society of designer makers

Jo Pethybridge – Ceramics

I love working with clay, using both of my hands together. Colour, patterns and nature are also very important to me so to be able to combine all these factors in my art is a great creative driver.

 

I find things that interest me while travelling, walking or in my surroundings, e.g. vineyards, bed mattress springs, pine forests, waves. I take photographs or sketch them. Later I make drawings from them working them into patterns, which I then draw onto my ceramic pieces. These are then painted and glazed.

 

I never regard my pieces as ‘work’ as I get so much pleasure from making them. I have never been tempted to move into probably more lucrative functional pottery as I like to view each piece as an individual one inspired by my latest experiences.

My problem is I have too many ideas and as each piece takes time to complete I have to store some ideas for later. I do often revisit themes to evolve them.

 

While I was working as a therapist and manager being an artist needed to come second, but over the years I have been making ceramics it has become increasingly important to me. Since retiring in 2010 I have been able to concentrate on my art, which has been wonderful. Some of my earliest memories though were of making mud pies in the garden!

 

Art has always been very therapeutic for me, after a hard day at the office it was a great stress buster. It is also very grounding and relaxing.

In my type of ceramics no two pieces are the same, although I do repeat ideas and patterns if I like them but often using different colours.

Because I was working and married I did not need to earn a living from my art, which gave me great freedom in the type of work I was ablre to do. I do find the process of selling and marketing a challenging process. I have enjoyed doing this with other artists in art societies and open house groups.

Art like music I feel will always be present in the world. Art is a good way to express feelings and can be a record of the times.

 

My studio is in the attic ,which has excellent light which is important when making ceramics and plenty of space to store and dry pieces. The only disadvantage is carrying clay stored in the basement up 4 flights of stairs, but it keeps me fit. Painting my pieces can be done anywhere preferably in a comfortable chair with good lighting.

 

 

 

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 – Jule Mallett

I first saw Jules’s work at the Mall Galleries  in London at the beginning of the year.  I liked her work immediately, I really enjoyed the humour but also the ethos behind it.  The obsession todays society has with physical perfection is a very interesting topic and Jules work highlights the absurdity of it in a gentle and affectionate way that is well said and charming!   Her work is fresh, quirky and can’t help but raise a smile.

Here she talks about her work and gives a fascinating in depth look at how she came to be where she is today.

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‘In trying to achieve true beauty Hengrels have lost their own identity and heritage.’

At the heart of my current work are ‘Hengrels’, an artificially enhanced hybrid species of chicken in search of true beauty. To satisfy their compulsion for perfection they resort to cosmetic surgery.  Their appearance and behaviour is often odd. I deliberately recycle cloth from clothes and used linen because of its association with our bodies, culture and passage through time. The property of humans, it has not belonged to the Hengrel and is thereby symbolic of a false identity. Their story is only at its beginning.

In response to today’s throwaway society I take devalued textiles, from car-boot sales, and give them new life. Often traditional techniques such as layering and patching juxtapose digitally printed hand drawn images.  My work takes its initial inspiration from Boro, a Japanese form of patchwork in which cloth has been patched and repaired with scraps to extend its life beyond normal expectations. By doing so, these cloths embody the passage of time and identity of its owner. Wear and tear enriches and in such ruination we find beauty. The psychology of the Hengrel however turns this on its head.

My creativity is continuously fed by what surrounds me or rather what I choose to immerse myself in. I am extremely self indulgent and can easily ignore domesticity and the demands of, in my defence a grown up family.  Dinner is often ate on laps as sketch books, pencils, fabrics and threads cover every surface, often floor included. I work best when everything is to hand and visible. I thought I’d be tidier when I graduated but I’m not. Out of sight is definitely out of mind for me. Unless I’m immersed in my media I find it difficult to sustain my creativity as other distractions of normal hum drum family life take over.
When I develop new ideas I constantly have random thoughts which I scribble down on anything to hand. Bits of torn paper eventually collate in old envelopes or on the sideboard and I methodically go through each one and try to explore the possibilities it may have.  My creative journey is often very slow and laborious with many detours and dead ends. I wish I could be more decisive in my creativity but I’ve learnt I need to physically work  through all my ideas in order to be able to move on and evolve my work.

Being inspired is crucial to my creativity. I don’t keep a work schedule or any routine as such. My days are currently interspersed with voluntary sessions at a charity shop, family life and catching up with friends or meetings at textile groups. In between I immerse myself in drawing, stitch, reading books, and going to antique markets, jumble  and car boot sales. I can just as easily be found stitching at 9 a.m. in the morning as I can be at 9 p.m. at night. I create whenever the mood takes me. I never see my creations as work!

When I hit a brick wall or feel I have  ‘creation overload’, I tend to tidy everything away to one corner of the room and reconnect with the outside world. I constantly visit galleries and craft fairs irrespective of their focus as I find inspiration everywhere. I also reach for my camera and walk for hours taking photographs of anything that interests me. You can tell when I’m re evaluating my work or taking a step back because the house is tidier, meals are on the table on time and we entertain guests.

When asked what led me to become an artist I shrug my shoulders and answer ‘I’m not sure how I got here but the pieces all fit!’

As a child my favourite shop was the ‘Treasure Trove’ filled with memorabilia, the macabre and a giant stuffed bear. Most weekends I rummaged through my grandparents bureau and drawers looking for something forgotten. At university I studied Archaeology and developed a particular curiosity for Ethnoarchaeology. Today all of these strands have unconsciously come together.

Equipped with a camera on a summer’s day, I am the person taking photographs of rust and peeling paint. At weekends I’m happiest rummaging through battered cardboard boxes at car boot sales. Having moved several times as a child growing up, I have few markers of my own past. Instead our house is filled with the paraphernalia of strangers. Often I am drawn to the domestic: old brushes still caked in paint, rusty tools, old maps, scuffed picture frames, postcards and photographs. Nothing is pristine. Every surface narrates its own passage through time. In recent years I have started to collect used linen, in particular old embroidered tablecloths, napkins and bed linen. Today these form the fabric of my stitched textile practice.

Being artistic dictates my life and enables me to be, as I said before, rather self indulgent. Our house is full of random bits and pieces that have caught my eye. Shelves overflow with books, remnants of cloth, thread and drawing materials.  Much of my time socially is spent with like minded people. I have a legitimate excuse to keep going to galleries and car boot sales. Luckily for me, my family support me though still shake their head and ask why when I show them my latest acquisition. I promise them one day I will be famous and I might even earn some money!

At the moment my work takes its starting point from my graduation show in 2011. Later this year however I intend to introduce new ‘Hengrels’ into my work. I had hoped to expand my work sooner but I have been completely overwhelmed by the response my work has had since its first showing. Consequently, I am repeating work to demand but I always ensure each piece is individual and unique in its own right which is achievable since all pieces are handmade.

I currently sell my work at exhibitions and through galleries. I have set up a website but it is still very much in its infancy. As a child my dream was to own an art studio, gallery and gift shop . I still have this dream but the closest I’ve come is to be able to enter ‘hengrels’ into google and have it come up with links to my website!

Currently I am working on different ways to expand my range in order to make it more affordable for a wider market. Originally my work consisted of framed pieces, now I have introduced greetings cards, fridge magnets, mugs and even t-shirts, Also, I am  working on a range of original digital prints which focus on the drawn image and are simply embellished with cloth in order to appeal to a different market.  In order to succeed as an artist today I do think you need to continually evolve your work and take note of what’s current.  In the future I would love to see stitched textiles gain recognition as a fine art. At the moment it is still seen by many as a hobby or craft as opposed to art.