Artist of the Month
An interview with the artists and heads behind the social enterprise Arthouse Meath. Learn more about what they make and how they make it.
Can you tell me a bit about how Art House Meath began and what inspired the founders to set up such a brilliant organisation?Founded by Becky Sheraidah in 2005 and based in Godalming, Surrey, ARTHOUSE Meath is a thriving non-profit business that now boasts over 300 stockists internationally, and has worked with such names and brands as Fat Face, Lush, Oxfam, Scribbler and the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1999 Becky started to run workshops for adults with severe epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties. She loved getting to know each personality, each individual’s way of working, each person’s refreshing outlook. “They didn’t have much belief in themselves and their skills were not recognised, just because they needed 24-hour care. They were colouring in someone else’s drawing or sticking tissue on paper, all of which was thrown away at the end of the day. I felt we could easily make a change. “Each person’s unique style came with a fresh, raw, honest feel, a style which I knew mainstream artists were striving to achieve. I knew there was room for this work in the marketplace. I knew people would want it in their homes.” The majority of ARTHOUSE Meath artists are residents of the Meath Epilepsy Trust, a charity offering housing and support services for people aged 19 and over living with severe epilepsy, learning and physical difficulties. In 2005, the Trust accepted Becky’s proposal and funded the foundation of ARTHOUSE Meath.
For people who aren’t familiar with Art House Meath, could you explain why freedom of expression and creativity are so important to the artists you work with?Many of the artist’s verbal communication may be limited, so having the ability and opportunity to create artworks provides a source of communications that is not restrictive. The artworks produced tells the story of talent and skill, qualities that are sometimes overlooked in people living with disabilities. The artwork gives a voice to the artists saying ‘I can, I am!’
What inspires the artists?Hear from the artists themselves: Art is therapeutic, I have always found it therapeutic and also love the tea that Matt makes on a Friday session. I love seeing my artwork being sold and it makes me very proud when someone buys it. I feel very independent when I come to ARTHOUSE as I can be creative. Elanor Sinden I love it because I like coming up with ideas for cards. My favourite card design is my design crazy as a coconut as it makes me laugh. It makes me feel so good when I see my work being sold. Karen Brown I have a real passion for creating anything that involves making artwork. Whenever I have these ideas I’ll always have a go at creating them. I have always looked for similar people who have the same issues and it’s been great to meet and work with so many other similar people at ARTHOUSE. The best thing is someone going ‘WOW’ when they see it or hearing how much they love my work. Amy Sherratt
What has been Art House Meath’s finest moment so far? And what do you hope to achieve in the future?The finest moments are always the artists meeting the people who buy their work. The artist recognising that their skills are truly valued and having a great sense of achievement is vital. Many tear jerking moments have happened when an artist painting or design sells when the artist is actually present – that moment is always so special. The future aim is to offer more people more opportunity and become a household name in order to change attitudes and help people to feel integrated, accepted and respected.
Do you have any projects you are working on right now that you can tell us about?There are lots of exciting projects and designs in the making! Look out for Rainbow Shark Popping Candy Milk Chocolate, Panda Mint Chocolate and a brand new toiletries range.
Finally, if you had to choose one flavour of chocolate from the range, which would be your favourite?All the flavours, it’s just so delicious we can’t choose! You can view our full range of Arthouse Meath products here.
Founded in 1749 Abbeyhorn has been working with horn for generations, passing down expertise and craftsmanship along the way.
Handcrafted from Ox horn, no two Abbeyhorn products are ever the same, making every piece a bespoke masterpiece.
Abbeyhorn makes use of a variety of natural materials and all raw supplies are sourced ethically from renewable resources.
After graduating from Bath Spa University with a BA (Hon) in Ceramic Design, Alice Shields set up a small studio in Bath where she designs and makes her whimsical range of ceramics by hand.
Alice Shields is passionate about the conservational issues of our native bees, butterflies and garden birds, and her ceramics blend her fascination with British flora and fauna with a light-hearted sense of humour.
All Alice's illustrations are hand drawn using a variety of pens, pencils and watercolours before being applied to earthenware, glazed clay.
Ali came to ceramics after twenty years as partner of a creative design consultancy in London. As an antidote to computers and managing a company she tried ceramics and found it completely absorbed her.
She soon found that porcelain was her material, because of the smooth surface it has for her marks to sit on and because of the quality of the material itself; the fluidity when wet and the fragile appearance, but surprising strength, when finished.
Her work is in porcelain with most surfaces unglazed and sanded to a smooth finish. The pieces are very tactile, encouraging you to follow the lines and shapes around the forms and feel the indentations made by the markings. Some are glazed inside, like a shell that is hard and glossy inside but sanded to a smooth finish by the sea on the outside.
