16th Burnham Art Trail
Saturday 20th June to Sunday 28th June 2020
Day 9 Sunday
Before we head off to Art on the Quay, we chat with Yvonne and other Burnham artists about their studios…
So why have a studio?
Well, as you probably know, art and the acquisition of art materials are addictive. A small box of watercolours and a couple of brushes can grow into tubes of acrylics, pencils, charcoal, pads of paper, glass jars, rags etc etc.
Where do you put it all?
After a while, cramming things into a cupboard and having to clear the kitchen table becomes tiresome and may even lead you to not doing much. So, a dedicated space is a really good idea and can range from a shed with an easel, to a cabin at the end of the garden, to a spare bedroom, or even a purpose built studio at the back of the garage…
So, how does having a studio help?
The most obvious advantage is to have somewhere to store your ever evolving stock of art materials – did I mention pastels, ink, pencil sharpener, specialist erasers, frames…?
But what else can you do?
Well, as Tracy Saunders says:
“Work can be left out, half finished, to be continued, rather than having to pack it away every night and you can make as much mess as you like.”
Or, as Pat Calver says:
“I play my favourite music , making a mess and trying out styles and new art media all seem to go hand in hand.”
Diane Roberts adds:
“My space allows me to paint, view my work from a distance and leave my materials in an organised mess!”
So, there are the first practical advantages but there are other, less obvious advantages as well. It gives me a place where I can concentrate and get away from the day-to-day.
Perhaps this is the most important advantage of all – the ability to cut yourself off from the washing up and hoovering. Leave your mobile on the kitchen table and just retreat to your studio for a couple of hours where your biggest decision are probably going to be about tone or shape or materials and you don’t have to think about Covid 19, utility bills or replying to your emails. Bliss!
So, down to basics –what do you need (and not need) in a studio.
Jeremy Hogben’s beautiful studio shows how important light is and having good access. However, he tells me that the spiral stairs are a bit of a nuisance.
Access is a term that can be applied to other aspects of a studio eg how you finance it. Most of the studios in this article are built at home but sometimes you may need to rent a studio. You should be very clear about the practicalities eg insurance, utility bills and lease.
Space is an obvious need. A room no bigger than a cupboard ie really not too helpful – it’s so good to spread out.
Water and electricity. You are going to need somewhere close at hand to clean up. Good lighting with several sources are really handy – you might want to paint a still life with shadows and highlights so a spotlight or table light is useful.
Good ventilation is another ‘must.’ Some materials can be a bit pungent eg turpentine which some artists use with oils. Even media which are supposed to be odourless can combine to produce a bit of a pong.
Practical furniture and storage are a real necessity. Stuff which won’t matter if you spill paint all over it.
Flooring is important too, especially if you are using a spare bedroom. Do you really want to be desperately trying to clean acrylic out of a carpet, or scraping oil paint off a rug? A bare wood or lino floor is probably best.
So, what I am saying is – think about what you need in your studio?
Diane Roberts said that her studio was either the spare bedroom or ‘the riverbank’. But it is really difficult to do some types of work when you are sitting on grass with the wind blowing, the rain falling and a friendly dog is snuffling his way through your carefully laid out paints. This is when a studio is so valuable.
Thank you to:
Pat Calver, Diane Roberts, John Green, Tracy Saunders, Jeremy Hogben, George Winder & David Kench
I have a studio in the Burnham Station House where I, and three other sets of artists have individual studios.
I had only just acquired it last September and it was heaven. Here is a picture of what it looked like then:
Burnham Town Council decided to temporarily close the building due to Covid-19 and have now informed the artists that it may be shut for another six months.
Sue is a self-taught artist and has painted all her life! She teaches small groups every week. She loves experimenting with different subjects and mediums. She loves to paint animals and give them character.
Burnham Creative Collective
We were due to participate with a community project in this years trail, alas this was not to be…
We are a group of likeminded adults who come together once a month at the Station House to spend creative time together, showing the artwork we have been working on, sharing skills and, of course, having a chat over biscuits and tea in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
We all use art as a medium for relaxation and experimentation whether we are beginners or accomplished artists, or at any level in between. The group has a diverse range of specialisms, ranging from drawing still life and portraits, felting, knitting, collage, sewing and painting to name but a few.
We use our time to explore new media, allowing every participant to volunteer to take the lead in a group activity whether this might be fine art or craft.
Examples of our work are regularly displayed on the boards outside the Station House.
Sharon works in mixed media with a special interest in lino cutting. She takes inspiration from the natural world, wool, fleece, soft textiles and recycled objects. Much of her work focusses on the sea.
At the start of this year, my travels abroad inspired mixed media collage, created from the throwaway items collected as I moved through other cultures and places so different from home.
