Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hazel Burnham – Artist Spotlight

Hazel Burnhams work is currently lighting up the gallery with an explosion of colour.  As a glass artist myself I have to admit to being a colour addict and Hazels work  has that sense of exuberance that  really hits the spot.  Her use of bright jewel like colours just can’t help but attract attention.  Her work in the gallery is displayed either as free standing wall or 3D pieces or as  back lit ‘lamps’ which really bring those amazing colours to life.  Hazels work will be available in the gallery until the first weekend in November and here she talks in more details about her background and thoughts as an artist.

To be inspired is an exciting state to be in!  For me, it is the feeling that I am on the brink of something new and it is at that point the suddenly the ideas can come in a flood.  This is also the point that work is the most vital for me – to explore these sudden new ideas before they are lost – to absorb myself in this state of flow and to follow through the ideas with work and into something tangible is so satisfying.  If at this point, the inspiration is not worked out in some form while still fresh in the mind, it is then destined to perhaps sit in my sketch book, maybe forever.

As an artist I find that ideas for work are entering my mind constantly throughout daily life.  The scenery, people, conversations all infiltrate into my mind and trigger the imagination.  I think that it is impossible to switch off from being an artist at any point, whether at work or not.  The difficulty for me becomes which thoughts and ideas to pursue and which to put on the backburner for future times.  Sometimes an idea can arrive in my mind as fast as a bullet and I can start to work on that idea immediately in glass.  On other occasions I may know that I want to create work on a particular theme, but am not really sure where to start so I will collect images on that particular theme – for instance cityscapes.  I will analyse what it is that is attracting me to this subject and with the cityscapes it is the regularity of the shapes of the blocks combined with the irregularity of their placement.  It is the multiples of windows and the lights emanating from them at night time.  It is also the movement that occurs in amongst the static buildings.

From being a child I think I liked the idea that one day I would be an artist.  However when it came to choosing my subjects at school, I dropped art to take more ‘sensible’ subjects!  After leaving school I started going to pottery evening classes and soon had my own pottery.  Although I have done other work which would not be classed as artistic, I have always utilised aspects of those jobs to remain artistic. For instance, when I was working as a commercial van driver, I would have my camera with me all the time, so I could still make art while I was travelling.  When working in factories, I would think of ideas that I could make in art at later times.  When working in other settings I have noted different situations – perhaps to be later used in a story or poem.

Another of my artistic passions is photography.  Many of the pictures I take, are of subjects relating to the qualities of glass, such as reflection, refraction, distortion and transparency and one of my favourite subjects is ‘the city’. I have a desire to keep improving on what I create.  When I am creating a piece of work, often new ideas jump into my mind and then I can’t wait to have the opportunity to try these out.  The new ideas then lead to others. I am interested in all aspects of art and love visiting exhibitions, I usually come out totally inspired and with a determination to improve on my own work.

For me, the problem is dealing with the constant flow of ideas, rather than lack of them.  I feel that I do not have enough time in my life to work through all the ideas I would like to give time to.  Sometime when I revisit sketch books and scrapbooks of inspirational images that I have collected, I find old and unvisited ideas rushing back.  I find it very useful to collect images that I like, then group similar ones together then try to work out what it is about them I like.  This can be very enlightening when I realise that I have been collecting very similar images, but until putting them all together and studying them, I hadn’t realised why.

Selling and marketing my work is the most difficult aspect of being an artist for me.  Being quite a shy person I find selling directly to the public myself quite stressful, although I do love the opportunity to talk about my work.  I am more comfortable having my work in well chosen galleries with someone to sell on my behalf.  This also gives me more time for the more enjoyable creative part of being an artist.  If money was no object I would take more risks with experimentation.  Glass is an expensive medium to work in and to have unlimited access to materials would be very freeing.

It is virtually impossible for me to recreate exactly one piece from another.  Every piece I make is individual although the design may be similar to that of another.  When I make my pieces, I usually don’t have a set plan as to how it will look.  My pieces tend to grow organically as I create them, and with the cityscapes I like to think that they grow in a similar way to how many cities have grown – with one building growing alongside, but often with no relation to one another, other than that someone wanted it to be there. I enjoy commissions as they often take me on a journey that I would not have embarked upon myself and therefore make life more interesting.

