Artsite Studios

Thought I’d take this opportunity to put together a blog to introduce all the studio members at Artsite, their artwork and some thoughts about what it means to have a studio space to create in Swindon. So here they are…….     

  Paula Sullivan

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Working as an artist can be isolating and having an affordable studio is important so you are not restrained by big fees. Its great to have a dedicated space available 24/7 which encourages your creative practice among other artists.   At the moment my inspiration comes from my collection of old china and pottery from the Victorian era and the the decades of the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I am fascinated by the history of these objects which influence me and I incorporate into my work.  
  I run a weekly Art Club on a Wednesday morning.  
      I often work on different pieces at once switching from mosaic making to drawing and painting. I’ll start with a large mug of tea. I spend time researching, experimenting, and getting inspiration for ideas. I catch up with the other artists and help with jobs that need doing at Artsite.    My studio is full of shelves of broken china, pottery, books, paints and lots of clutter! A  large table that I work on, and a cabinet displaying my collected jugs and pots. I have a wall dedicated to inspiring me with other artists images, and quotes. I have drawings and paintings spread around the studio. It’s my haven.

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Phyllida Richards -
Having space to be able to make is the thing that helps keep my life in balance.
It is especially nice to be able to walk down the road, arrive, and tune in to what I was doing last time and connect again..

121413 A typical day for me is lots of lovely people, a busy café and probably some washing up or some coffee making and lots of listening, planning and encouraging at The Olive Tree Café. Its then time for a dog walk, and hopefully some time down at my studio, unless it is Silent Witness on the telly!
Loads of people and things inspire me, and like many, our beautiful countryside and landscape does too. Sometimes a cold rainy walk at dusk or to Barbury is the best.
My studio is a bit of a hotch potch with a ) ash of enamelling and wools and cords everywhere. There are usually 3 or 4 things on the go, as I have the concentration of a gnat. I’m so lucky to have the space to do it.
 I used to run the craft studio at TWIGS. When I left that, the thing I missed most was making with people and sharing that creative process. It is lovely to be doing some workshops again,-Make and Cake has been established nearly 2 years now, and I keep saying I will do some felting and some enamelling. It was lovely to do a couple of young carers workshops last year. I enjoy sharing my materials and gathering for new projects. I am looking at ways of combining some felting with enamelling, and  also enamelling onto good old copper piping . There are also some Chinese lanterns almost finished, I think I could happily spend all my time trying out different seed head forms…but then that would mean some concentration.

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Kelly Ishwari Waldek
Printmaking and Mixed Media

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My studio is my place to hide and re-set., my sieve-space of survival, where all the noise and the chat can be refracted or rejected.
Here I can pick jewels from chaos, and pause to sense with clarity where beauty lies in all that loud dreary funk, and quietly digest, regard, tease out and transform beautiful truth.

A typical day begins with my priority firmly in place: maintaining a functioning standard of health and well-being necessary to look after my beloved family. If energy or time remain, creativity and contemplation ensue. I may be lucky enough to indulge in the nutritious business of making; that could be designing/transferring/cutting/proofing or printing a block, or I may spend time in productive meditation, steadily producing a mandala.  Occasionally I am able to venture out into nature, to drink in the freely available splendour of landscape, and/or ancient creations and sign-posts. Most importantly, every day I endeavour to allow and arrange as much time as possible to be still, to be idle, to be quiet, to be even.
What inspires me?
Natural spaces, forms, shapes and repeats.
Archetypes and symbols.
That which I encounter during glimpses of peace… moments of brain-gap nothingness.
Generosity and selflessness.
My studio is a place where I can more easily recognise my authentic self. A place of messy beauty, untamed trying and un-self-conscious glee, where my own inherent ability to heal and survive is honoured and protected.

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SALLY TAYLOR

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My studio is a haven, a place away from home which is all about me. A space not just for making art but over the years where I can store and curate my collection that both inspires and informs my practice

My days when I’m not making art, are usually a mix of planning projects, admin and meetings. I enjoy being creative generally whether cooking, sewing, decorating or working on my allotment.

Being with other artists at Artsite enriches and inspires me and the process of collaboration, whether exhibitions, events and workshops or creating public artwork. Working within the community with people to become more creative has played a major motivating force as a artist over the years.