Stuck in the Middle were due to join us at Art on the Quay so it’s time for a musical break…
Before we go, we are already think ahead to BAT 2021…
As we wind down we often get enquiries from people who would like to enter the Art Trail or return to exhibiting their artworks after a break. So here are some who we look forward to welcoming in 2021.
Although distracted by the current Lockdown, both Diane Roberts and her daughter, Sarah are looking to show their paintings; seascapes, landscapes and mixed media artworks by Sarah.
Jon Greaves, locally known as ‘Greavesey’ is not only creative as a musician but paints too. He is also hoping to join art trail artists in 2021 to share his art with the the many visitors to Burnham during our next trail.
Happy Memories from 2018 & 2019 Art on the Quay Events
Today we see the end of the Armchair Art Trail – which we hope you have enjoyed. Hopefully next year we will be back to the ‘new normal’ and we look forward to seeing you at the wonderful venues and at Art on the Quay 2021.
Day 8 Saturday
“I find the main benefit of an art studio is that I can walk away from my art work at any stage of it, without having to pack away and tidy up my art equipment. I can then easily start again from where I left off. It gives me a place where I can concentrate and get away from the day-to-day distractions.”
John enjoys the skill of creating a good composition that eliminates unnecessary detail giving his pictures a feeling of simplicity. Here he shows seven stages in creating one of his stunning watercolours.
Anne’s jewellery is inspired by shape, texture and colour. She enjoys the freedom of using fine silver metal clay, semi-precious stones and other materials, to create unique pieces of jewellery.
During Lockdown Anne has been busy ‘doing her bit’ in supporting the NHS by making and selling her pretty rainbow jewellery and keyrings.
I have lived and worked around Burnham since 1978. Now in semi- retirement I am taking delight in pursuing painting, a hobby that I have dabbled with for years and brings me joy. You can see more of Rogers work on Facebook.
Kitty has been inspired to create handmade screenprints and zines about a scandalous 19th century Foulness Island woman…
The Mysterious Maria Scratton of Prittlewell Priory
The Victorian portrait of Maria Scratton sparked my curiosity. Who was this woman in her fine red velvet gown, glistening jewellery and peacock feather fan? And why did people not approve of her? Her expression gives nothing away, but her clothes and jewels suggest someone who loved colour and fashion and fripperies – and someone who didn’t care if she broke the rules.
I started to research her life, and gradually formed a picture of a remarkable woman. Unlike her wealthy (and younger) husband, Daniel Robert Scratton, Maria was not a member of the landed gentry, or the middle classes. In fact, she came from a working class background, a humble blacksmith’s daughter, and grew up on Foulness Island – a remote and wild place at the time, where fugitives hid from justice, smuggling was rife and bare knuckle fighting was celebrated.
In the 1841 census, Maria was living with her family and working as a dressmaker, a lowly and gruelling profession. By contrast, Daniel was enjoying student life at Oxford, and in 1842, on the death of his father, inherited the Scratton fortune and lands, and became Lord of the Manor of Prittlewell. A hunter and sportsman, Daniel was clever, well respected and hardworking, but also cheerful, tall and handsome.
Daniel’s mother would have expected him to marry well, but instead he fell in love with Maria Thornton – a ‘nobody’ from a much inferior class, and from the infamous Foulness Island to boot. To add insult to injury, Maria was aged 27, two years older than Daniel, and firmly ‘on the shelf’ by standards of the day. His two sisters would have been mortified to have a mere ‘dressmaker’ introduced to their family as an equal, and no doubt, Maria’s family struggled to accept the changes to her social status.
1845 was a time of great prudery and snobbery, and marriage between the social classes was scandalous. People were meant to ‘know their place’ and stick to it, and some of the upper classes considered their servants too inferior to look in the eye. Probably to appease Daniel’s mother, his marriage to Maria took place in London, away from local gossips, and was not announced in the newspaper. For newly wed Maria, the changes to her life were immense. She had to learn how to manage a large household with servants, and how to dress and behave in accordance with her role as lady of the manor. To acquire these skills, and transform herself while surrounded by disapproval, took determination and bravery.
But Maria did not shy away from the public eye. There are reports of her wearing fine clothes and jewels while tearing about the locality in her yellow-wheeled barouche (a fashionable and luxurious horse-drawn carriage), and also of her galloping over the countryside on her husband’s favourite stallion. How tongues must have wagged! And how little she seemed to care!
It’s not known how Maria and Daniel met. In theory, their worlds wouldn’t have connected at all. But I do know, when the tide was out, Daniel rode over the treacherous Broomway to Foulness Island to shoot wildfowl, or to play cricket on the green. Maybe, amongst the locals, he noticed a strong and striking blacksmith’s daughter, gracefully going about her day. Not lowly or demure, not loud or coarse, but someone extraordinary, with an independent spirit, who looked him in the eye and held his gaze. I think he was captivated.
They were married for 56 years, until Maria’s death in 1901. Daniel died shortly after, in 1902. They didn’t have children, but by all accounts, they were very happy.
