August Featured Artist – Gill Edwards
I do hope you enjoy reading about this months featured artist and please do send feedback to me for her.
Your name? Gill Edwards
Where do you live? Southwell, Nottinghamshire UK
How did you learn your craft i.e. college, self-taught and what did that entail?
I did a Foundation course at Manchester Art College and then did a BA Hons in Printed Textile design at Loughborough College of Art & Design, graduating way back in 1983!!
My first job was as a textile designer at Laura Ashley in mid Wales. The first main project I worked on was with Laura herself and I was working on that when, sadly, she died in late 1985. The project was to reproduce the fabrics from Charleston farmhouse in Sussex, which was a wonderful job. I stayed at Laura Ashley for 13 years and then moved my family (husband and two very young children) to Nottinghamshire to work for the designer fabric and wallcovering company, Romo.
In the 21 years I was there, Romo grew from a small, family-run business into the Romo Group and when I left I was Print Design Manager for two of the six brands in the group. I took early retirement in July 2019, following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2017. That rocked my world and made me realise it was time to live each day as it comes and to do the thing I’d always wanted to do which was to paint.
Which media do you prefer to work with?
At the moment I prefer to paint in acrylics but I also do some Japanese woodblock printing. In the past I have painted in watercolour but acrylic really suits my way of working now. I’m always keen to explore more printmaking methods too.
Who are your biggest influences?
My work is influenced by my career in textile design, so it features pattern and colour. Sometimes there’s a still life element. I collect ceramics and love to include the shapes of vases and bowls in my smaller pieces. My bigger paintings tend to be more abstract, currently with a nod towards mid-century, but they are entirely intuitive, built from many layers.
I love the idea of hidden history and when I show a buyer images of some of the previous layers they find it hard to believe they are underneath! I love mark making, scratching, and drawing into the paint and working without an initial plan. I’m considering trying to combine some of my printmaking methods into paintings in the future…. We’ll see what happens!
What does your work aim to say?
I know other artists feel the need to have a message in their work and some feel deeply about conveying that. All I aim for is that people will fall in love with a painting, feel that it sings to them and they would like to look at it every day.
How do you navigate the art world?
I have only been working as a full-time artist for just over 12 months and I am finding Instagram to be a fantastic way to connect with artists and collectors. I love the relationships I am building with artists worldwide. I have made connections with local galleries in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire but getting my work into galleries is not my focus. I like building connections with buyers and collectors and selling my work to them directly.
How do you seek out opportunities?
I do this mostly via Instagram, Facebook, my website and my newsletter. I had a successful Open Studio event in December last year which introduced me, and my work, to lots of new buyers and brought me into contact with several local creative groups.
How do you price your work?
I price my work according to size of paintings and using a calculation which I have formulated. It is important to price my work realistically as a relatively new artist, but I have had no resistance to my pricing so far. It is important for buyers to recognise how much work goes into a painting and that seems to be understood. I would rather hold onto a painting until the right buyer comes along than sell it for less than I feel it is worth. Recently a potential buyer commented that one of my paintings ‘sang’ to her and that is the kind of reaction I like!
How have you developed your career?
I have only been painting regularly since last Summer when I started to rent a studio space near my home. I had an Open Studio (OS) event just before Christmas and invited a ceramicist to show her work, too. It was a very successful weekend and it opened up several opportunities for me to connect with other artists and creatives in the area. I was also asked about workshops, which is something I would be interested in doing. I have a website, a growing presence on Instagram, and an art page on Facebook. I particularly enjoy the connections I am making on Instagram.
My OS event in June became an online event, run through OSNotts 2020. This is the first time the event has been virtual. I took part in a Zoom chat with other Notts-based artists; produced a video tour of my studio and did some Instagram and Facebook posts of paintings and of my Open Windows event. I sold a few paintings but it wasn’t anything like my real OS event last year. We are all finding our way through this lockdown situation.
I’ve been selected to have work in an Open exhibition in a gallery in Notts (see below) and would like to continue to promote my work and bring it to a bigger audience. I’m also keen to share with people how much fun it can be to paint!
Which current art world trends are you following?
I don’t follow trends. I produce work that reflects me and the things that are inspiring me. That creates authentic work.
Do you know where you are heading career wise?
As this is my second career, I am just enjoying the journey of discovery, loving painting almost every day, building relationships and connections with other artists and collectors worldwide. I live each day as it comes and enjoy opportunities as they arise for me.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Paint the things you love and that come from within you to create unique work. Make connections and build relationships. Support other artists and be open to any opportunities that are offered to you and that interest you. Be kind and supportive.
Where can people see your art, do you have any exhibitions coming up?
I’m taking part in the Harley Gallery Open exhibition in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, which starts on Saturday 1st August and runs until Sunday 1st Nov. A real, in person, exhibition! For more information, see www.harleygallery.co.uk
How can readers find out more about you e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc.?