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PAUL EXTON

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The studio for me is a special place where I can surround myself with creativity. Its a sanctuary from the distresses of everyday life, and is a place where art can be experimented with, the equivalent to a scientist in the laboratory. The studio offers as much return as one is prepared to use it. A must for all artists.
Other interests include going out in my camper van and enjoying different parts of the country. Exploring historical sites which can feed into my artwork.
I love natural surroundings and am partial to old ruined buildings for inspiration and atmosphere. Going to art gallery’s and museums. Walking country paths, wooded areas and canals

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SAMANTHA SILVERTON

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My studio space is my quiet and creative place, my escape from the everyday ordinary.  It’s a place where I can focus my energy on what makes me happy which is making ceramics.  I’ve recently just finished my masters degree in ceramics so I’m currently re organising my studio space, which mostly involves a lot of tidying.
A typical day could be mixing and sieving glazes and slips, kiln firings, rolling out slabs of clay or doing mundane tasks like reclaiming clay.
    My recent work is inspired by abstract expressionism and the landscape which surrounds us. Each piece I make is unique and slightly sculptural, highly decorated tuning into an intuitive and spontaneous way of working. Focusing mostly on surface decoration.  I’m inspired by the depth of colour and marks which can be achieved on the ceramic surface

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VICKY SILVER

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My studio is the only place I have where can go and for a short time and forget all my responsibilities. It is my thinking space, my breathing space, a space where I can go and work, without judgement or interruption.
I sometimes start working with no preconceived thoughts or idea other than to explore the medium in front of me, concentrating more on atmospheric perspective and depth
It does not simulate or pretend to be anything other than what it is, an instinctive and undisguised emotional event. Birds and creatures feature in my work describing both the strength and fragility of living. I am in fascinated by the dichotomy of the natural world including that of humanity.

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MARTIN KING

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I have a studio at home but at times can feel isolated, I also have a studio at a Artsite. Being part of an art community who give you support and encouragement enables me to focus far more on my work. I like to work with oils and acrylic. I support Paula Sullivan delivering art sessions on Wednesdays. My other hobbies are working with wood, at the moment I am teaching myself to make a 15 century longbows, music is also a hobby of mine

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KATE DAWSON

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My studio represents a safe little haven where I can forget about other stuff going on in my life. Surrounded by my own most personal belongings the privacy is such a comfort. Most other people are not invited in! It’s my sanctuary that doesn’t exist anywhere else in life. I work mostly from observation.. the nude and landscape and then they come together in my studio with imaginary images from my inner psyche to create a more personal depth. Artsite is affordable, keeps one engaged with like minded people and we always have a good laugh. I am so happy to have this space and consider it a privilege in my life.

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BILL COX

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Artsite gave me a studio when I was affected by health issues, I was given my studio free for years when we were at the top of Cricklade rd when the Octobus Project hosted Artsite. Through their help I have been enabled to maintain my art practice which helps me deal with those health issues.
I can honestly say that Artsite have made me able to live in a community that supports both my health and my art. Thank you Artsite

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DEIRDRE LEVY

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Having a studio space is fun, inspiring and keeps me working in a different way to my practice at home. My studio self is more disciplined and un distracted, my studio is small and cosy with plenty of hanging space for my soft sculptures and papers that I prefer to see hanging loosely.
I tend to dream up ideas, collect resources and materials and bring them down to Artsite to continue forming ideas and projects. The studio atmosphere is creative and nurturing in that I can meet and work with other artists as well as spending time alone, a process that seems essential to most artists.
Currently I am working on a ‘ darning as art’ project and continuing the work with masks for the dreaming project at the Richard Jefferies museum – and something close to my heart, workshops for participants to create installations that trace and inform their lives.
As an installation artist the studio space provides a workplace for me to develop ideas and roll with them & see progress reflected in my practice.
A big thank you and much gratitude for Artsite and fellow studio holders

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SUE BARDWELL

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Having an affordable studio close to home allows me the space to focus on my creativity without the distractions I would normally have at home. Being surrounded by other artists is inspiring and gives me a sense of community.
I work as a lecturer at Swindon college and also run an art room at a well being charity called SWADS, both my jobs allow me to be creative and I enjoy inspiring others to get involved.
At the moment my inspiration lies in ‘ the everyday’ – I have set myself the task of a drawing a day for the year and have enjoyed the challenge of interpreting mundane objects into creative works of art.
My workshops at Artsite include Artsite Kidz, Make and Cake and I run  alternative life drawing sessions at the Beehive pub.
As well as my drawing a day I am working on collaborative makeup/body painting projects, an art residency and working towards a joint exhibition using shrines as inspiration
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Lynette Thomas