New to the Art Trail is David Kench, a self-taught artist. Although in his early years he did attend art classes to work in various media and improve his skills. He mainly considers himself to be a watercolourist but also works in oils, acrylic and pastels.
We have now completed our second Saturday, and are approaching the end of our virtual trail.
But we still have a busy Sunday ahead with a look at Artists Studios, community art and some music and memories from Art on the Quay.
Join us for our final day of the Burnham Armchair Art Trail at 10.30am…
Day 7 Friday
Lettering, patterns, crafts.
When I was asked to write something about the influence of photography, travel and the garden on my work in different media and/or something about my garden/studio I didn’t know where to start. Exactly how does photography and travel influence my work? Why do I even have a garden – or a studio (that was never in my plan)? In fact I never had a plan. So how on earth did my creative journey evolve? It took a bit of digging through the archives to find out but I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.
Although art was my favourite subject at school I don’t remember being any good at it, nor can I remember anything I achieved. A quick look at my old school reports shows that ‘I worked hard’, ‘continued to improve’ and ‘showed a lively interest’. That pretty much describes me now, over half a century later! Only three comments contained clues as to where my creative talents might lead me: ‘lettering shows progress’, ‘good craft work’ and ‘some pleasing pattern work’. It’s already starting to make sense.
The first record of my having produced anything creative was my beloved ‘Doodle book’ – a school notebook filled with patterns which I produced intuitively, probably inspired by the emerging pop culture of the 60’s. I have looked back through that many times over the years wondering ‘where did that innate talent go? and ‘how do I get it back? Writing this article has made me think I knew the answer all along!
As for crafts, I spent a lot of my childhood leisure time making things from kits. By far my favourite was Bayko – a bakelite building model construction kit, from which I developed a fascination with buildings. In the late 60s, I bizarrely developed an obsession with making Airfix cars. When, in 1968, I was interviewed for a job as a junior scientist at what was then known locally as ‘The Fisheries’ and was asked what my hobbies were. I mentioned the Airfix cars and added ‘I think I’m quite creative’. The response was ‘you won’t get a chance to be creative here’! However, I got the job (the idea of a mini-skirted 17 year old girl making Airfix cars was probably too intriguing) and spent the next 35 years pretending to be a scientist. I did surprisingly well considering science was the last thing I had considered as a career – but, looking back, I realise that my main achievements were where I had freedom to bring creativity into the task in hand. However, it also brought numerous frustrations on the occasions when I had managers who didn’t understand creativity and insisted that ‘we should do things the way we always have’.
One thing I did get out of my work at ‘The Lab’ was a husband! In 1972, Andrew and I married and bought the house which we still live in. Keen to learn to cook, I popped into the Crouch Press to buy my first cookery book. It was called ‘Round the World Cookery’. This was a real eye-opener for someone who had been brought up on traditional 1950s meat and two veg in a town which had yet to have its first ethnic restaurant. Before long I was obsessed with food and travel and, during periods when I was frustrated by work as a scientist, even dabbled at being a food and travel writer/photographer.
However, there was a problem with being an enthusiast of world food in 1970s Burnham – you couldn’t get the ingredients. The solution was to grow my own. We were lucky enough to have bought a house with a reasonably sized plot so I jumped on the ‘Good Life’ bandwagon becoming almost self sufficient in fruit and veg. It was fun for a while but I decided that, in our dry climate, vegetables were too high maintenance for me, especially when combined with cooking, travelling, writing (and work!) so I gradually switched to ornamental plants.
It took a while to learn how to get the planting right but, once I did, my creativity really kicked in. Then I got interested in garden design and, since the plants which did suit our dry climate were mostly from around the Mediterranean, this was the first style that I developed, inspired by a number of idyllic holidays in Andalucia. This led to an interest in water features, tiles and mosaics.
When we added some blue tiles to our pond and a garden tent in which to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset, visitors suddenly started describing the garden as ‘Moroccan’ insisting that I must have been inspired by the Majorelle gardens in Marrakech. I hadn’t even heard of them, let alone been there! However, I began to realise that many of the things that I was attracted to were connected to Morocco – one of the first dishes I cooked from my world cookery book was Moroccan couscous, the first place I visited abroad was Morocco, the tiles that I loved on my travels were of Moorish origin and I even bought a metal trellis without realising that it was Moroccan. In fact I first became attracted to Andrew when I heard him telling people about an adventurous trip he had just returned from in Morocco!
By now, my creative streak had really taken hold and during the 1980s designer knitwear era (remember those sheep and liquorice allsorts jumpers!?) I bought a knitting machine. This was the first time that I felt a real visceral passion for creating and I would spend all day at work creating patterns in my head, desperate to get home to turn them into punchcards and then jumpers. The knitting bug eventually wore off but not until I had created about 100 jumpers and taken part in a fashion show, as well as producing designs for the sweatshirt designer – Robert Norfolk.
