Dorset Art Weeks 2024

From Saturday 25th May to Sunday 9th June studios and venues all over Dorset will be welcoming visitors. This year I will be joining textile artist Anne Reynolds in Corfe Castle at Sandy Hill Arts, next to the station.

This will be trip down memory lane because in 2001 I shared a cold damp studio space with Lizzy Induni and had a few fantastic years there along with Frances Pollard, the late Nick Crutchfield and recently passed Tony Viney. Together we set up the Boilerhouse Gallery which is still thriving, and with Tony I started Purbeck Art Weeks which runs annually in May, and the 8th Purbeck Film Festival.

Many artists and makers have come and gone over the past twenty odd years but it is lovely to see how the studios have expanded and with funding secured for the next three years, will continue to flourish.

Artist Talk

On Sunday 26th May at 3pm in the marquee I will be chatting about my artistic practice spanning over forty years, covering rather a lot of different materials and techniques but always with strong references to tactility and the hand-made. Like a magpie I've an eye for treasure be it a coil of rusty wire or a dried petal, gathering ideas for making which is at the core of my being. Likewise, techniques are collected manifesting into ideas fluttering around in my head, bolstered by a rather large collection of books. An informal analogue discussion in the round with examples to feel, hear and smell.

Private View

Following the talk from 4-6pm Anne and I will be hosting our private view to which all are welcome.

On Display

Alison Shelton brown Motley crew porcelain bird  Alison shelton Brown Clematis Lei porcelain    Alison Shelton Brown teabowl  

I will have some of my Motley Crew for sale, which is rather poignant as I first started making ceramic birds in the studio at Corfe Castle twenty two years ago. They seem to reoccur every ten years in some guise. These are more delicate yet still robust, studded with nails and wire indicating the perilous future of the bird population in the world now due to industrial farming methods and climate warming. 

The Clematis Lei are made of porcelain with sea twine found on local beaches. I wanted to recreate the delicate shadows the blossoms throw against walls. 

There will also be a large selection of unique hand-made porcelain and Egyptian paste beads which can be used to design your own necklace or bracelet. Along with porcelain teabowls and stoneware dishes.

Anne Reynolds

Anne Reynolds Dorset Art Weeks  Anne reynolds Dorset Art Weeks  Anne Reynolds Dorset Art Weeks

My first encounter with tapestry was close to a spiritual experience. By chance I had wandered into the Crane Gallery in central London in the spring of 1990. Showing was an exhibition of 20th Century Tapestry and my reaction to them almost brought me to my knees. My heart flipped and I felt a state of astonishment and awe. The designs were from the artists Arp, Miro, Motherwell, Davie, Delaunay, Calder, Picasso and others, and as much as I had admired their art in paint and sculpture form, in tapestry they evoked something else entirely.

Through good fortune I got a place at West Dean in West Sussex on their Tapestry Weaving Diploma. It was a year of blissful delight and discovery. However, conditioned as I was to not believing in a career as an artist, and having no aptitude nor desire to teach, I returned to business. A period of unemployment in the late 90s opened a way for me to take an Art Foundation course, followed by a degree in Contemporary Art Textiles, both in Cardiff. During my degree, at the turn of the century, I got completely caught up with digital design for textiles which was still in its early days. It was back to computers but that was fun and exciting in an entirely new way.

After spending some years as a freelance designer, mostly designing large scale pieces for retail visual display, as well as for rugs, textiles and wall-hangings, I returned to Dorset when my mother became terminally ill, staying on to help care for my father. After his death I started a greetings card company but fairly quickly became ill myself with CFS/ME a decade ago, leading to a number of years virtually bed-bound. This led me to the simplicity of stitching.

What I hope people might get from my work is an experience of warmth and curiosity. These pieces make me smile and I hope they might do that for others. What I enjoy about making them is having to work within the limits of the grid and discovering what might arise because of that. I enjoy the slow, methodical almost hypnotic activity of building the pieces. It’s a linear process and yet it’s not. I’m inspired by an inner dialogue of colour, shape and positioning which comes from a lifetime of observing nature, buildings, people, relationships and how they all might relate and interconnect in space and time, despite often seeming unconnected.

Because textiles absorb light rather than reflect as most other artworks do, they feel to me like an embrace, a welcome inwards, that calms and settles my sense of being, and my life experiences have led me to appreciate that invitation. You can’t experience that through photographs of the work, you really have to come and be in front of them directly.

And if that happens I hope people might feel their own inner smile, and maybe some of that ‘hallo’ of connection that I feel.

Anne Reynolds link

Dorset Art Weeks 2024

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