Our April artist in a window is Rebecca Louise Wilson we caught up with her to find out what inspires her work:
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rebecca Louise Wilson and I am a designer-maker working primarily with enamel. I work from my home studio in York creating mixed media narrative sculpture and jewellery.
2. Why do you do what you do?
I studied Contemporary Craft at York College and it was here that I discovered the craft of enamelling. I love colour and simple naïve designs and was drawn to the vibrant glossy colours and the endless effects that can be produced with combinations of layered enamel powders. One of my second year projects was called ‘Smile’ and I instantly had an image of my children and dog at the seaside! This became my first enamel piece and my style of work has developed from there…
3. How do you work?
My usual excuse is that you can’t be creative AND tidy! I work in what can only be described as organised chaos! I tend to be working on lots of different projects at once but it always seems to come together in the end. I usually start with simple doodles and collaged ideas which often find their way onto the finished pieces. I use copper which I hand cut and then apply the enamel in layers. I add mixed media and transfers to enhance each piece. I have a small office/studio space at home and am fortunate to be able to use my parent’s garage as my workshop.
4. What’s your background?
When I was 18 I started on an Art and Design Foundation course in my home town of Leicester but wanderlust got the better of me and I went off travelling to Spain, France and Italy, finally coming back and settling in York 3 years later. Marriage, a mortgage and two children followed and it was a few years ago that I decided to go back to college as a mature student and revisit my artistic interests. I studied at York College for five years, gaining a first class honours degree in Contemporary Craft in 2011.
5. What themes do you pursue?
Everyday life and simple family events inspire my work. Trips to the seaside, picnics, walking the dog are some of the themes that I have pursued. I like to produce small narrative pieces that will prompt happy memories and make you smile!
6. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Whilst studying for my degree I was lucky enough to go to Nice in the South of France where I visited the Henri Matisse Museum and also the Chapel that he designed in Vence. I had chosen to write about Matisse and in particular his Cut-Out work for my dissertation and to see these collages ‘in the flesh’ was amazing. I love to use collage work in my own design process and found the visit truly inspiring. I think it showed me that nothing really beats seeing a work of art for real.
7. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Being asked to make my first enamel commission was fabulous! And even better was when the same lovely customer asked for a second piece! Everyone loves a compliment and it’s a great feeling to receive such positive feedback.
8. Is the artistic Life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
After I finished my degree I found it quite challenging to have to work alone. I think most artists/makers are very critical of their own work and it’s really easy to lose confidence. I’m really lucky to have a very supportive family who keep me on track and offer advice and constructive criticism! I also think it’s important to keep in contact with other artists and designers - I’m quite new to it but I love Facebook, it’s great for seeing what other like-minded designer-makers are doing and for sharing ideas but it can be a bit too distracting! I have a part-time job as a classroom assistant which offers a complete change from my design work and gets me out into the real world where I can talk to real people!
9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
(I don’t always do it!) But I think the best piece of advice I’ve been given is to ‘believe in yourself’.
10. Professionally, what’s your goal?
I would love Rebecca Louise Wilson Designs to grow steadily and become more established, and to continue to experiment with different materials and methods. I’m lucky to be able to work at home and to be around for my family which is very important to me, but ultimately I am wishing for a beautiful garden studio to escape to!
Our main exhibition programme continues during April with The Sea and Other Stories by Nansy Ferrett and Jenny Aitken.