By the start of the new millennium my interest in travel photography switched from still to video and editing films became my latest time-consuming enthusiasm. This led to me being asked to make a film of the Burnham Festival, better known as Riverfest, which took place each summer for about 15 years at the turn of the millennium. My film covers the period from 2000 to 2005 during which the festival was a whole month long and, as well as a wide range of music (in a wide range of venues!) included theatre, walks, gardens, food and exhibitions. If you read Tracey’s post you will see that in 2005 it also gave birth to the Art Trail. Keen to get involved, I offered my garden as a venue and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with a range of talented artists over the years. I would have loved to have something of my own to exhibit but, apart from the garden itself, this would have to wait awhile.
In 2003, I attended a stunning exhibition of Zimbabwean stone carvings at RHS Hyde Hall. I would have loved to have one for our garden had they not been huge and expensive so, when I found that they were offering a day course led by one of Zimbabwe’s top carvers, I jumped at the chance to learn to make my own. That day, on a shaded slope overlooking the lake, chipping away at blocks of stone was one of the best of my life and provided further confirmation that creativity was what made me happiest and that carving may be an outlet for it. So I did another course, brought loads of stone home with me and started carving. By 2014 I had enough pieces to enter the Art Trail. At last I was consciously making art – and people liked it! I loved having the goal of producing something for the Art Trail each year and, once the Zimbabwe stone ran out (and I needed a less messy hobby!), started experimenting with different media including photographic prints, found objects, computer parts and attempting to find my style in painting.
So what about the studio? The decision to replace our old garage with a utility room provided me an opportunity to design a building which would be in keeping with the Mediterranean/Moroccan/African style of the garden (remember that childhood love of Bayko?).This what we now call ‘The Studio’ which we open up each year for the Art Trail. However, I have never really used it for my creative pursuits (although the large butler sink is brilliant for washing paintbrushes!). My working studio is actually our loft which, apart from the garden, is my favourite place in our home.
We’d talked for years about getting a place abroad but had no idea where, other than that it had to be warm and by the sea. So one rainy day in 2006 I popped into a bookshop and chanced upon A Place in the Sun – a book based on the TV series in which each country listed was listed alphabetically. It wasn’t until I got to M that I realised what I should have known all along – Morocco! The first sample property listed was in the little coastal town of Essaouira and, although we hadn’t been there, suddenly it was obvious! Within months we had bought a pretty little apartment in the medina and, since then, I have discovered more creativity there than I ever imagined possible as well as learning new skills such as tadelakt (the polished plaster traditionally used for hammams).
So when I wanted some tiles to decorate the door of the garden studio I asked our friend Saïd to suggest a Moroccan quote which would suit our garden. He then translated into Arabic, got a calligrapher to design it and a tile maker to carve it ….
ان في وسط الدار حدائق و ماء رقراق
‘In the centre of the home there are gardens and bright clear water’
My art teacher was right – lettering, patterns, crafts!
Frances and Andrew have shared a video of their amazing trip to Festival in the Desert – watch this at the end of today’s post.
Jim paints and draws in a variety of media, producing work from his imagination and from the observation of different sources.
Lindsey is a botanical artist using coloured pencils to draw detailed images of plants and vegetation. She finds inspiration when out walking locally and likes to reflect on the changes seasons in her work.
Lindsey is new to the art trail.
Elizabeth finds inspiration for watercolours along the Burnham foreshore where tides and the effect of light are ever changing. Indoors, she might concentrate on the intricate design of an antique tea cup.
Original hand drawn designs crafted in recycled silver and gold with a balance of modern boldness and the delicacy of time-honoured making techniques.
You can see more of Sophie’s jewellery on her Facebook page.
Tessa works in oil and mixed media on a gesso board surface with techniques that include scratching the surface to give texture. Her inspiration is the landscape of Essex marshes, fields, hedges and scrubland.
Friday’s selection of artists and makers is done for today. So perhaps it’s time for some music and a change of scenery – Frances and Andrew have shared their experiences of Timbuktu and the 2005 Festival in the Desert…
Day 6 Thursday
Today we will start our tour by looking at trees with Marion.
“I’m a photographer, mixed media & glass artist, inspired by trees & the botanical world.”
Here’s a sample of Marion’s photographic collection from Dartmoor National Park including characterful gnarly moss covered oak trees of remote Wistman’s Wood & Black-a-Tor Copse.
Alex is a Creative Arts Therapist and an Intuitive Artist. She works with people to discover deeper connections and explore personal histories through the symbolism in the intuitive art they create.
Victor has been collecting vintage ancient beads for forty years. He enjoys combining them to make unique, interesting, wearable and affordable jewellery.