Emma Troy – Artist Spotlight

Emma Troy makes a welcome return to the gallery after bringing her gorgous butterflys and Stags to our opening show. The Butterflies and the Stags Heads never fail to make a fantastic impression and it’s lovely to have them back especially this time of year.  Emma was brought up and went to school at Twickenhams Girls, so even though she now lives in Hove she was really excited to be showing on what she still thinks of as home ground. Here Emma talks in more detail about her work and how she came to find her path as an artist.

Someone once said to me that artists make things to explain an idea that we can’t put into words and I think that sums up what I do.  I have all these ideas, thoughts   and memories that rumble around – sometimes for years – until I see connections and can form them into a coherent image.  At the moment I’m working with images   and song lyrics that have been in my head since my childhood.

Inspiration to me is when several separate ideas suddenly make sense to me as a whole.  This often happens when I’m finishing off another piece of work.  Applying the gold and silver leaf to my prints takes hours and I go into a dreamy state, which can be really great for inspiration.  I’ll sit there for ages quietly applying the glue and then suddenly jump up and either grab my computer to look up something or scramble for a piece of paper to sketch out an idea.

I have to have good light and a nice big desk.  Most of the time, I could work anywhere as long as I have those two essential things and my studio is usually very messy, but occasionally I have an urgent need for a calm, white space and then I go into a frantic tidying phase for a few days.  It clears my head as well as the studio floor! I always listen to music while I’m working and I think that is why I frequently use text featuring song lyrics. I’ll hear an old song on Radio 2 and it will remind me of something in my childhood, which will set off a chain of connections that can lead to a piece of work.

The work part comes after the inspiration.  That’s when I’ve got to find a way of translating the image I’ve seen in my head onto paper. Sometimes it comes easily, other times I struggle. There are a few duffs hidden away in the bottom drawer!

Because I’ve got young children – and so don’t get that much time in the studio – I’ve always got new ideas waiting to be made.  I have a backlog!  I change the way I work quite often – I used to make videos and do performance art – and I’ll so    go and work with someone to learn a new technique whenever I get the chance. I’ve learned all sorts of things from corset making to video editing to plastic welding!
Being an artist has always been with me but I fought it for a long time.  Everyone in my family seems to go to art school so I decided I was going to be a writer instead and got a place on an English Literature degree.  It was only when I realized that I was always delaying doing my written work by making some sort of art that I gave in.  I’ve never regretted it and can’t imagine doing anything else now.  But I’m still fascinated by words and use a lot in my work.

I grew up in Twickenham and have many childhood memories of days spent in Richmond Park.  The Desidero series of prints are inspired by my hazy memories of     those hot ‘70s summers and the deer we saw in the park.  The text which frames each image is from songs I remember hearing on my parents’ radio. Each of my collages is a one off piece but I am happy to make similar works as commissions.  The prints are limited editions, usually of 25 or 50 but there are a few that are much lower numbers.

I sell my work at a small selection of galleries, online and at the Brighton & Hove Artists’ Open Houses Festival each May when I open my own house as a gallery and show the work of about 18 other artists alongside my own pieces.  If money were no object, I’d still make the same work but I’d have a permanent gallery where people could see my work, and that of other artists I like, and I wouldn’t have to worry about making any sales.  Actually, if money were no object, I’d give my work away to anyone that really liked it!


‘Forget Ordinary’ – Autumn Show August – November 2012

Once again it’s all change in the gallery as another collection of artists take their place.  This show seems to be a show of two halves: Vibrant, quirky and full of energy, the colours really glow with amazing rich textiles and fused glass and ceramics that literally infuses the space with energy.

 The second half has a darker dreamy woodland fantasy feel.  The show flows around an amazing collection of exhibition puppets, characters from the imagination of Jill Desbro.  You feel like you’ve met them before, they have a ‘Grimms fairytale’ element to them and they fascinate.  The first character you meet in the window is Mrs Thackery, an impressario, her theatre is inside the folds of her skirt and she has a birds nest of fledgings in her hair.
As you walk around the gallery the other characters are no less bizarre and no less disturbing .  In contrast Emma Troys gorgeous butterflies are back and with a gorgeous summery splash of summer are teamed with Owen Wards fields of flowers.  In amongst the golds and greens and pinks and blues, we have hares and fish and owls, and it’s all overseen by ‘Crow’ the final figure and a dark entity who holds court in the corner.  Come and meet them all – it’s quite amazing!