Artist in the Spotlight: Art Students

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With the pop-up event this Saturday fast approaching, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of our art student sellers: Yulei Zhang, Kezia Hulse and Joana Pinto, all students at the Cambridge School of Art. They will be showcasing and selling their work at the pop-up, and here they will share a little bit about themselves and their work.

Where are you from?

Yulei: Wuhan, China

Kez: York, North Yorkshire

Joana: Porto, Portgual

What course are you studying?

Yulei: MA Children’s Book Illustration

Kez: BA Illustration

Joana: BA Illustration and Animation

How would you describe your work in a few words?

Yulei: Dreamlike, secret world, solitude

Yulei Zhang's image from The Attic story
Yulei Zhang’s image from The Attic story

Kez: Lively, Fresh, Humorous

Kez Hulse's Adventures of the Escaping Beard
Kez Hulse’s Adventures of the Escaping Beard

Joana: Playful and expressive

Joana Pinto's Cityscape of Porto City
Joana Pinto’s Cityscape of Porto City

What will you be selling at our Eclectic Mix pop up event on 10th June?

Yulei: I will bring some postcards and a tiny concertina booklet, the images are selected from two of my recent picturebook projects, The Attic and The night story. The Attic tells a story about a girl who has an adventure in her dream. The Night Story comes from my experience of sketching in the pubs of Cambridge, the story deals with the subject of loneliness.

Yulei's products for the pop-up event
Yulei’s products for the pop-up event

Kez: I will be selling some limited edition screen prints which I printed for a final project; to illustrate T.S Eliot;s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I will also be selling postcards which are a mixture of recent drawings and designs.

Kez Hulse's limited edition screen prints
Kez Hulse’s limited edition screen prints

Joana: I’ll be selling a collection of postcards inspired by Portuguese flora and caprine breeds, three prints and a collection of stickers. They all depict different animals, either explored in an aesthetically pleasing sense, particularly in the case of the prints, or simply created to display playful characters, especially with the stickers.

Joana Pinto' stickers on sale at the pop-up event
Joana Pinto’ stickers on sale at the pop-up event

What’s the best part of making what you do? And the worst?

Yulei: For me the most interesting part is to try different kind of techniques and mediums, to find the best way to telling the story. During this process I usually get a better understanding of what really interests me most. The worst part is having limited time.

Kez: The best part is drawing and scribbling ideas down and being able to create images that put forward ideas or messages. The worst part is when you want to draw but you don’t have any ideas!

Joana: The best part is definitely sketching, playing with shapes and trying to figure out what kind of character will come out of the end of the pencil. I don’t usually think before I draw so the result always comes with a bit of a surprise that makes drawing all the more fun. As to the worst, well, that’d have to be colouring. Not that I hate it but it’s the longest part of the process and I consider myself a rather eager person when drawing, I just can’t wait to see how an illustration will look once it’s finished!

Where do you see your work taking you in the future?

Yulei: Well, I’d like to try to some more challenging image narratives, like graphic novel.

Yulei's concertina story, on sale at the pop-up event
Yulei’s concertina story, on sale at the pop-up event

Kez: Possibly editorial illustration, creating images for magazine articles, or advertising or book covers. Or maybe designing sets for the theatre as I enjoy thinking about designs and ideas in 3D.

Joana: I definitely want to follow a career in animation, most likely at a small or medium sized British or American company, but I’d also love to create children’s books or even a graphic novel at some point. I’m pretty much open for anything that gives me the opportunity to tell a story.

To see more of their work, find them on social media:

Yulei: https://www.behance.net/mozyl

Kez: Instagram: Kez_Illustration/FB: KeziaHulseIllustration

Joana: fizzledlines.tumblr.com

Come and see their work for yourself this Saturday – find them in the new Eclectic Mix Student Art area!

‘Handmade’ according to Avalon Jewellery

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Glass Bead Earrings by Honor from Avalon Jewellery

We are very happy to announce that Ronan and Honor from Avalon Jewellery are going to have a stall at our summer pop-up on June 10th. In the running up to the event, we are putting our sellers in the spotlight and asked them a few questions.

Ronan and Honor were one of the first to get on board and we are very excited about their new products. Keep an eye out on this website, as we will be uploading some of them the coming weeks and don’t miss out on a chance to try their jewellery on at our summer pop-up.

Just like the names of their beautiful, handcrafted pieces of jewellery, Honor’s answers to our questions read like poetry.

 

Describe your work in three words

Modern – English – Jewellery

Why is ‘handmade’ so important to you?

‘Handmade’ is important to us because it makes us open up our imagination to the world and then use our creative skills to bring our ideas into being.

‘Handmade’ things need imagination, care, a willingness to experiment and sometimes fail, concentration, skill, stamina, patience, impatience, attention to detail, time and perhaps most importantly, love, but not necessarily in that order.

‘Handmade’, by its definition, means that human hands have been used to make something original and lovely with someone original and lovely in mind and what can be better than that?

What will you be selling at our Eclectic Mix pop up event on 10th June?