Jeremy is a retired artist/architect painting mainly in watercolour. He paints buildings, boats, landscapes in atmospheric surroundings. Next he tells us about his journey through art and architecture…
The design of spaces for living must arguably be regarded as the most complex of the Arts. The span of disciplines it involves touches all the senses and, at its best, fulfils our social needs.
My paths of influences and education led me into my career of architecture via Rugby School and Cambridge where I was lucky to be supervised by: Sir Leslie Martin (1908, 2000) noted for The Royal Festival Hall, Colin St John Wilson (1922 –2007) (The British Library), Nicholas Pevsner (1902 –1983) and others. Apart from all the practical and drawing elements of my degree course I was particularly inspired when my eyes were opened to the History of Art and Architecture, their interrelationships and in particular painting and sculpture.
For those keen to understand more it is impossible not to mention the multi-talents from the Renaissance period such as Michelangelo (1475 – 1564) and Raphael (1483 –1520), both were appointed architects of St. Peter’s in Rome. Also from the Renaissance were the pre-eminent painters Leonardo da Vinci (1452– 1519) and Brunelleschi (1377 -1446). Filippo Brunelleschi was the architect/engineer of the Duomo in Florence and renowned in 1417 for establishing the principles of perspective painting drawing which revolutionized painting.
Other great artists such as Pirenesi (1720 –1778), Caneletto (1697 – 1768), Claude Lorrain (c.1600 –1682), Turner (1775 – 1851), Thomas Girtin (1775 –1802), John Piper (1903 –1992) were also sources of inspiration and from ancient history the sculptor Phydias (c. 480 – 430 BCE) and Vitruvius (c. 90 – c. 20 BCE) who wrote the treatise ‘De Architectura’.
From a personal perspective I have vivid memories of completing a measured drawing of Wren’s Trinity College Library entrance portico and also lasting first-impression in 1956 of first visiting Kings College Chapel, resulting in a quick painting done on return to my college rooms. My love of painting was inflamed.
Also influential were vacation travels through France, Italy, Greece and Spain, including a memorable summer saying with Robert Graves (1895 –1985) in Mallorca. Later I painted alongside Ken Howard R.A in Venice and filled my sketchbook with paintings far more lasting than using a camera.
My 35 year professional career in London was spent designing houses, offices, banks, churches, telephone centres (including Mondial House) and many computer data centres (including the largest for HSBC).
I completed my pilgrimage from Jerusalem in 1934 back to the Clock Tower and the virtual Burnham Art Trail 2020.
Each individually crafted project is made using natural, carefully chosen materials.
This is the first time in Annie has been in Burnham Art Trail.
Leonida’s work is based on her own imaginative ideas. She hopes others see beauty in her work and they are inspired and influenced in a positive way.
Another tour of the Burnham Armchair Art Trail will start tomorrow morning at 10.30am.
Day 5 Wednesday
We are now getting to half way through the Trail and joining Kevin to share his appreciation all things wooden combined with his love of birds.
The Joy of Driftwood
At the beginning of this year we were very fortunate to spend all of February touring the South Island of New Zealand. Heading up the east coast towards Kaikoura the first beach we stopped at was strewn with driftwood. I thought then that I would need a bigger suitcase.
The quality of the driftwood is fantastic, mostly hardwood, solid, washed out, dried and bleached by the sun. Every shape, size and texture you can think of, from tiny bits right through to whole trees all ready to use. I decided at that first beach I would only take a few select pieces from each beach we visited but I still ended up with half a car boot full.
The west coast town of Hokitika host an annual Driftwood and Sand Sculpture Festival in January. When we visited there were still a few sculptures left standing. They were amazing. Created just from what’s on the beach on the day of the competition. We left our own mark on the beach in a big word ‘LOVE’.
The first piece I made on our return home was a whale made from a lovely piece of New Zealand driftwood.
My Favourite Birds
Wading birds like Curlews, Wimbrels, Avocets, Egrets and Herons are my favourite subjects to sculpt.
I try to use the shape of the tree branch to mimic the elegant curves and movement of the Heron and Egret, trying to capture a degree of animation to bring them alive.
Curlews, Wimbrels and Avocets also have interesting features in their curved bills, it makes them stand out from the crowd and always recognisable. Also the long legs all these birds have add a touch of elegance and brings elevation to the sculpture.
When I created the Grey Heron I thought I would experiment with a bit of colour. I quite like it, adds another dimension. So, I will use colour again probably. Birds of prey, or raptors as some like to call them, are my favourite birds but up to now I’ve found it hard to reproduce in my sculpture style. But I did have a bit of luck when walking the sea wall out on the marshes, I found a driftwood piece I liked the shape of. I twisted it and turned it and then it popped out at me – my first bird of prey, an Osprey poised to take a fish from the surface of a lake
Thoughts on “being an artist”
Lockdown has, to me, meant the chance to work more on my art without the pressure of having to produce finished pieces. This has allowed me to change my style to approach and produce work that is different and perhaps reflects my personality more.
