Interview with Frieda Strachan

How long have you been a part of the Northern Arts Club and what made you eager to join?

It was my 1 year anniversary of joining the NAC studio space, while in lockdown!  I was making bigger work and acquiring more materials and had no dedicated space at home.  I just wanted an escape for me - somewhere devoted to my practice and somewhere I could get messy!

How has the pandemic affected the routine of the club, as well as you?

I work full-time, which means my creative practice comes into play in downtime, so I've been unable to attend meetings.  I used to spend most evenings in my studio until the wee small hours.  Now I have a few materials at home which I use at my work/creative space in my room.  It's difficult making the shift back home simply because everything takes place here now, which makes it hard to adjust between work, rest and "play".

Have you found that you have had more time to focus on producing artwork during lockdown?

There has definitely been more time, but I don't know that I have been as busy in terms of making.  I work with fibre which means I would ordinarily have a few pieces on the go requiring a lot of material.  I don't have that luxury of space at home, so have been trying to focus on other things like branding, website, marketing and planning new ideas and collaborations.  I have also decided to try out completely new things instead of pressuring myself to do the stuff I am supposed to be "good at".  Finding motivation can be hard in lockdown, so I'm being kind to myself and taking each day as it comes.  If I feel inspired to create, that's great.

Have you been producing and sharing work with group members on a regular basis?  If so, how have you done this?

No, but this is something I need to start making more of an effort with.  Being a full-time worker and part-time maker with quite a busy schedule can make it hard!

What have you taken inspiration from when producing your pieces?

My inspiration comes from myself and how I am feeling.  But my motivation has definitely come from other creative people I know, sharing their work online.  It can seem quite passive browsing social media, but it makes me feel I can relate and be part of something.  It's important and I have felt linked to the creative community in Aberdeen, simply because we are all looking for the same connection in lockdown.

Do you focus on particular theme or use certain materials when producing your fabric art?  If so, what?

I make most of my work depending on how I feel at the time.  It drives the textures and colours I choose - the sizes and shapes.  Sometimes I get inspired from being outdoors, that all comes from the feeling I get being out in the wild. Recently I have been interested in basket weaving.  The exercise time has been a great opportunity to think about how I connect this with the outdoors, how to do this in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Has creating your artwork acted as a coping mechanism during the pandemic?

Certainly the creative aspect has.  It's provided a task, a tool for mindfulness, a reason to push onward and get out of bed at the weekend!  It's motivated me to connect in other ways like vlogs, being part of the #indiereliefraffle and doing my own 90's quiz in aid of CFINE and VictoriArt Road.  I needed to move my Doric Dwams collaborative project online during lockdown and was very glad to sell all the pieces in aid of Rape Crisis Aberdeen.  We are planning to hold some online weaving workshops soon - so I'm happy to share my coping mechanism at a time like this.

Interview with Kathleen Watt (Bridget Watt - exhibition name)

How long have you been a part of the Northern Arts Club and what made you eager to join?

Just over a year.  Since completing my Fine Art Degree in Liverpool during the 1980's, I have always yearned to have studio space again to continue my studies.  I was thrilled when I was offered this opportunity and love everything about the space.  The walk to the centre of town, the building itself has a special atmosphere with plenty of light overlooking a beautiful green space.

How has the pandemic affected the routing of the club, as well as you?

It has disrupted the regular life drawing sessions I normally attend and several projects I've been working on in the studio.  I am looking forward to returning and sharing the creative process with other artists.

Have you found that you have had more time to focus on producing artwork during lockdown?

The discipline of attending a dedicated space with others definitely motivates and focuses creativity.

Have you been producing and sharing work with group members on a regular basis?  If so, how have you done this?

I have instead used the lockdown time to rediscover lots of my Son's art he did as a youngster, with bold energetic shapes and colour.  I was struck by the maturity of his secondary school work which has a sensitivity combined with humour guaranteed to make you smile.

What have you taken inspiration from when producing your artwork?

Looking at well crafted art and taking on the same challenge to transform careful observation into art of an equal measure.

Do you focus on particular themes/using certain materials when producing you artwork?  If so, what?

The theme is capturing the life force in the subject.  Materials used are mixed media water based paints, mostly acrylic with charcoal, pens, chalks and any other reasonable media that provides the right colour and texture to achieve the desired outcome.

Has creating your artwork acted as a coping mechanism during the pandemic?

Creating art is always a fantastic way to explore and communicate your relationship with the world at any stage of life.

 INTERVIEW WITH SUZANN ROSS 

How long have you been a part of the Northern Arts Club and what made you eager to join?

I became a member and studio practitioner in August 2017.  I had graduated with a BA (hons) in Fine Art Painting from Gray's School of Art in June and had been lucky enough to be a RSA prize winner.  Established local artist Joe Fan RSA, put me in touch with the Club and from this introduction I secured a studio, which provided me a space to generate a new work for the 2018 RSA-NC exhibition in Edinburgh.

How has the pandemic affected the routine of the club, as well as you?

Effectively the Club's premises are closed to all members.  The Club's decision to waiver rental fees for lease holders from lockdown has reduced the financial burden on those working across the local creative industries.  Many are self-employed or sole traders, whose income has been impacted significantly by the pandemic.  To compensate for the loss of rental income the Club has received vital financial support from Aberdeen Council grant scheme.  This has been an invaluable lifeline during the pandemic.

"ARCHIVE" - mixed media on canvas - W52 x H76 x D2cm - Started prior to lockdown and completed at home

Have you found that you have had more time to focus on producing artwork during lockdown?

I have been kept very busy.  I was fortunate to be chosen for the Look Again Creative Entrepreneurship course.  This course provides business development for creatives in Scotland and is supported by Look Again and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group through Robert Gordon University.  As a result, my focus has not been limited to my own practice, but learning how to develop the Club to ensure its future for generations to come.

Have you been producing and sharing work with group members on a regular basis?  If so, how have you done this?

I have shared past, present and current work recently on social media and have been in communication via Zoom to discuss how the Club can move forward as the lockdown is slowly eased.

What have you taken inspiration from when producing your pieces?

I have been experimenting with colour, scale and texture, combining text and image to create a visual story.  Looking at material culture and the life cycle.

Series of preparatory studies undertaken at home

Do you focus on themes/using certain materials when producing your artwork?  If so, what?

I work within the themes of cataloguing and archiving.  How information is understood and presented is central.  I work specifically with collage, exploring the relationship between text, image and colour.

Has creating your artwork acted as a coping mechanism during the pandemic?

It has been difficult to prioritise making work in the family home especially attempting to home school.  I have needed to adapt and experiment with new materials and work digitally.  It has been interesting and my practice will benefit in the future.

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