You’d think there couldn’t possibly be anymore for me to write about the summer. But it just kept on coming! I’d thrown myself into so many things it just got more and more exciting. I wrote a blog post asking; Could I be the next Cumbrian Artist of the Year? Where I explained the brilliant news; that I had been shortlisted for the award! Being shortlisted meant I’d been given the fantastic opportunity to exhibit in Carlisle. But it also meant I had another exhibition piece to organise. This was much easier, as I submitted the piece I had already made for Greystoke “At a Crossroads in Life.” I’d made new planks for piece down at Ullswater (which was still on display at the time) so I gave the original a touch up and sent it off to Carlisle for the exhibition. Which was held at the University of Cumbria’s exhibition space; Vallum Ditch Gallery, Cumbria Institute of the Arts.
Again I had the novel experience of handing over my work to someone else, and this time it was to be curated amongst the other shortlisted artists. I was so disappointed I couldn’t make it to the exhibition. (Unfortunately by this point we’d made the move down to Bristol and I’d started my new job.) And I was even more disappointed I couldn’t attend the opening night, especially when that Instagram Post went up and I found out some rather exciting news… I’d made it into the TOP 5 artists! I couldn’t believe it, I was so honoured to be recognised like that. Although I felt like a celeb that couldn’t make it to the awards ceremony- I was really disappointed. I would like to take this opportunity now though to thank everyone involved in C-Art, Young C-Art and congratulate the well deserved winner Adam Story.
The Great British Caravan
Rachel Fenwick is a Fine Art graduate from Nottingham Trent University. Her practice is concerned with place, in particular the spaces where we spend the vast majority of our lives and where we share our most memorable moments. Born in Lancashire and currently based in Cumbria the artist questions the places we call home. In this series, the artist paints with her own caravan home in mind. With a backdrop of Lake Ullswater and its remarkable mountain range, the caravans stand proud in their beautiful surroundings. The Great British flag waves with pride, adding an emotional value to the painting, as for a time the artist had been toying with the idea of emigrating to Australia. These paintings translate as a big thumbs up to staying here in her English Home. You may notice another flag in the series too, controversially displaying the artists own views on recent political events.
One last thing to announce! Through Eden Arts I submitted an entry for a competition to be awarded ‘Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year’. And I’ve only gone and been shortlisted! Which means I now have a week to summit a piece of work to show at an exhibition in Carlisle to be in the running! #howexciting
So now onto the next big thing! I’m throwing myself into all these opportunities this year, (even though I am starting a new job in September!) Another thing I had up my sleeve was being part of C-Art this year. After volunteering with the organisation last year, I wanted to get involved myself. C-Art is Cumbria’s largest visual arts project; it began as an Open Studios event, whereby artist’s open their studios across the whole of Cumbria to the general public. Obviously I don’t have a studio though. So how am I involved? Well the project now coordinates ‘C-Art in Extraordinary Places’ as part of the trail. So I’m super excited to announce that I’ll be involved in the project as an Installation on the ‘Ullswater Shores’ titled ‘Looking for a Sign’. I am in the catalogue! I best get making! #edenarts #C-Art #ExtraOrdinaryPlaces
Once I’d collected a whole host of images from the holiday park, I started to think about the colours, shapes, composition and style my paintings were going to strive for. The sky became increasing more important to the outlook of the image- perfecting my watercolour skills, even in the reflection of the windows! Getting the perspective right was another key element to the success of the painting, teaming that with the light and shadowing of the detail was crucial. I played around more confidently as I developed the series; with trees, fencing, walls and mountain ranges. I used my artistic license to throw in some extras and cut out any unnecessary detail. I really enjoyed the challenge of these paintings. I’ve never made a series before, always preferring to do one piece and move on to the next. But I’ve noticed the real value in a series, there’s always more to be achieved and the skill involved can be enhanced each time. Plus they look absolutely amazing altogether! I’ve posted a few of the many images I took to show the progression of each painting. All my paintings are now on sale at Café Oswald’s, Penrith, Cumbria.
Small- £120, Medium- £170, Large- £220.
So here’s my latest set of works! I’ve been thinking about this idea for a little while now. During the exhibition at Greystoke the signpost suited it’s surroundings- being the place where my great-grandparents got married. However it always felt a bit restricted. A signpost should be outside, directing the way. Although I know it’s a metaphorical sign, I wanted to play around with it a bit and take it out on the fells and see how it photographed. If it looked silly at least I’d had a go! But I have to say I really enjoy the photographs! Some are stronger than others, some are merely on here to demonstrate my set up. But many are strong individual works. The post stands proud on the hills of Ullswater, looking out at where we live, the spot we plan to marry in and just beyond those hills the church my great parents married in, the great Cumbrian sign post is pointing the way to various mile stones in life. Which actually now I’ve just wrote that sentence, could be a good name for the works. Milestones.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the images shown above have been playing in my mind for a really long time now. Before making the piece for Greystoke I asked my grandma to see if she could find any photographs of my great grandma living in Cumbria. The photographs where so beautiful, and they were such a great source of inspiration for the piece. The one that really stuck out for me was this one above. My great grandma stood proud with her bike. With written detail on the back- Doris Watson (her maiden name) her first Bike. Bought by uncle Tommy Berrier £5. She looks about a similar age to me now. I felt a real connection with the photograph as I’ve recently gotten into cycling myself and bought my own first proper bike- which I absolutely love. I felt it only right to have my own proud bike photograph to match. I’m still unclear how I want to proceed with this set of images, I feel like there’s much more potential, just not sure what.
Another fantastic event I never got round to writing about was the C-Art Open Studios trail in September. I’d played a role in production of the event, (through some volunteer work I’d done at Eden Arts), so it was an exciting time for me see it come together. I could put a face to the names of people I’d been been selecting for Eden Art’s Facebook ‘Artist of the Day’ and faces to the names of all those bios I’d proofread in the catalogue. I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to as many as I’d like to have done, but it was an eye opener and something I’m considering participating in myself next year. Maybe not in the Caravan though!- maybe one of C-Art’s extraordinary places. Fingers crossed.
After all the hype surrounding the exhibition I never did get round to writing about the exciting events that followed. Firstly there was the opening night of the exhibition- which was a huge success. Despite my nerves, there was a crowd of people who came along to enjoy some great art, music, food and wine. I was able to meet the other artists involved- Christine Hurford, Janis Young and Caroline Dalton. It was great to explore the ideas behind their work. We all commented how the works complimented each other enormously. With all of us working in contemporary sculpture we transformed the 16th century church into a modern gallery space. Telling the story of the church in our own way. As well as the open night I also managed to get myself into the local paper! This was a really exciting time for me- I felt the photo really cemented my breakthrough into the Cumbrian art scene. The whole exhibition was a fantastic experience that motivated me to get making, meet new people, make my friends and family proud and exhibit in an extraordinary place.