Could I be the next Young Cumbrian Artist of the Year?

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

C-Art in Extraordinary Places

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

Robyn Woolston’s Watchtree

After reflecting upon the images I’d taken out on the fells, I was reminded of a series of works I’d seen years ago by Robyn Woolston. The first summer I moved up to the lakes I can remember walking down by Ullswater and being pleasantly surprised to see some contemporary art right on my door step. This series of work has a distinct likeness to mine, as it features a similar use of signs. I admire that Woolston’s signs emerge right from the trees themselves, making incredible photographs; this is something I could play around with myself in the future perhaps? The artist here is interested in the use of language displayed on the signs. Written in Old English, she points out the surrounding nature. I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the works when I originally saw them, the Old English didn’t engage, it puzzled it’s audience who in turn dismissed it and spent little time with the work. However if Woolston had instead opted to write Modern English this wouldn’t have achieved much either? These are the types of things I need to be considering with my use of dates. Are they too personal or can I achieving just enough mystery in the work?

To check out Robyn Woolston’s Canopy Project check out these links:

The Canopy Suite, Watchtree and The Canopy Suite, Archive


C-Art Open Studios

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.

Cumbrian Artist of the Year 2015

I was asked by Eden Arts to write a review about their latest show so here it is!CumbrianArtistoftheYear

Cumbrian Artist of the Year

25th April 2015 to 28th June 2015

Walking into the space on the top floor of Rheged’s award winning visitor centre, I immediately began to look for a theme surrounding the artist’s work. However, be it that the nature of the exhibition is searching for Cumbria’s Artist of the Year, it doesn’t allow for a running theme between artists. The work varies. Its Cumbria’s crisp of the crème. The exhibition shows its visitors that contrary to popular belief not every artist in Cumbria is painting their neighbouring landscape.

This notion is no more present than in the winning artist- Sarah Tew. She may not be subscribing to the traditional landscape painting, but her work is never far away from her roots in Cumbria and its remarkable backdrop. Tew was selected by an expert panel, one of which (Rory Stewart MP) observed this of her work- ‘the winner offered a fresh and engaging take on how we interact with landscape, and I am sure will create a strong reaction from local people.” Tew’s two pieces ‘Blade Printing’ and ‘Stone Mould Series’ on first inspection could easily be dismissed. Being the only floor work, they both demand the space, yet I imagine, often get overlooked by the general public. ‘Blade Printing’ especially, as I watched people walk by dismissing it as a small patch of lawn. Many it seemed thought Tew’s work ostentatious and unworthy of the prize. Ultimately though it was her concepts and wider contemporary practice that made her stand out. Mark Devereux, another of the selection panel, confirming- ‘Sarah Tew is an upcoming artist, her work both within this exhibition and also within her wider practice, displays a deep routed interest in interrogating the rural landscape. Encapsulating both an aesthetic but also a conceptual framework to her practice, we feel she is not only a worthy winner of the Cumbrian Artist of the Year Award but hope this will enable Sarah and her ongoing practice to flourish.’

Not everyone though seemed to agree with this statement. The general public didn’t buy into Tew’s patch of grass becoming a work of art, they desired the skillful and atmospheric work of Alan Stones. Echoing this in feedback- “Alan Stones work is magical and looks at landscape in an insightful way. He should have won the prize. I found Sarah Tew’s work pretentious nonsense.” With an outstanding number of votes- Stones was the People’s Choice winner. He blew the public away with large canvas paintings, displaying incredible talent and just enough narrative to entice his viewer. The painting’s compare with former Turner Prize nominee George Shaw. Particularly his piece ‘Clearing’, in this work he captures an eerie setting, a peopleless painting of a deserted forest. This piece is timeless, without a figure it’s freed from any time or any place. Whereas in his adjacent painting; ‘At Low Tide’, he twists this concept- a figure is present at the forefront of the painting, carrying with him a narrative and something for the viewer to ponder.  It’s these large scale paintings that captivate Alan Stones’ audience. His smaller portrait in the exhibition ‘Father and Son’ is dwarfed by these paintings, so much so I would have thought to leave it out in order to focus on the two prominent landscapes.

So who was my Cumbrian Artist of the Year? I noted earlier that this exhibition diverged away from the common place belief that not every artist in Cumbria is painting their neighbouring landscape, and yet still, I’ve predominately wrote about two artists who are very much influenced by Cumbria’s unforgettable location. My shortlist of artists however have resisted the urge to divulge in this subject matter and confronted other subjects close to my heart- time, place and people. On the wall opposite Alan Stones paintings was my favourite space in the exhibition. To the left was a huge acrylic painting by Alison Critchlow. I was drawn to the painting to inspect the brushstrokes and the remarkable textures of paint. Critchlow’s subject matter being wholly different from the Cumbrian landscape the title explaining this- ‘Drifting Iceberg’. To the right were three small oil paintings, framed by white wood, they narrated scenes of a typical British home, the title informing the viewer that this place was ‘Sandringham Road’. Sandringham Road allowed it’s viewer a brief glimpse into what I suspect is the artist’s home. A real tribute to the notions questioning private v public. My Cumbrian artist of the year however is awarded to Beatrice Hasell-McCosh. I nearly missed McCosh’s extraordinary piece, an unusual fabric piece, the floral fabric is mounted onto canvas and worked into with oils. Drips of paint and a subtle painting of what appears to be a steeple is unassumingly painted onto fabric. The work creates a time and place of its own, it evokes the memories of the Artist and allows the viewer to input their own- be that in Cumbria or elsewhere.


There’s still a lot swirling round my head about being in The Lakes and the swings and roundabouts of life but just as a last blog post for today I wanted to share my exciting news that I’ve started a new volunteering venture with Eden Arts- working currently on the C-Art project. I’ve only been there two weeks and already I feel a huge sense of achievement. At the moment I’m helping out with the social media and blog aspect of the project. Learning the ins and outs of programs like Hoot-Suite; setting scheduled facebook posts and tweets. But for me the real value of this experience is getting back out there, learning new skills, meeting new people, finding out that Cumbria actually does have quite a lot going on art wise and most importantly reminding myself that art jobs are available nationwide and I can do this!