A range of jewellery made from precious metals and stones including bangles, earrings, pendants, necklaces and rings, some of which includes art glass.

 

What’s the best part of making what you do? And the worst?

The best part of making our jewellery is the collaboration between us. We love to marry materials which we like to think brings a unique quality to some of our jewellery, especially our sterling silver and art glass earrings and pendants. Ronan very much enjoys the complexities of working with precious metals and stones whilst I love working with art glass for its extraordinary colours and because the process needs skill but is clean and quick with endless possibilities.
As for the worst part, I can’t speak for Ronan, but for me, using a hot torch to make glass beads in the Summer heat makes life very difficult, and I have been known to sit with my feet in a bowl of iced water before now. Even Murano glassmakers close down in the hottest months. What happened to chilly British weather all year round? Maybe my shed could double up as a sauna (not a good look with protective eyewear) or maybe I just need to head for a landscape where I can watch icebergs float by. On second thoughts, shaping molten glass in the middle of a melting igloo may not be such a good idea. Heading shedwards shortly instead, and loving it.

 

You can find out more about Avalon Jewellery on their artist’s bio page, or have a look at Honor‘s and Ronan’s shop on our website. Don’t miss out on meeting them at the summer pop-up. They are a very inspiring and warmhearted couple and we feel blessed to have them in our team of sellers.

What does ‘handmade’ mean for artist and printmaker Mandy Knapp?

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What does 'handmade' mean for artist and printmaker Mandy Knapp?

Mandy Knapp is an artist from South Cambs, and we have been asking her what ‘handmade’ means to her.

My own space

“I am very lucky to have a small print studio in my garden, so I can take myself off to my own space and make, without having the distraction of computers or mounting housework.

Cup of fruit tea in hand, and with music from my phone, I can shut myself off and get printing. I never seem to suffer from creative blocks. Because my time in the studio is often snatched and precious, I always use it constructively. As with many people, I have work and family commitments to juggle, which makes studio time very special.

 

 

Happy accidents

For me, the ‘hands on’ inky nature of printmaking is just delicious. When you are manipulating freshly made pigments, where the viscosity is never constant, using found textures to ink up and run through the press, you are never absolutely sure of how the print will turn out. With experience, you have of course a rough idea, but I really enjoy the happy accidents that occur along the way. The resulting work has a very much handmade, individual look that I want to convey. I’m not interested in producing multiples of a ‘perfect’ image. I like making bodies of work, but each piece is unique. I hope people like that, and feel they are taking away something individual that cannot be copied exactly.

Artists invest a lot of themselves in their handmade pieces. What a wonderful thing to own a representation of a particular artist/maker. Its such a personal thing, and we should not lose sight of this. Who wants ‘massed produced’ when you can spend the same amount of money on something with individual beauty?”

Mandy is helping us with social media and we feel very lucky to have her on board with Eclectic Mix Cambridge. She is always smiling and full of ideas. She will also sell some of work at our next pop-up event on June 10th.

 

The story behind the bags of Ruth Schmid

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The story behind the bags of Ruth Schmid

The story behind the bags of Ruth Schmid

One of the things I like about Cambridge is the interesting mix of events and people that mingle together, like at the Cambridge Science Festival.  Every event I go to I meet interesting people. Some are scientists, some artists, some world travellers. Sometimes they seem to be all, in one package, like Ruth Schmid from Qhere. At the moment she is travelling in Cambodia, so an order might take longer to arrive, but have a look at her bags.

I asked her a few questions.

How did you start making these bags?

I was looking for meaningful work after we had moved from Switzerland to Cambridge in 2002. Working as a sociologist, which is my academic degree, was out of the question. I wanted to finally work with my own hands and produce something tangible and real. I was good at sewing, and there were plenty of advertising banners waiting to for a better fate than ending up in a landfill. So the idea was born to give them a second life as shopping bags.

What inspired you to use those banners? 

Initially, I used new materials to produce bags. One incident at the beginning of my work was when I found several large banners in a skip. The colors were beautiful, the material is strong and durable, but it’s thin enough to work with a regular sewing machine. And then I started to notice all these advertising banners across the city. And so I started asking around whether I could get hold of them after they no longer served their initial purpose.

 

Does science and the Cambridge Science Festival have a particular meaning for you? 

My husband is an academic at the University and both my kids are studying physics. I am the more artistic and practical counterpoint in our family. But using banners from the Cambridge Science Festival is a particular pleasure. The words and pictures on the Cambridge Science Festival banners become visual elements of the bags, and many of my customers like the idea of doing something environmentally friendly while getting something that reminds them of a great event.

Maybe you can share something about the durability of the material and your vision on sustainability? 

A few weeks ago I saw somebody on the market in Cambridge who was still using an advertising banner shopping bag bought a few years ago. That felt great. Not just because it’s a product I made, but also because it is a small contribution to a more sustainable world. Across many areas of my life I have developed an interest in re-using stuff that others have thrown way, and in trying to avoid unnecessary waste. This won’t solve the problems of saving our planet, but it’s a small contribution to producing less waste.