Much of the surface is left in the natural white of the porcelain, allowing the colours used to be clean and fresh against it. Ali's design background definitely influences her work and she is also constantly trying new things out. Inspired by the most simple of marks, be they linear or graphic, natural, man made or sometimes happily accidental.
And Mary is a family-run business, by husband and wife, Neil and Alison. They are based on the Scottish borders and they have four dogs, Elvis, Edith, Bob and Marley.
They launched the And Mary brand in 2009 and have been known for their whimsical and hand pained porcelain ever since. Their ethos is to make you smile, from the adorable animal doorknobs to the quirky jewellery range.
Alison draws her inspiration from all round the globe, including their surround countryside. She also enjoys visiting vintage fairs and antique markets to source new ideas.
Kate Toms works from a small studio in Torquay, Devon. She was raised in a creative environment, always making with a love of simple, handcrafted decorations which inspired her own collection. Her hobby became her work and she started The Angel Bill Trading Co in 2002.
Alongside her passion for making Kate also illustrates books for children. Each piece within the collection mixes various media, many take inspiration from the recycled and vintage textiles. They are constructed using many techniques such as hand, machine and free machine embroidery, collage and dyeing.
Much of Kate’s inspiration comes from a collection of memories from her own childhood and those of others; the simple pleasures of playthings of long ago…much loved items showing the patina of age and hours of play, objects and images which have fuelled the imagination of children for generations are those that appear, reinvented, in my simple, endearing and quirky designs.
A member of the Makers Guild in Wales and the Association of Contemporary Jewellery, Anne Morgan enjoys silver’s potential for texture.
Her creations proudly show off their origins in workshop experimentation which makes every reticulated silver surface unique: each marks a precise moment in which she withdraws her flame from part-liquefied silver.
Once she has perfected these surfaces Anne off sets them with strong lines. She forges a relationship between organic texture and a simple geometry, rather like the placing of a formal structure in a natural landscape. She sets up a coupling in which each element complements the other.
Inspired by the hidden beauty that can be found in the functional construction of old machinery and tools. Beccy uses stainless steel as a base and combines it with contrasting precious metals such as silver and gold to produce clean and crisp designs. The finished pieces are made using a combination of manual engineering machines and traditional jewellery techniques.
Taking inspiration from her pet hens and wild birds, Christine Kaltoft crafts exuberant jewellery with a sense of movement. After studying at the London Metropolitan University she began using her jewellery to capture feelings and energy, frequently using quickly drawn graphic lines and simple bold shapes to create contemporary, handmade pieces.
Corrinne’s design's feature key elements of playful interaction and stylised elegance, with multi functional wear and collect-ability. The current collections are inspired by Native American culture’s, this rich and storied culture, deep in connection with the earth and it’s people, the detailed art and traditional garments ignite her imagination. Reading and studying artifacts, embroidered garments, Tribal head-dresses, wooden & woven objects & warrior weaponry all inspire the jewellery she creates. Corrinne has undertaken various studies spanning over 6 years including an HND at Birmingham School of Jewellery and BA (Hons) at Falmouth, informed with working in an established working jewellers, her knowledge of materials and antiquity feeds her work.
In her ceramic work, Michelle Freemantle uses a mix of hand built, press mould and thrown techniques, creating work that is tactile and visually pleasing. Lines and text are inscribed into the surfaces and slips and oxides applied to create a subtle yet intricate surface. Her functional work embodies both utility and content, acting simultaneously as art and practical pieces, each with its own unique character.
With a particular passion for the texture and beauty of wood Derrine Partiger draws inspiration from the Shaker design and philosophy to create beautiful storage boxes.
Hand crafted using traditional methods these boxes are influenced by 150 year old Shaker tradition. Tops and bottoms are fastened with wooden pegs, whilst copper tacks are used to secure the ‘fingers’ which, it is believed, pointed to the right to signify the Shaker's pursuit of rightness and heavenly perfection.
Ella McIntosh was first introduced to pewter in 2006 whilst at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University studying for her first class Honours degree in Designed Metalwork and Jewellery.
Ella went on to win the Pewter Live 2006 student competition run by the Worshipful Company of Pewterers and in 2009 set up her own workshop and began showing at public exhibitions and design fairs in the North West.
Ella’s skilled and innovative use of pewter in her designs clearly illustrates her enthusiasm for the current revival of pewter and its benefits as a metal.
Fiona is currently studying for her masters in Art Psychotherapy at the University of South Wales, after completing a degree in Photography at Bristol.
She is based in Frome and works from the attic room in her home. Fiona is inspired by natural history, taxidermy, cabinets of curiosities and is a keen collector. After collecting a large amount of feathers for years she decided to combine them with her love for preservation and design, creating feather domes.
Each dome is created individually and inspired by the nature of the feathers. The way each feather bends and the colors it feature translate to the finished piece. All of the feathers are sourced naturally or purchased from reputable companies and individuals who comply with the Wildlife and Countryside Act. No endangered species are used.
