helps my sub-conscious to chug away and produce a new idea. Otherwise, looking through my old sketch books usually produces an old idea that never happened before, but now with new experiences and knowledge can come to fruition. To this end I constantly note down ideas and collect source material which I collate into folders and books. I also take every opportunity to visit inspiring galleries and exhibitions as well as subscribing to various jewellery and craft magazines. All of this helps to ensure a constant stream of ideas and inspiration.

I love my studio. I wish it was larger but it is light and well designed for me. For instance my kiln is at a level that I can see into it without having to bend so I don’t strain my back. Everything I need is there and within easy reach. I only wish I could find it!

I have always wanted to try blacksmithing. Similar to jewellery making in that it involves heat and hammers but on a much larger scale! I once went parascending – even though I’m terrified of heights! It was amazing – so quiet flying above the sea looking down on the earth. I could have stayed up there for much longer – especially as I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to do it again!

I think the future is good. I think that more and more people are becoming disillusioned with mass produced, cheap, badly made goods and are looking to buy fewer items that will last longer and are beautifully made and designed. I welcome the challenge of commissions. With regards to repeating work, I tend to only produce small quantities of any one thing as I’m always being excited by the next new ‘brilliant’ idea.