March is a wonderful month for me because as well as celebrating two of my favourite people’s birthdays (husband and daughter) it’s also been International Woman’s day, mothering Sunday and the month of #meetthemaker so I thought what better time to open up to you all and give a bit more insight into who I am. Over on Instagram, the hashtag #marchmeetthemaker sees thousands of interesting craft’s people give and insight into their world. It’s a successful project run by @joannehawker who has created a month’s worth of daily prompts to get your social media inspiration going. Having taken part in the challenge for a few years now I’m completely hooked. I love thinking about how I portray myself through my Instagram feed, for me it has become another creative outlet. Following the hashtag is a great way to find and follow new people and build a community. I was sitting brainstorming ideas for each prompt (see below) and I thought I would love to write a blog that encapsulates the essence of #marchmeetthemaker and that expands on some of the key questions to give more detail into what I do and why…
The categories this year are:
So...WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY?
Who are you?
I am a woman in my thirties. I am an artist, a maker, a writer, a thinker. I am married and have three (beautiful) children, who are by far the best leaf finders I could employ. Becoming a mum whilst trying to maintain my identity as an artist is hard. However the hardship is mostly in my own mind and how I balance guilt and responsibilities with the time and space needed to make work. However, I am finding that since having the children my drive and focus is this sharpest it’s ever been. Time is so limited I feel a sense of urgency which was lacking before, I don't feel I can idle my time away like before children. I can get so much done given three hours child-free because honestly, you never know when the next bit a ‘free’ time will come. It’s definitely a 'now or never' attitude to life, which I feel has impacted on my work in a positive way. This freelance artist lifestyle suits me and my family, it allows me to be both a hands on parent and a creative which is a great balance to have and I feel very lucky. In free time/family time I like to visit National Trust properties, we are lucky to live near Tyntesfield which has beautiful grounds we can spend hours in collecting up treasure (leaves sticks and stones). I love a cup of tea, or even better, a pot of with a friend. I like chatting, I've always been employed in customer service roles because I really love talking to people. This is something I find particularly enjoyable about working my market stall. I like visiting museums and art galleries, I especially like obscure, specialist collection museums. I am most definitely a cat person, we have been approved for adopting a new feline member of the family- so exciting, watch this space (this development will be all over Instagram when it happens!).
A random fact about me; I ran the London Marathon in 2008 as a 'pub bet'. I didn’t run before and I haven’t run since but it was an amazing experience. This came about because of my general attitude of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ which has got me quite far in life with some amazing experiences and memories.
What do you make
I am the maker of ‘beautifully scratched things’ (I really love the term maker, it crosses the boundaries of artist and craftsperson nicely).
I use pyrography to burn/melt drawings into painted canvas. It’s a craft tool similar to a soldering iron but with more refined tips I can draw with. It’s the sort of thing that is used to decorate wooden spoons and boxes and is also known as ‘pokerwork’. Using it on a painted canvas leaves behind a textured, scratchy surface. I use a primed white canvas as the surface to draw with the pyrography iron, it can take around 4 weeks to make a large-scale work. The process is slow and meditative. The drawing process is important to me which is why I don’t use lasers at the moment as I draw an understanding of the thing I'm observing emerges. It also allows for spontaneity, mistakes and all.
In the last year or so I have been developing techniques for glass engraving. I use a Dremel engraver to draw on to the surface of the glass. It uses vibration to scratch the surface of the glass. I’ve used this to make smaller decorative pieces for the home but recently I have started on an installation work with a circle of glass which is allowing me to explore the technique and processes nicely. I really like playing with the boundaries of craft and contemporary art.
I mostly draw leaves and feathers, which seem to offer up so much variation in line and form. I use them to make connections with the landscape, nature and memory.
Where in the world?
I am a west country girl through and through, I grew up in Plymouth, Devon and now I live in Bristol, where I have lived since I graduated from Bath Spa University in 2007 (can you see, to me, Birmingham is up North!) I am greatly inspired by nature but have an affinity with city living, perhaps that's why I like the more degraded beauty of discarded feathers and leaves I find on the city streets rather than the epic beauty of the countryside landscape. The South West suits me as I can live in the city centre but still be able to access some amazing countryside and coastlines, it really is the best of both worlds for me. Plus, have you heard how cool Bristol is? I love this place.
I am lucky to have studio at BV studios in Bristol, I have been here since the beginning and have seen it evolve into an amazing creative resource. I work from a beautiful, skylight lit corner of the warehouse, alongside over 100 other artists and creatives. We have our annual open studios on the weekend of the 20th April 2018. BV is such a hub of creativity please do come by and say hello. Check out the website www.bvstudios.co.uk for more information.
Why are you an artist?
I have always enjoyed being creative and I love visiting art galleries and museums, however, my life nearly took a very different turn. After my A levels I was offered a place to study Health Science at York University. I struggled to feel excited about this move and decided to take a year out to just have fun with being creative (without any sense of direction or ambition). I did a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Plymouth College of Art. This was a year that opened my eyes to the potential of doing a creative degree and I am so glad this is the way my life went. I studied Fine Art at Bath Spa University. I genuinely loved every minute of this bohemian student lifestyle. After graduation I worked for Arnolfini and Bristol Museum in front of house and Development positions and somehow kept on making work in my spare time. Bristol has an amazing cultural scene, it's easy to access interesting art and music and I am lucky to be friends with lots of creative people who have inspired me to keep on making. I continued my education by doing a Masters in History of Art at Bristol University, this was to pursue my passion of interpreting, writing and experiencing visual art. It was a new way of looking and speaking about artwork in comparison to m applied art undergrad. It has propelled me forward into making new work and conceptualising it within a broader art historical context.
When can we see your work?
Recently I opened my Etsy shop; TheCorbeauPress, it sells my cards and small glassworks. The shop name comes from my married name, Corbet and its French origins for the word for Crow. I look forward to making this into a success in the next year or two adding more interesting hand crafted things.
I will be at the Tobacco Factory market on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 May 2018 for the Southville Arts Trail (more information here: http://www.southbankbristolarts.co.uk/)
My next big project is my exhibition with artist and Bath Spa Alumni, Jemma Grundon. The Space Between is going to allow me the opportunity to explore the relationship between the glass work and my canvases.
I the mean time find me on Instagram for regular updates and more insight into who I am and what I do…@jessbartlett_artist