Studio 3 at Clevedon Craft Centre

Studio 3! How have I not written about this wonderful place before now? Especially as when I set up the website, promoting art was one of my priorities! Added to this, I feel as though I know it really well because I’ve made so many beautiful purchases there and it is such a unique place which ticks all the boxes for me!   

Set in the picturesque surroundings of Clevedon Craft Centre, this relaxed, contemporary space is home to a group of resident artists who host a regular number of guest artists which means there is always something fresh to look at.  They exhibit an eclectic mix of paintings, prints, ceramics, clocks, photography, batik lampshades and cushions, fused glass, wood-turning and cards. It is an absolute cornucopia of delights!

This gorgeous space was established by artists Gail Clarke and Lucy Hepworth in 2019. Gail has been a practicing artist for twenty-eight years and on retiring from dentistry undertook a three-year degree course “Contemporary Art and Business Studies” which she has just completed.

Gail experiments with ideas using her own source material, manipulating images digitally until she feels inspired with the shapes and colours. She then uses the results to make prints or to create simple minimalist shapes using multi-media and acrylics. Check out Gail’s work here www.gailclarke.co.uk

Lucy was an art therapist and is a practicing artist living in Portishead. Using a wide range of materials, her two- and three-dimensional work is inspired by her love of books, animals, and concern for the environment

I was interested as to Gail and Lucy’s motivation and Gail explained:

We wanted to set up a comfortable and affordable working studio space for a community of artists. We also wanted a professional looking gallery for those artists to exhibit their work. We were particularly keen to facilitate exhibition space for work from students, beginners and people using art to recover from mental illness.”

Gail added:

Lucy and I are just passionate about the gallery and especially providing artists with affordable space and minute commission costs; we feel strongly that many artists are penalised by huge gallery costs/commissions and we are very keen to make this small rural gallery worthy of their faith in us. Artists pay only 10% commission, 2% of which pays the iZettle card payment costs.

Most galleries charge 40–50% average so this really is very impressive and reflects Lucy and Gail’s commitment to their vision. One of the reasons that they are able to keep the commission so low is that all aspects of the gallery are run by the artists themselves who between them have a wealth of transferable skills. There are also no staffing costs because although they are currently open Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and Sunday from 11.00 am to 4 pm, all staffing comes from within the team.  

The fact that the artists themselves are in situ talking about their work and that of their peers is a real plus for me.  I want to hear their story, learn about their creative process and be able to ask questions. I love their raw enthusiasm which is contagious and means that I rarely leave without a purchase.

Given their commitment to community and inclusion, I was curious as to whether Studio 3 had links with other art organisations in Clevedon which of course they have. Gail and Lucy are both long-standing members of the Clevedon Art Club and Gail herself used to be on the committee. Several of the Studio 3 family are also members and the Studio exhibit many of the members work and keep their eyes open for future exhibitors. The Art Club in turn put our information on their website. http://www.clevedonartclub.co.uk.I was lucky enough to spend an evening at Clevedon Art Club prior to doing a blogpost on them which you can read here:  https://bit.ly/3hjZ20K

Studio 3 artists have exhibited both at Clevedon Pier and at the Curzon Cinema and would be very interested in expanding their network and collaborating with these two iconic organisations and indeed others who share their passion for art and community.

I wondered how the closure of galleries and arts organisations due to the Coronavirus and lockdown had impacted on the group. Happily, they had government help which allowed them to suspend rents and allow studio space to those artists whose mental health depended on being able to use the space whilst shut to the public.

The whole issue of art, creativity and mental health during lockdown has been very interesting and sparked much debate. Georgina Chatfield, Senior Programme Manager of the RSA Academies commented on the significance of the public display of rainbows at the very start of lockdown.

“Created by children to support the NHS and care workers, these little bursts of joy created instant community on our streets. Families came to together to express compassion with a symbol of hope.”

She noted the increase in arts and creativity across the country, subjects which traditionally struggle to find a place on the curriculum. She felt that lockdown gave us the chance to recognise their value particularly in terms of our social and emotional wellbeing.

I would go as far as saying that creativity thrived during lockdown, with children and adults engaging in a diverse number of creative activities other than reading and writing, which helped to process feelings, reduce stress and anxiety, and give a sense of purpose.

Gail and Lucy certainly recognise the powerful contribution of art and creativity to emotional and social health and describe it as one of the driving factors in setting up Studio 3.

Let me now introduce you to the remaining artists who make up the Studio 3 team.

GREG HUNT

Greg is a civil servant and is great at helping the studio with anything like rates and taxes.  He studied art at the Bristol School of Art obtaining his HNC. Everyone at the studio was delighted for Greg when he was selected for the RWA this year. Greg mainly works on very detailed drawings based on photographs but with a keen interest in collage and geometric abstract art. This photo shows him standing proudly at the RWA in May.