Having more time in the studio has let me to sit and consider the next sweep of the palette knife, or the swish of the spatula, making free unrestrained movements across the canvas. I have used colours that I would not have chosen before with many more layers to my work, producing less tentative and more abstract art bringing a smile to my face.
My family call them Marmite pictures! Some love them, some hate them, but all look more closely than at any of my previous work.
Are they any good? I don’t know…
Will I show them? Maybe…
By playing with paint and techniques I have learned so much, not just about paint, colour and mediums but about myself and what excites and appeals to me as an artist.
Who am I and what do I want to be?
As artists we all adapt, adjust and change over time, this dreadful period of isolation from what we call normal has definitely allowed me to do this, perhaps at a faster rate than expected. I feel very fortunate to have had this time to reflect and play while others have been through hell.
It will not be wasted. To see a range of Jenny’s painting styles visit www.jennynewman.org
“I paint in the open air and in the studio. A fan of the impressionists, my paintings are inspired by the history, architecture and landscape of East Anglia and beyond.”
Working in wide range of styles, techniques and medium including drawing, painting, digital media including photography and sculpture.
Tracey’s series of images of St. Peters Chapel explores the traditional through to new media and the potential interaction between the two.
For more of her work visit www.traceymerrittart.com
Local, historical images are my inspiration. History and the recollections of times past, old photos of urban and rural life are the references for my social history paintings. I most enjoy working in oils.
Inspired by traditional stitch techniques, and with a love of nature, Julie incorporates recycled and ethnically sourced materials to her homely range of crafts.
We have now reached the end of another Armchair Art Trail post, so time to put your feet up and take it easy…
Day 4 Tuesday
Today we begin with a visit to Midge’s Studio…
“Ceramics, my influences & materials“
I first became personally involved in the making of ceramics in 2015 when I visited the studio of Catherine Dodds, an artist and ceramicist based in Wivenhoe. She had made a beautiful golden bowl that captivated and inspired me. From that time on I was determined to become a potter.
Ceramics are usually Earthenware, Stoneware or Porcelain. Each material requires clay to be shaped, fired and usually glazed. I personally work in Stoneware which means my pieces are fired to 1240°C making the pieces dense, durable and suitable for everyday life and usage (ovens, dishwashers, etc).
I like to sculpt as well as throw clay; the latter involves the use of a wheel whilst sculpting is by hand. When I started to throw clay I was told it would take seven years to become completely proficient so I still have another couple of years to go! Practise definitely helps with size and accuracy. When you produce a piece on the wheel you first have to ‘centre’ your clay, then you ‘open’ a hole and ‘pull’ the sides. Once you have your shape you lift it off the wheel and let it dry ‘leather hard’. Next you tidy and ‘trim’ the shape and let it dry completely. To complete the process the piece is bisque fired (I go to 950°C), glaze is then applied and lastly the whole piece is fired again at a final high temperature (in my case 1240°C).
Hand-built pieces often take even longer to create than thrown work as the drying process needs to be carefully controlled. Once clay has dried you cannot easily re-shape it. Also the forms must be hollow or else they will explode in the kiln.
I like to glaze all my pieces and experiment a lot with different colours as well as different clays. Some clays are very ‘groggy’ which means they have bits in them which makes the clay more robust, although it can also feel like sandpaper on your hands when the piece spins on the wheel. Finer clays tend to be smooth and often white, the finest of course being Porcelain. Clay can be tricky, it has a ‘memory’ so cracks and errors are quite common; sadly they often don’t appear until after the firing process.
Going back to Catherine’s golden inspirational bowl, creating this sort of glaze is very difficult. Not only is it toxic to fire but ‘lustres’, as they are called, are temperamental & expensive. This explains why I am still trying to make my own golden bowl. My latest attempt turned pink!
Many ceramicists eventually focus on a particular style/look/process but I still enjoy experimenting. I sometimes add elements like wood, rope or other materials to my pots or sculptures and I enjoy making tiny as well as large forms: for example pottery flowers or shells through to large composite forms like a whale.
It seems to me there are endless opportunities to experiment with ceramics: colour, form & function being the most obvious. Many people enjoy the science of clay & glazes, others focus on repetitive production skills, some like to hand-build whilst others like the symmetry of the wheel.
Making anything in clay can be a messy process and to be a studio potter you usually need your own wheel and kiln. I’m lucky enough to have both in my studio in St Lawrence Bay, as well as an understanding husband who tolerates me disappearing for hours, eventually re-emerging dusty, usually happy and always ready to try again.
Using the gang at Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary in Asheldham as inspiration, Ashlie creates bold digital prints. Other media and styles of artwork can be seen on her website: www.ashliegash.weebly.com
Living the Dream
I always loved jewellery. When I was in primary school, I used to make jewellery from paper fasteners, when I should have been learning my times tables! I dreamed of one day having my own jewellery shop.
