This Sit Down Sunday we are delighted to be joined by local artist Beverley Coleclough. Beverley's work was featured in our recent Wigan Open Exhibition in the Isherwood Gallery.
The great thing about these interviews is getting to know more about the incredibly talented local artists that we have here in Wigan, Thank you Beverley Coleclough for joining us today, lets start by introducing yourself to our readers.
I was born in Wigan and went to Wigan School of Art for 4 years and was in the last year to do the NDD in the UK. My mother also qualified at the same Art College and I seemed to have inherited some of her artistic abilities too. I covered all the four craft areas of fabric printing, ceramics, etching and lithography as well as my specialism in Painting, which came in handy in later years when I worked in the Theatre and later teaching in Schools and Art Colleges.
Your artistic ability seems innate to you, working across multiple mediums so easily, tell us how that came to be and more about your previous work and artistic experience?
In the mid 60's I moved to London to work for a several puppet companies making and performing both in London and on tour; and until the early 70's I also worked for the National Theatre and Keswick Mobile Theatre making scenery and props. I even made my own collection of marionettes and shadow puppets.
Throughout my teaching life I always maintained a steady work routine of my own, using any spare time to build and exhibit a collection of work, including life-drawings, and also started on experimenting with papers to build up collaged pictures. I took a 6 month sabbatical from lecturing, to work in Alice Springs in central Australia, and produced a collection of over 50 large paper works.
At that time I also started a whole series of paintings on canvas on the same theme of the central desert and continue until the present day.
Running alongside the ‘Desert’ theme I also work on a contrasting series of artwork based on the ‘Sea’ after an artist residency in Albany, south of Perth in Western Australia. There are two of my paintings covering both of these themes in the last exhibition at the Old Courts. The third piece currently on show is a comment on the denuding of the landscape in favour of building massive housing estates.
What influences your work?
I have always found colour to be one of the most important factors in my work and I may start off an idea based on a particular colour, or combinations of colour, to begin with. I try to return to work in Alice Springs every two years and am a member of the Craft Centre, where I learnt to do wet-felting and natural dyeing from very talented residents. I still do some work in felting working with merino and mixed wool and recently started a small project on felted vessels, but this is still in the early stage. There is still so much to learn and do. I think that the day you don’t learn something you’d have to be dead?
I always try to have materials ready and I'm very organised, unlike the romantic idea of artists working in a messy work space and being disorganised. I’ve already stretched and prepared six large canvases in case I decide to develop another painting and may have several pieces on the go at the same time, including felted work or paper collage. I can move from one project to another whilst waiting for paint to dry etc. The secret is to have enough different work available, a luxury for many artists who usually have to work on the kitchen table. Luckily now I’m retired, I have my own studio and plenty of work space. Now I can work any day I like and any time I like, if I want to add something to a painting at 2 am, there’s nothing to stop me. When I was working, it’s amazing how much I didn’t manage to squeeze in-between all the hours of preparing for classes, writing reports etc.
What does your usual Sunday look like?
I’m an associate member of Cross Street Arts in Standish and try to keep up with what is going on there. Occasionally, however, I have to take time out to think my own thoughts and clear my mind of clutter, I bit like meditating and emptying the mind.
Do you have any upcoming projects or things you would like to do?
I’m now doing a spot of experimenting with a small project for a member’s exhibition the Craft Centre in Alice Springs in February, and hoping to get some work ready to post in the new year. Sometimes an outside project is very refreshing and opens you to new ideas.
What's your views on the arts scene in Wigan?
The creation of an Arts/Performance Centre at the Old Courts is brilliant innovation and a boost to the morale of creative people and public alike in this area. There are few opportunities for artists, musicians and performance in the town and we often have to venture much further afield to have our work seen. We are all thrilled at the success of this first Open Exhibition and I, for one, was ‘gob-smacked’ at the turnout on the preview night. I’ve been to many previews over the years but never seen such a tightly packed venue as this one. All credit to Jess Rotherham and her team for such a successful venture and hopefully many more to follow.
Thank you Beverley for speaking to us about you and your incredible work, we are always fascinated to learn more about the people behind the artwork. We hope we get to exhibit your work again in our Isherwood Gallery. Thank you for taking part in our Wigan Open Exhibition too.
You can check out more of Bevereley Coleclough's work on her website by clicking here
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