Greg always says:

 “To misquote Isaac Asimov, I am an Archaeologist by training, an Artist by intention and a Civil Servant by accident!”

SIMON WILLIAMS

Simon loves to work with his antique cameras to produce astonishing images of beauty and intrigue, often using alternative processes such as Cyanotype for producing the final print.

Always on the lookout for an interesting and appealing image Simon also uses digital photography to capture what he finds and sees.

Gail was adamant that she would not be able to manage the Studio website without Simon!

Check out his work here: www.oldparson.art

ANNA FINDLAY

Anna began working with glass in 1992 after leaving her work as a childcare social worker. She attended classes at Queens Road School of Art and Design in Bristol, where she was taught the traditional leaded glass technique.

Over the years Anna has combined her glass-work with part-time social work, counselling and student mentoring. Now retired, she is focussing on glass-work as well as developing her interest in painting, including Indian miniatures (perhaps a reflection of her partly Indian origin).

Facebook page: Anna Findlay – Stained, painted and fused glass.

JOHN POPE

Clevedon potter, John Pope, designs and makes a wide range of affordable ceramics including exclusive wall, mantle and pendulum clocks, stylised creature figures, decorative vases, bowls and dishes and more. Working mainly with stoneware clays his work is tactile, expressive and lovingly crafted, often influenced by the style and geometry of Art Deco forms and the natural world. He has exhibited widely in the west country and has sold pieces to many overseas visitors. He has been an invaluable member of Studio 3 helping with the impossible tasks that need tenacity!

John has also worked very hard for the Clevedon Art Club and North Somerset Arts over the years.

CLAIRE SELLERS

Claire is a printmaker/artist who takes inspiration from the sublime and the natural world, and enjoys experimenting with all forms of printmaking including etching, monoprint, collagraph and screen-print. Claire joined the Studio 3 team more recently to take the place of well-known local artist Joan Hudson.

Claire is on Instagram @claire. printmaker

NB JOAN HUDSON started out with Gail and Lucy as an integral part of Studio 3, but decided, because of Covid, to spend more time with her family. She will be a frequent guest artist and her beautiful cards are still on sale.

I spotted Studio 3 and Joan’s name in the North Somerset Times at the start of February. Gail and Lucy had emailed all the artists and asked if they were happy to buy a painting to donate to our lovely Cottage hospital as a thank you for all the hard work of the NHS during the pandemic and the decades of wonderful care they had provided locally.

The work they chose “Golden Treescape” depicts a woodland scene was chosen because of its tranquillity, enhanced by its unusual use of 24-carat gold leaf.

Gail went on to explain that not only did they want to show their appreciation of the hospital but of Joan herself, a treasured colleague whose expertise as a retired marketing consultant had been invaluable to the group.

Joan said:

“I was delighted and honoured that my painting was chosen by a group of local artists.  I choose this subject because I admire trees, nature and the landscape very much, and I try to incorporate lighting and composition that is pleasing and tranquil. The idea behind my treescapes is that when one walks through a woodland or forest the light changes as one goes along.  The 24-carat gilding has a similar effect because as you look at these paintings from different positions the light changes there too.”

Gail acknowledged the hard work and tenacity of colleague John Pope in making it happen. John was very keen that it should happen, saying:

“Art has the potential to calm, intrigue, comfort, distract and lift the spirits. All these qualities are clearly an advantage in any potentially stressful hospital setting at any time, but especially so during a pandemic.”  

JO WHITELAND

Jo is a very popular Batik artist from Jo Whiteland Batiks. Jo discovered her passion for batik whilst working with artists in Kota Baharu on the east coast of Malaysia in 1991. On returning to the UK, she moved to Bristol and has continued to develop her own style of batik, repeating motifs to give the works life, depth and a sense of movement. The natural world provides an unlimited source of inspiration – her love of wildlife is reflected in her work. Jo uses her designs on cards, cushion covers and lampshades. You can check out her work here: www.jowhiteland.co.uk. Jo’s father John Pope the potter is a keen birdwatcher & fisherman, so as a child this is where she learnt much about and a love for birds and British wildlife.

JAMIE GILBERT

Jamie makes all types of turned wooden bowls, lamp bases, clock faces, platters and gifts. His journey in woodturning began a long time ago (at school) when he was inspired by his woodwork teacher to explore the multitude of possibilities that working with wood can bring.

Due to work, family and other commitments he did not restart his working with wood until much later. He is able to design and make bespoke turned wooden objects to suit your preferences. You should check out some of the beautiful work in his gallery http://jgwoodturning.co.uk

The guests currently showing their work at Studio 3 are Stephen Lisney, Lisa Rothwell-Orr, Carol Trocci, Michelle Dash and Liz Marsh.