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I’ve been a member of Artsite for over 10 years, I met  two of the founders Sally and Martin when I was working on a community arts scheme ‘The Octobus Project’ in the mid 90’s. They were based in the same building on Cricklade road and at the time were just a small group. They asked if  I’d like to join them and initially I took part in some of their exhibitions then later on rented a studio when they moved into the old post office building in Theatre square.
As a member of Artsite you are expected to help out in various ways – running community workshops, cleaning, helping with the up keep of the building etc
Having my own studio has been a godsend over the years, a space to escape and create and also collaborate with other artists.  I help Sue Bardwell with  the Artsite Kidz group and also run a weekly mosaic workshop.
I  enjoy the collecting and researching of ideas as much as the creating and finishing the final piece. My studio is full of curiosities and items I’ve collected from walks, car boot sales and charity shops with a view to using them in my artwork.
I get inspired by the ancient Wiltshire landscape, the chalk downs, monuments,  stories and folklore that can be found within it.

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For more information about Artsite go to www.artsite.ltd.uk

Weird Wiltshire Exhibition Opening

The Weird Wiltshire exhibition opened on Saturday 1st April with a night of performance, art and the launch of the new gallery space at the Richard Jefferies museum.  Over 100 people attended the private view on a beautiful Spring evening.

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There were performances by Les Bicyclettes of the Wiltshire White horses and folk songs by Richard Law and Eddie Cooke

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Art on display included work by over 40 local artists with their own interpretation on the theme of Weird Wiltshire. A New Shoots grant from Swindon Borough Council enabled free gallery space for artists taking part and a family activities day ‘ Weird Wednesday’ on April 19th.  The family day includes art & craft activities and strange Wiltshire tales from story teller Chris Park.

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The exhibition is on until the end of April, details for the family day can be found on The Richard Jefferies website

www.richardjefferies.org     Tel – 07768917466

( And not to disappoint Linda here is a photo of Jackie Bardwell astride a White Horse )

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Weird Wiltshire Exhibition

Weird Wiltshire Exhibition

When we put out a call for artwork in January with the theme of Weird Wiltshire we never would have believed we’d have 60 pieces submitted for the exhibition.
It was a great response in all sorts of mediums from photography, collage and  textiles to mosaic, print making, painting, drawing and ceramics.
The exhibition will take place from Sat 1st April at the Richard Jefferies museum, the former home of Swindon’s best loved nature writer and now museum of his work. The opening night will be promoting the launch of the new gallery space and exhibition which includes Wiltshire folklore, super natural beings, chalk horses, standing stones, mummers and moonrakers.

We really hope you can join us  on Sat 1st April from 7 – 9 pm at the Richard Jefferies museum, there will be some music, story telling and a performance by Les Bicyclettes of the seven white horses of Wiltshire ( and maybe a painting or two ) Bring a bottle and invite your friends and family to a night of strange goings on in Weird Wiltshire
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Swindon Open Studios 2016

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What I love about Open Studios is you never know who you might meet or what you might find out – it’s always an interesting experience.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both weekends.

The first weekend I spent in my studio at Artsite, we had a lot of visitors despite the rain – I met a psychogeographer Victor Buehring from Oxford who has been documenting towns along the m4 corridor including Swindon. He told me what he does is go into a town with a sign asking someone to approach him, when they do he asks the person to send him to another place in  town to meet a particular person, when he meets that person he gets sent to another place – this happens 25 times and it gets recorded on a frame to create a picture of the town. The project is called ’25 pockets of’ You can see his blog here and hear about his experience in Swindon  www.artrospektive.com

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Opposite in Number Nine was an exhibition of pictures from Kate Dawsons life drawing class and an exhibition of archaeological illustration by Jennie Anderson who told me all about the Chisledon Cauldrons and Moll Walbee – a 12th century Anglo – Norman noblewoman living in the welsh marches.  She was demonised in Welsh folklore after playing a part in the slaughter of hundreds of Welsh soldiers during the siege of Painscastle and immortalised as a giant and a witch

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The second weekend Bea & I visited Vanetta Joffe’s open studios at Liddington Manor – what a lovely place – I enjoyed seeing Vanettas art studio & paintings but most of all I liked her art journals about her trip to India. I was a bit worried at one point when the door in the toilet got stuck and I almost pulled off the handle but luckily got out without breaking anything!

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Next we went to see work by Every Cloud at Stanton House – they had a great selection of arts & crafts on display in including wood work, needle felting, mono prints and jewellery , all beautifully presented.

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My last stop of the day was to see Alex Coppock Bunce & Teresa Davey – a lovely mix of abstract art, textiles and paintings inspired by Alex’s time in Cornwall & surrounding landscape.