As I grew older though I did not pursue a career in jewellery making as I was never confident with my skills at art and drawing and had always assumed I would need to have some drawing ability to study jewellery. So, it was not until I was in my mid-twenties that I started jewellery making at an evening class, just for a hobby. I quickly got the bug and took more and more short courses before going back to college to get my City & Guilds Diploma.
As soon as I finished my studies, in 2006, I moved into my first studio space near London Bridge and started my business as a designer/maker.
While working from my London studio I exhibited my work in jewellery and craft galleries and some of the most prestigious UK jewellery fairs, including in the British Museum and The Goldsmith’s Fair.
One of the many things I love about jewellery making is that the basic tools, hammers, saw frame, drills and workbenches have not changed in hundreds of years. I love the traditional techniques used to form and join metal and set gemstones.
I am hugely inspired by the materials I work with. I will design a piece of jewellery around a specific stone, letting the stone guide the direction of the design. Stone setting is one of my favourite skills as a designer/maker, it can be incredibly nerve wracking, especially with a valuable stone, but it is so satisfying when you have set your stone in a final piece.
One of the other great loves in my career is teaching. For the last 4 years I have taught at The London Jewellery School in Hatton Garden and I hold silver jewellery making classes in my studio here in Burnham. I enjoy passing on the skills I have accumulated and hopefully my enthusiasm for the medium and its traditions.
“I work primarily in oils and look to the wide horizon of the East Coast for my subjects.”
Wendy has been experimenting with various media and styles after a 20 year break from art and is now looking to develop a personal artistic style. This is her first Art Trail.
As a keen knitter Marianna enjoys making characters to enjoy and treasure. This is her first entry into Burnham Art Trail.
That’s all for today.
Our next post takes us to New Zealand with Kevin Harber and then looks closer to home with Jenny Newman and Steve Springall. We showcase another six local creatives…
Day 3 Monday
Well usually this would be a busy school day, so we’re starting with a slideshow of Burnham primary schools projects from Jean Webber.
“My passion is designing and making original gifts in fabric. I love to work with Harris Tweed, linen and liberty fabric to name a few.”
“Maybe my love of Harris Tweed goes way back into my past. I remember a kilt I wore when I was about six years old. I wasn’t overly keen on wearing a skirt… much prefer trousers, but the colour was a rich burnt orange which is still vivid in my mind today.
The famous Tweed was first woven in the 18th century by crofters in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is made from pure virgin wool, dyed and spun on these islands. The history is worth a read on the Harris Tweed authority website.
In 2016 on his return from working on the Isle of Skye my husband gifted me a bag of Harris Tweed off cuts… he earned some brownie points that day! I could hardly wait to begin creating.
Most of my projects begin at the table, usually while eating breakfast. Work begins as a doodle often on the back of an envelope. I progress to a pattern and then the boxes of Tweed are opened and there are several. Very little is ever thrown away. There are so many colours to choose from, once happy with combinations I’m ready to cut out and begin to sew each piece in its rightful place. I do actually get quite excited seeing a blank canvas come alive.
There are no best bits to this creating. I’m lucky enough to enjoy every stage.”
Sandra Hall is our next new artist…
Although this is Sandra’s first time in the Art Trail, she has been ‘creating with clay’ for the past 40 years. See more of her work on sandrahallceramicsunique.wordpress.com
Carol is a Painter and Stained Glass Artist
“I am continually inspired by nature, the world around me and the people within it, and I relish the endless creative possibilities it presents.”
Carol talks about her stained glass…
“I can completely indulge my love of colour with this wonderful medium in both realistic and abstract pieces, always striving to find new ways to present these traditional skills for people to enjoy in their homes.”
“My inspiration for my art work comes from learning about nature, working as a gardener and how we are a part of nature. I enjoy painting, drawing and print making.”
New to the Trail, Sarah’s work uses positive messages.
See more of Sarah’s work at
We’ve come to the end of today’s post, please join us again tomorrow at 10am for another browse of our talented artists…
Day 2 Sunday – Art on the Quay
Virtual Art on the Quay today…
This is generally a very busy day for us artists, especially Sue Spiers who does a brilliant job of coordinating the event now over the two Sundays. Keeping the creatives organised could be likened to ‘herding cats’. We certainly keep Sue on her toes.
Sue Spiers, is a regular visitor to Burnham Quay, usually spotted painting “en plein air” come rain or shine. Here she shares her journey in creating a garden watercolour.
Sue’s Step-by-Step slideshow
Let’s take a look at some of Sue’s paintings…
You can see more of Sue’s work by visiting her website suespiers.co.uk
Charlie Bran has been active in Art on the Quay for many years, demonstrating paper making and showing his distinctive linocut prints.