STEPHEN LISNEY

Stephen is a self-taught printmaker working with a variety of techniques including dry point engraving on metal, white-line woodcut and linocut.  He enjoys experimenting with these media to create different sorts of images. He also prints small editions of cards that he designs, hand prints and finishes so that each is a small, unique artwork in itself. Further examples of his work can be seen on his website at: www.damsontreepress.com.

Stephen is also the Vice Chairman of the Clevedon Art Club and also manages the Club’s store and exhibition equipment. He, among others, brought people’s attention to Clevedon Artist Doris Hatt with a book about her. You might like to read my blogpost about Doris Hatt which I wrote in March 2019, just prior to an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Somerset https://bit.ly/3uJzs9h

LISA ROTHWELL-ORR

Lisa uses carefully selected watercolour palettes and other water-based media to portray large subjects on a small scale, hence her website name ‘paintings for small spaces’.

“Abstract in nature, my paintings are mostly inspired by the natural world and satellite imagery, and are largely based on experimental techniques and the ‘found image’

The paintings are usually close-cropped resulting in a dramatic final image and are most effective when displayed in groups.

” Occasionally reminiscent of photographic snapshots, some are dark and brooding, some serene and contemplative, and others are simply a celebration of colour on which to feast the eyes. Intricate in detail, they bear close scrutiny from the viewer.”

Here’s the link to Lisa’s wonderful website: https://www.lisarothwellorr.co.uk/

CAROL TROCCHI.

Carol is a retired Headteacher and finds inspiration from colours, textures and ‘found’ objects. Carol creates “up – cycled earrings” and all her pieces are unique, mixing old and new, up-cycling materials to make an exciting, eclectic and constantly evolving collection.

Carol started making earrings initially in order to make them light enough to be comfortable! Then she started exploring materials which would normally be thrown away such as plastic carrier bags and cardboard packaging etc…as long as it was colourful!

She has now amassed a collection of such things as well as beads, findings and materials. This has developed into ‘themes’ as her interest widens to encompass jewellery, wall hangings “or anything that jumps into my head when I wake up!!”

Carol is on Instagram @W_ EARART

MICHELLE DASH

Michelle is based in South Gloucestershire where she works from her home studio.  She gained a BA (hons) from Exeter College of Art and Design in 1986, working mainly in ceramics, producing large sculptures and reliefs. After her degree she switched to painting, largely for practical reasons, and has since exhibited paintings and drawings on a regular basis in Bristol, Bath and North Somerset. 

Michelle now enjoys working with a wide variety of media including drawing, painting, collage and ceramics. Her pieces often incorporate found objects and recycled items. Influences and interests include images from European medieval and early Renaissance art, as well as myths, fairy tales and dreams. These become reinterpreted or reimagined during the process of making and the finished pieces often suggest a story or psychological drama – drawing the viewer into engaging with possible identities and narratives. Recurring themes are metamorphosis, disguise, performance, hiding and revealing. There is often an element of dark humour. 

From 2001 to 2016 Michelle worked as an art therapist in the NHS and voluntary sector. Although now retired from art therapy, her experience in the field has given her a strong belief in the transformative potential of art making. With a continuing interest in the area of arts and health, she runs art groups, workshops and classes (mostly for adults) with an emphasis on learning through experimenting and exploring in a supportive, non-judgemental atmosphe
michelledash.artweb.com 

LIZ MARSH

Liz lives in Portishead and has discovered the joys of creativity through felting and art since retiring. She would describe herself as a felt maker and fibre artist and is a member of the ​International Felt makers Association. Liz makes the most luxurious handcrafted wet felted items using merino wool and silk. If you were interested in doing a workshop with Liz, then these are available on request.

Guest artists are chosen from those who have requested wall space or because Gail and Lucy have seen their work and would like to see more. They have different tastes in guests which works well in keeping the art diverse but they both share a passion for the unusual. They are keen that their choices represent the widest cross section of all art work. Their artists range from beginners to the more well-known from the surrounding areas.

As previously mentioned, one of their resident artists, Greg and four of their past and repeat guests are currently showing in the RWA in Bristol. One of their guests coming in July is a member of the RWA and a renowned Professor of Printmaking, Paul Thirkell. www.paulthirkell.com

If you are a creative and you’re reading this, you may well be thinking of getting in touch but bear in mind, the Studio are already booked up well into 2022.

If you’d like to know more about Studio 3, you can check it out here: www.studiothree.art and these are the contact details: Studio 3, Clevedon Craft Centre, Clevedon, BS21 6TD Telephone:  07557331967 E mail: studiothree111@gmail.com They are also on Instagram @ studiothree_gallery

A quick reminder of the opening times which it’s worth mentioning are not the same as the Craft Centre: open Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and Sunday from 11.00 am to 4 pm

I really enjoyed talking to Gail and Lucy about Studio 3 and I urge you to go and check out the beautiful art they have on display.


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