Artists in Residence – SOUTH EAST
We are very fortunate in the South East to have good weather (most of the time!), wonderful countryside, a stunning coastline and vibrant towns and villages which are host to a thriving visual arts culture. Artists and makers, of all disciplines, can be found in pockets throughout the counties, taking inspiration from the landscape in which they live and the community around them. It is no surprise then that the event which pools together a wealth of artistic talent across the whole region is now entering its 25th year. As one of the most established annual arts events in the UK, South East Open Studios (SEOS) takes places across Kent, Sussex and the Surrey Borders and is a fantastic opportunity to step into studios and discover art & crafts in the South East. We got in touch with four talented creatives, from different artistic practices, who are opening their studios for visitors to discover.
Michelle Dufaur is a contemporary artist exhibiting predominantly in steel. Confidently producing unique linear garden sculptures evolved from willow maquettes. Many of her works for Wakehurst’s Glow Wild are transcribed into metal.
She works with steel in the same way she would with willow; long lengths to aid leverage. Using this method, she needs minimal tools, manipulates the steel without heat and maintains close physical contact with the material. She has a unique style that particularly celebrates the line of suggestion. Living and working in Barcombe Mills, her current body of work is certainly inspired by the richness of local wildlife.
Being a sculpture graduate in the 1990’s, she won a scholarship to Japan and has been an associate freelance artist to SameSky for over a decade. She has a strong participatory background and loves the opportunity to involve others in her work. Dufaur recognises the empowering potential of women working in this medium.
Alongside her annual installations, Michelle has secured a new commission for the National Trust, plus new 2022 venues include Michelham Priory, Ditchling Art Trail and Artwave Lewes.
Michelle Dufaur HERON-OxidisedSteel-200x110cm
Michelle Dufaur by Carlotta Luke
Alison Drewett specialises in paper collage, creating landscapes, seascapes and building portraits. After studying illustration at Falmouth College of Arts and graduating in 2003, Alison chose to put her pencils away and pursue a career in Digital Project Management. This saw her propel from a small agency in the Kent countryside to one of the ‘Big Four’ creative agencies in London.
In 2020, at home during the global pandemic with two girls under three, Alison rediscovered her creative talents. Using Instagram, she shared the activities she was enjoying with her girls. The support she received from other creatives gave her the confidence to change the direction of her career in 2021.
Alison’s love of reusing materials not only reduces the impact on the environment, but it also opens up opportunities, she says “by incorporating a menu from a special restaurant or a label from a favourite bottle of wine, for example, I can create something personal and unique that my clients can treasure forever”.
Alison is very proud and fortunate to be living and working in Herne Bay; “The support I have received from both visitors and locals has been overwhelming. I look forward to creating more artwork of our beautiful seaside town in the years to come”.
Alison Drewett in Studio
Alison Drewett. Folkestone Old High Street-Watercolour Paper Collage-42cmx30cm
Annie McAlister-Dilks – Burnt Ash Ceramics
When Annie McAlister-Dilks was twenty, she started attending adult education classes and over time began teaching fellow students. She later took a teaching qualification and taught for Bromley Adult Education College for twenty-five years.
A love and fascination with the wide-open skies, marshes and coastal landscape of north Norfolk inspired her to experiment with naked raku and smoke firings. Watching the north Norfolk sunsets is the feel and palette Annie aims to capture in her smoked pots, favouring the blue, grey and green colours the sky reflects in the North Sea, with varying shades of pink and red colouration to spark thoughts of the brilliant skies.
Naked raku pots can be carved to suggest the flow of tidal creeks. She uses throwing, slabbing and pinching to make the pots, with a white clay which is strong enough to resist the thermal shock involved in the firing process. The method can be intricate and time consuming, including hours of burnishing the surfaces with a polished pebble. Gently curved vases have been inspired by the shape of razor clam shells; likewise, pairs of tall candlesticks lean gently towards each other, again in a slight curve. The smoke firing process uses seaweed and sea lavender foraged from the north Norfolk beaches and marshes.
Annie McAlister-Dilks. Smoked candlesticks — 50cmx9cm
Tucked away in a spot surrounded by trees and fields, you will find Scarlett Woodman’s Biddenden studio and the landscape in which she takes inspiration from. Scarlett studied painting at Camberwell College of the Arts, but even then found herself working with concrete, “I’ve always been drawn to texture, particularly those created as materials deteriorate over time”.
Since graduating in 2017, her practice has developed through exploration of the surrounding countryside, concern for the environment, and fascination with utilising whatever leftover or salvaged building materials she can find.
Scarlett’s unique process involves painting the surfaces of the salvaged materials, then scratching back into them using tiny chisels. In doing so, not only does the material itself become the image, but it’s transformed from a hard, harsh, heavy object once used for construction, into something soft and delicate. She hopes through this to show the strength, beauty and resilience of nature, whilst also acknowledging its fragility.
Scarlett will be opening her studio in June for South East Open Studios where you will be able to see her work and process, she is also guest artist at Artspring Gallery in Tonbridge throughout July and August.
Scarlett Woodman. Studio Image
Scarlett Woodman. Lace-Emulsion on corrugated iron with drawing scratched into surface-40x87cm
SEOS is taking place from the 3 – 19 June 2022 see website for more details.