Well, since this is intended as a way to help me think in more structured terms about my practise as a painter and printmaker (rather than just wandering in to my studio and forgetting the world), I’m going to start this blog with an introduction to my studio and its environs. I’ve always been drawn to artists who paint the way they see the world — with honesty and faithfulness to their own vision (in every sense). For that process to work, for me, my environment is paramount. In the second year of my degree my cohort was moved into a city-centre studio space – a great studio, but a long way from the countryside that has always been the source of my work: I paint organic things, forms, shapes, objects: I can’t live without green! I spent a miserable year weaving and knitting wooly hats – anything but painting; it made me realise one thing – that wherever I am, the space I work in, and the space around it will always be reflected in my work. In fact, in my ability to work.
So first, my studio.
I studied fine art at Bretton Hall (before it became part of the University of Leeds, who seem to have milked the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park site for all they could get). Straight after leaving I acquired a very functional studio in Bingley, North Yorkshire. We lived on a narrowboat at the time and my husband was studying at the University of Leeds, so this suited us – it was big, cheap, and very very industrial. A far cry from YSP! After about a year, though, we were enticed to Holmfirth by the fabulous Debbie George, whose beautiful gallery Sanderson George and Peach was still open. We bought a place (literally) under the gallery and I rented a big, gorgeous studio from Bee. My husband’s job, though, brought us to Kent in 2004. In our first house we built a shed at the end of the garden, but then we moved to a ’20s house, virtually untouched by the modern predeliction for plastic (or central heating or fitted kitchens for that matter), and we built a wooden lean-to on the back of the house. After 18 months of squish, I finally booted hubbie out this year (he has a cubby-hole desk on the landing now, what more can he want?) and there you have it – this is ‘home’!
I’ve always been a gardener and am deeply affected by what’s around me, so although the house is falling down around our ears (literally in some cases – our first meal here we sat listening as panes of glass fell out of the porch!) we have concentrated on the garden. I tend to grow things I like to paint and paint things I like to grow. Don’t be surprised if there are a number of future posts about the garden… and the house – they’ve both been such major projects!
So this is where we are: a village-like appendage to Deal, a seaside town in East Kent, with one foot still in the past. Those that know me know that I’ve been keeping a low profile in recent years due to ill health, but that’s changing now (hence this blog). I’m back painting, and am also making collage pieces and prints. I’ve started a little printing business called Pod Press with my friend Ruby Green and we’re making badges, lino-cut prints and cards, and are printing on fabric. There’ll be more posts about Pod Press in the future, but to see more of my recent work, visit my website: www.joaylward.co.uk