Charlie also runs papermaking workshops read more at facebook.com/charles.bran.9
The Silver Darlings
Time for a musical interlude with the Silver Darlings, for our favourite Essex sea shanties. For their latest news go to silverdarlingsshanty.co.uk
Meg & Clive
Meg & Clive would also have been joining us for the 2020 Art on the Quay – entertaining us with the traditional sounds of hurdy gurdy and fiddle.
Sam Milton is new to the Trail. She creates modern artworks and tableware. Each piece is completely unique.
Lucy runs Cowpat Pots and is member of Anglian Potters. Her ceramics are delicate and original.
Read about Lucy’s workshops on her Facebook Page
Mike Barter has taken part in many of our Trials over the years and was part of the very first one in 2005. He continues to make sculptures for the garden from natural and recycled materials.
Andy is new to the Trail and has been painting in watercolour for about two years.
The Craic Heads
We’ll end with some more music, this time from The Craic Heads facebook.com/CraicHeadsBurnhamOnCrouch
We’ve come to the end of our first Art on the Quay Day. Usually at this point we pack up and head for the White Harte for a beer or two. Oh happy days!
Join us for Day 3 on Monday… now let’s get that beer…
Day 1 Saturday
To kick off we start with Tracy’s most recent watercolours.
To see more of Tracy’s work click here
Shona takes a closer look at our local environment, with her still life studies.
Jean shows her paintings then takes you on a tour of her delightful garden and studio in the second video.
Saskia Maeve Tunbridge-Davies
Saskia is new to the Art Trail. She makes slip-cast ceramic coffee ware using local Creeksea Clay.
Tors designs and makes at her home studio where she enjoys experimenting with colours and textures. Using both free machine and hand embroidery she creates unique accessories and framed ‘threadscapes’.
Painting bold and semi-abstract reflections of nature, Nicola has joined us for her first art trail in Burnham.
We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s artworks. There will be more art to view on Sundays post which focuses on our Art on the Quay event…
2020 Virtual Art Trail Launch
Coordinators of the Burnham Art Trail, Triss & Sharon, invite you to enjoy the official 2020 opening from the comfort of your very own armchair!
Welcome to the very different 2020 Armchair Art Trail…
When we cancelled the trail this year we actually didn’t realise how long the lockdown would go on for and we were hoping we could run ‘something’ in the autumn but alas it became clear as time went on this wasn’t going to happen.
So, the trail will run on our Facebook and Instagram sites over the same time as our usual trail. This is a good point to say A BIG THANK YOU TO THE VENUES who came forward to support us before we had to cancel. We very much value their support and hope they will join with us next year.
We hope you enjoy the artwork, interesting articles, videos and lots more. If you would like to purchase any items please contact the artist directly.
Tracy Saunders recounts how it all began
The first was a beautiful sunny day in June 2004 as I sat on the grass at Millfields with my two young sons, enjoying the music at Riverfest – Burnham’s very own “International Music Festival”. I reflected on not only how lucky my family and I were to live here in Burnham-on-Crouch, but how great Riverfest was in bringing a variety of good music to everyone – and all for free!
The second seed was sewn four months later when I saw an article in the Maldon & Burnham Standard highlighting the need for a public relations person to help rejuvenate the high street and bring more people into Burnham.
I thought that what Burnham needed was an art event, one that encouraged people to walk around, to enjoy what the town had to offer, and that was free to everyone.
So, I started to talk to different people – I visited Richard Baxter, an artist/ceramicist, at his studio in Leigh-on-Sea. Richard had set up the Leigh Art Trail eight years earlier and was enthusiastic and happy to share his knowledge.
I also spoke to Jane English, one of the organisers of Riverfest. We discussed how hosting an art event the week before Riverfest could possibly help entice a wider audience for Riverfest.
I then walked around the town, looking for suitable venues and visiting shop owners to find out how they would feel about giving up their window space for one week to show the work of a local artist. I also went to see Henry Potton at The Burnham Museum – I had recently exhibited my own paintings there along with another painter, Claudia Myatt. It was a great venue and the museum volunteers were so helpful, enthusiastic and cooperative. So, based on the success of that exhibition I was keen for the museum to be become the main venue for a Burnham Art Trail.
With the help of some funding from Maldon District Council and Burnham Town Council we were able to prepare some promotional literature and advertisements to announce that the first Burnham Art Trail would start on the 25th June, 2005, lasting for one week, culminating with Riverfest International Music Festival on the final weekend.
There where 19 artists and just 16 venues and, oh how it has grown! It was a wonderful week that has continued to be to be repeated in a variety of formats over the past 15 years.
Five of the 19 artists who exhibited in that first Art Trail are still exhibiting today.
Riverfest – back in the good old days!
Thank you for joining us for our Armchair Launch. We will post our first selection of artists for 2020 starting Saturday 20th June at 10.30am…
Hope we’ll see you again…