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Interview with Julie Leaming

In a rare new interview, Digswell Arts fellow Julie Leaming reasserts the solace and comfort that her art can offer.

How would you describe your current practice (e.g. materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)

My artwork includes both drawing and sculpture. I use charcoal and soft graphite pencils to draw abstracted and distilled perspectives of my subject and use a similar abstraction process when I work with the paper and clay to make my clay sculptures. My inspiration and starting point comes from the landscape often the mountains but not exclusively.

My approach is very processed based. I meticulously fold and wrap paper and clay slip onto plaster moulds. The paper and clay is built up allowing for a degree of drying and hardening of the work as I proceed. The form of the work is dictated by the clay itself, the thickness of the slip, the support I add and the desired finishing size. A lot of variables combined with an element of planning and control. Once fired the work is scraped back to reveal some of the folds and layers much like the erosion process the rock surface would endure outside.

What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops etc)

I have worked on a variety of different clay projects over the last year but have concentrated my efforts recently on these paper clay slip works I have been describing. I have a body of work which I have been exhibiting alongside my drawings.

I have had a piece of work accepted for the Westmorlands landscape exhibition in Penrith, Cumbria which will exhibit from 12th September. This is the first piece of work I have had selected outside of Herts and London so I am really please with this.

I never want to under estimate the value in showing your work locally and to show appreciation to the local galleries who know they are unlikely to make any money on your work initially yet give you the chance to exhibit. So a big thanks to Emmeline Webb owner of Art Nest in Hitchin who has given me a corner in her gallery.

What are your plans for the coming year

Continue with this strand of work, to keep apply for opportunities to show my work and funding to extend my practice. We will have three new Ceramic artists starting at Digswell so I am hoping as a collective we can exhibit in some clay events previously out of budget as a sole exhibitor.

I am attending a course starting in September to extend my knowledge of other sculpting materials such as resins and Jesomite.

What is the question you get asked most about your work and how do you answer it

People who visit my studio are mostly intrigued about the making process how I use the paper and slips.

What or who inspired you to be an artist and why

No one person has inspired me as such, just seeing individual artist and craft people having a go, putting their work out there. Seeing that maybe, just maybe you can make a living showing and selling your work.

Which artist do you most admire and why

I recently saw the work of ceramic artist Ingrid Murphy. Her playful works combine both digital as well as traditional technologies to make interactive bone china objects. I love her ideas and how she cleverly interplays these two disciplines into quirky works. Certainly an inspiration.

How has your relationship with Digswell Arts Trust strengthened your practice as an artist

Having the physical space to develop my work and the opportunity to be part of a team of artists to share your ideas, trouble shoot and get critical feedback from.

Having an accessible exhibition space to exhibit your work and hopefully share the work with both the public and local curators.

Digswell Arts

The Forge
Hertford Road
Digswell
Herts. AL6 0BU

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Working for Artists in Hertfordshire for over 60 years