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Sunday started at Eco Fest at Savernake Social hall where we were doing a recycled art workshop, there was also a recycled art exhibition where local artists had made art out of items found at the free shop. There was lots going on – talks, music and stalls including incredible edibles, secret garden, Swindon Climate Action Network, Swindon Travel Choices and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

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When we left Eco Fest we had a few hours left to visit some more studios so Sue and I went to see Tracey Baker Stewart at 49a in Gorse hill , some definite studio envy going on there! Tracey just has to walk down her garden path to her studio opposite, perfect! Tracey showed us some of her portraits and art she’d been making in her workshops, I even signed up for one which I’m really looking forward to.

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Last but by no means least we went to see Eddie and Bee Operanto. They have created an amazing  space at their home, full of magical creatures brought to life from Bees children’s book illustrations. They told us they had invited in some Jehovas Witnesses on their first day thinking they had turned up for Open Studios! Bee told us her studio is a creative mess and she loves it that way. We came away feeling really inspired and looking forward to seeing more next year.

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Museum of the Mind

Museum of the Mind is a new collaborative exhibition by local artists.  The exhibition shows the process of how each artist works in reaching the finished piece – looking at the thought process behind the artwork – what motivates and inspires, frustrates? The exhibition is a combination of different styles including collage, painting, printing and mosaic.

Museum of the mind is on until August 7th at The Beehive, 55 Prospect Place, Swindon

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Upcoming Exhibitions and Events June – September

I will be participating in some events and exhibitions over the Spring / Summer starting next Saturday with the Swindon 175 Arts trail,  June 11th – 25th at Number Nine in Theatre square- an exhibition of artwork & postcards. The title of the exhibition is ‘ Who do we think we are?’ Postcards of Swindon. It will be open Sat  11 – 16.00. For more info see www.swindon175.com/swindon_arts_trail.htm

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July 3rd – 6th August Museum of the Mind Exhibition at the Beehive, Prospect Place, Swindon

Artists explore what makes them create and the process they go through to get to the final piece of finished artwork

Swindon Open Studios ( 2nd & 3rd weekends in September )

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‘Aspects of colour’ mosaic exhibition at the Beehive throughout September, looking at colour in culture, music , history & art.

I will also be opening my studio at the Shoe Box theatre ( Formerly the Post Modern building in Theatre Square ) the 2nd weekend in September and will be running a recycled art workshop with Bea Menier during the 3rd weekend in September at Savernake Halls Eco Fest in Old Town

For more information on Swindon Open Studios go to www.swindonopenstudios.yolasite.com

A break from the old routine

‘ Above all , you should do things that ignite your enthusiasm ‘

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This is a line I read recently that stuck in my mind.  Sometimes it’s worth making time to take a few hours out of your weekly routine to do something just for you, take a walk ,  recoup some energy…..

If you are anything like me taking time out can be beneficial – especially when you have a mind full of clutter with 101 ‘ things to do’ buzzing around your head.  I get a lot of inspiration from the local landscape, places like Avebury & West Kennet so these are the places I tend to head for to go & contemplate things.  Just being in the open space gives you chance to breathe & go back  to your project/ideas with a clear mind and new perspective.

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Little Free Library

Have really enjoyed working on the Little Free Library project for Savernake Social Hall in Old Town.  The library was installed & ready to use at today’s Big Lunch event.  The theme I was given to work with was nature & I included some words by local  writer Richard Jefferies who was inspired by the landscape around Coate Water.

There are lots of Little Free Libraries around the country all decorated in different styles,  the idea of the little free libraries is that people can donate a book & leave it in the box and take one in exchange to read.  Little Free Library is part of a national charitable initiative by Little Free Library UK to promote reading and art in communities across the country.  For more information go to
www.littlefreelibraryproject.org.

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Secret Garden Mosaic Workshop

Thank you to everyone who came along to the Mosaic Workshop in Queens Park yesterday! Was a fantastic turn out and a fun day in the sunshine creating mosaics for the Secret Garden.

We worked on designs  &  symbols to represent the various faiths, we even had a request for Jediism.  The secret Garden is run by volunteers and they are doing a great job transforming the area, go take a look if you haven’t already

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Mosaic Workshops at Number Nine

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MOSAIC WORKSHOPS IN DECEMBER

Learn to cut, glue and grout a mosaic…. using found objects, jewellery, mirror and coloured glass to either work on your own projects or make presents for Christmas. All materials are provided.

If you would like to come along to a workshop there are still some spaces left on a Tuesday evening 7.30 – 9 pm. £10 per session. It is held at Number Nine in Theatre Square which is opposite The Post Modern Gallery.

To book a place email Lynette at akmosaicsuk@yahoo.co.uk

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