Gemma creates jewellery inspired by the Chaos Theory, something that has fascinated her for years. The idea that small differences in initial conditions yield widely diverging outcomes.
Through a process of hand casting she is able to conduct her own research into this idea. Dropping varying amounts of molten silver and gold into different volumes of snow, ice and water she creates wildly different one off castings that form the basis for her designs.
Gemma loves adding some order and structure to her designs, almost an ironic counterbalance to the chaos. Drawing inspiration from Edward N. Lorenzs images of chaotic flow she creates repetitive line drawings in precious metals including silver and 18ct gold, these add the structure, form and wearability to the cast pieces.
Hole & Corner celebrates craft, beauty, passion and skill. It’s about people who spend more time ‘doing’ than ‘talking’, who put content above style, whose work is their life. Through a quarterly print magazine and a regularly updated digital platform, we aim to promote local trade and talented individuals, whether professional or amateur, exploring and celebrating the landscape that inspires them. Combining these subjects with some of the world’s finest still life, style and fashion photographers, our goal is to present a lifestyle and culture in a way previously unseen.
Jane was brought up in the Devonshire countryside, surrounded by a softly folded landscape, abundant and bountiful flora, veteran trees, blunted cob farmhouses with thatched roofs and farmers who spoke using old words in strong local dialect. The house she was brought up in was filled with antiques and home made things and from an early age she learned to recognize the importance and worth of unconventional or peculiar qualities embedded in an object.
The language of ceramics itself offers qualities that appeal to her, each with their own meaning. She uses red earthenware, cheap, honest, unpretentious and informal and adds paper and coarse grog. Jane likes the shortness it gives the clay, like pastry, and the lumpiness, uneven texture and imperfections seem appropriate. Naked, this clay body is recognized and familiar: flower pots, bricks, kitchen crockery and antiquity may spring to mind, there is a certain comfort zone surrounding it, clothed with grubby white slip that cracks and crazes like old sun-baked paint, there is a depth and porous warmth to the work that invites touch.
The use of oxide washes articulates the figurative forms, reveals the detail and blemishes and imparts something akin to drawing to the piece. She often uses gold and other lustres in small amounts; visually this draws attention to certain details as key elements, but it also draws attention away from certain strategic components, which is all part of orchestrating the element of surprise. There are mythological and decorative connotations that can be evoked through the use of lusters. Those associations with value and opulence connected with precious metals can be useful signifying tools in the deciphering of a piece but they also present a ‘golden’ opportunity for subversion.
Joanna Allsop is a watercolour artist based in the rural outskirts of Bristol. Drawing inspiration from her somerset surroundings, her paintings are heavily influenced by the natural world and the animal kingdom. Joanna prides herself on quality, attention to detail, and the perfect mix of simplicity and statement.
Jennie Gill designs and makes precious jewellery in silver, golds, diamonds and semiprecious beads. Her work is heavily influenced by organic forms. Casting is a technique used to create the pieces, as is hammering, rolling and twisting. Laser etching is a new addition to some pieces.
After graduating in 1991 from Sheffield Hallam with a BA hons in silversmithing and jewellery Jennie decided to stay in the city and set up her business designing and making jewellery. Jennie has worked on over a dozen large-scale public art designs for gates and panels on new builds around Sheffield.
Johnson and Matthey, the worlds largest platinum marketers, awarded one of her necklaces 10 of the best in 2003. In 2004 the Arts Council sponsored a research trip to New York, which resulted in new designs in gold and diamonds.
She has exhibited around the UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan and America. In 2002 one of her designs won 'gift of the year' from the Giftware federation.
Jenny cannot remember her life without a sewing machine, knitting needles, threads and crochet hooks. She has loved textiles and colour from an early age.
Over the years, Jenny has taught many classes in the skills of patchwork, embroidery, knitting and crochet. Jenny studied Textile Design & Creative Embroidery at college and achieved a City & Guild's Diploma. For Jenny this opened another door to many more techniques and furthered her creativity.
The inspiration for most of her work comes from nature and the countryside in Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset, where she now resides.
Katie Leamon is a luxury card & stationery brand based in London. With a design studio in the heart of London, and a family run production studio in the English countryside, their design and create beautiful, hand finished collections of original paper products. All their products are proudly made in England with incredible care & attention at every stage of their journey. The brand launched in the summer of 2011 and is a reflection of Katie’s love of typography, stationery and vintage curiosities, and aims to deliver beautiful, simple designs that evoke a sense of nostalgia. The products are predominantly hand printed using individual polymer rubber stamps - the nature of this technique ensures all the cards are unique and have a very tangible feel to them, which is inherent to the brand. The brand is currently stocked in a number of stores across the world including Selfridges, Anthropologie, Harrods & Fortnum & Masons.