Featured Artist – Anne Armes
What is your name or the name you go by for your art?
My name is Anne Armes.
Where do you live?
I live in Newport, Shropshire, a rural market town, with my husband and my black Labrador, Tilly.
What’s your background?
I’ve worked as a pharmacist all my life to support the family as my husband is disabled. During that time, I found a sanctuary in textiles using both hand and machine embroidery and art quilts.
How did you learn your craft, e.g. college, self-taught etc., and what did that entail?
I studied hand and machine embroidery and art quilts in both media at City & Guilds level. I had always wanted to paint but I was told at school that I had no talent, which has affected how I thought about my creative side for most of my life. I now suffer from arthritis in my hands which has stopped me stitching so much, so in 2018 I took a twelve-week online course with the American artist Nicolas Wilton, where I met Louise Fletcher.
Louise has changed my life, confidence, and my self-worth, as well as helping me discover my true authentic voice, in so many ways during her ‘Find Your Joy’ courses. I’m now honoured to have been chosen as one of her coaches.
What media do you prefer to work with?
I enjoy working in mixed media, adding collage and sometimes textiles to my paintings with acrylic paint and inks. I also love sketchbook work and especially concertina sketchbooks. I think I may be coming addicted to them!
My “studio” is an upstairs spare bedroom, but it’s more of an artist’s sanctuary to me, where I can escape my other duties and indulge in time just for me and my art. I’m currently reorganising it, fitting new units and getting rid of some of my textile things so that I can concentrate on painting. I use a painting wall on which I can hang my favourite substrate – plywood cradled panels – and I work on a few at the same time, as each informs the others. I hope to share a video tour on-line when it’s finished!
I’d like to work much bigger now too, maybe up to a metre square is my ambition for the next few months, as well as beginning to learn the skills needed to produce a small book.
What does your work aim to say?
I’ve always been inspired by my family textile history. On the female side I have been handed down old household textiles, related stitch ephemera and books. These provide a wonderful legacy of previous generations with the memories from my childhood: the tales that these treasures could tell if only they could speak. So, I am slowly working on a body of work to document the family history and create a collection for future generations, adding my own history to it, which will be my legacy to pass on.
I want to express my deep connection with all these family treasures, revealing their inherent beauty. Even though they may be mundane items they are far richer than mere family jewellery in my eyes, as they bear witness to the previous hands who have held them and the items that they have made to clothe and give comfort and joy to my ancestors. I love the idea of home-made items, stitched with love.
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences were obviously learning to stitch and mend with my mum and grandma. Two artists who have mentored and guided me over the last few years are Matthew Harris and Louise Fletcher. Matthew, my favourite textile artist ever, understands fully my deep connection to these treasured items and at mentoring weekends really made me see that it was possible to continue their story into the future. Louise has guided me with great understanding as to how I could start to explore possible ways of expressing through art my love of the worthless household items in my own original, authentic way, as it is not an easy or conventional subject to explore.
Have you exhibited your work?
I have exhibited my textiles quite widely over the years in various galleries, including the Barbican, the Shipley Gallery in Gateshead, RBSA in Birmingham, the Courtyard in Hereford, and the Herbert Gallery in Coventry, amongst others.
I now belong to a group called Un:Hinged with three other textile artists and through this group I have exhibited my paintings locally, which has given me a huge sense of pride and pleasure in my achievement over the last three years, and last but not least, by any means, Ginger Cactus Art.
Do you know where you are heading career wise?
My absolute dream for the future, is to produce a body of work about my family treasures including painting, cloth, and three-dimensional objects, culminating in a solo exhibition with a catalogue documenting the history of my collection for others to enjoy. It’s a wild dream but with hard work, anything is possible.
How do you price your work?
I price by the average linear inch, so a 12” x 12” is 12 x £20 so £240 (ish) and an 18” x 12” is 15 x £20 = £300. I round up a bit to make nice numbers, and depending on the venue, I might add framing, too. I started with a cost of £12 per average linear inch, then £15, £18 and now £20. I haven’t sold many and I wondered if I should reduce my prices but I’m not going to, as they are worth the price I’m asking. I think that if you don’t value things enough, others won’t either.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Yes. Whatever your chosen media, just start on your journey, take one small step at a time, and follow your dreams, however far-fetched they may seem. After all, if you do nothing and procrastinate, you are only denying yourself such an exciting and life-affirming adventure into the unknown.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
As part of Un:Hinged I will be exhibiting at The Angel Gallery, Broseley; in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire during September and October, dates to be confirmed, but including The Secret Severn Art Trail weeks; and later in the year at the Town Hall Gallery in Wem, Shropshire. So, if you come along to any of these, please stop by and say “hello”.
Where can you be found on social media?
I have recently had a website made and I’m learning how to make the best use of it. Technology doesn’t come easily to me; I’d rather use a pencil and paper! I also use Instagram and Facebook to share my work, although I’ve lapsed slightly, due to an ongoing illness. Recently I have started offering ‘one-to-one’ online mentoring which is an area where I feel that I have an empathetic and gentle ability to guide others on their own journeys.
My website is: annearmesart.com