Ann Kelson is our Exhibitor of the Month for March, let’s get to know her better…
Where were you born? How long have you lived in North Somerset?
I was born in Bristol but have lived in North Somerset for about 17 years now.
Have you always made things? Tell us about something you made as a child.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making and then, as now, my ambition was always greater than my skill. The need to realise whatever is in my head is usually the drive to learn the necessary skill therefore the ambition to make a Tiffany lampshade drove me to learn to cut glass! I have no patience when it comes to learning as I am keen to get on with my new project and just want the skill now.
I remember being taught to knit, by my mum, during the powercuts of the 70’s. I worry that these, handed down, skills are now being taught by YouTube and it feels like important personal connections, which used to be made through craft, are somehow being lost.
Do you have any formal training in your craft/art?
When my youngest child started school I began a Foundation in Art which led onto a Degree in Drawing and Applied Art. All my studying was part-time which was a joyous way to learn for my middle-aged, slow brain. I enjoyed studying with the youngsters but lived in fear of being “found out” and sent home to do the ironing. Being a mature student, after having worked for a living, felt like a huge privilege which I now miss very much.
Do you have a workshop? Is it clean and tidy or a bit of a mess and muddle?
I don’t have a workshop but I do have a desk. It’s a bad day when my desk is tidy and organised as it means that my creativity isn’t flowing, maybe due to the real world getting in the way but sometimes because I’m just stuck with an idea which I can’t resolve. On a good day my desk is full to overflowing and I have to resort to moving onto my husbands desk which is not universally popular.
Do you prefer to work in silence? With music? The TV?
I always have the radio on and its usually set to Radio 2. I often find myself having an argument with Jeremy Vine and then I know it’s time to have a break.
Your work is really diverse – which, if any, is your favourite of the many crafts you can do?
My work is diverse but I don’t really have a favourite craft and I move from one project to another to avoid getting bored. Saying that, my craft work is only half the story. I also have a much more conceptual aspect to my artwork which was shown in The Blue Room when I was lucky enough to have a solo exhibition.
Is there another craft/art that you’d like to have a go at?
My next project will be mosaic which will use some of the vintage china with which I already work. I have a selection of broken and chipped pieces which are too beautiful to throw away and will be perfect for mosaics.
What other jobs have you had?
I have had a variety of other jobs but have always been making at the same time. I was an air stewardess for a while but suffered from air sickness which was quite inhibiting to say the least. I also worked as a nursery nurse in a nursery school but found the job changed considerably over the years and became much more about paperwork and results, with little time left for play or fun.
Can you tell us your favourite Artist (in any medium)?
One of my favourite artists is Kate McGwire. She is a sculptor who uses feathers to create wonderful pieces. She contrasts the smoothness and iridescent colours of the feathers with the sharp simplicity of the quills. Her pieces can be big and freeform or smaller and displayed in beautiful, vintage glass cabinets. Some of my favourite pieces consist of layers of grey feathers displayed through cutouts in polished pieces of lead. She is an example of an artist who picks her medium and works with it until she understands exactly what it is capable of and how to get the best out of it. I’m not sure I will ever get to that point!
Many thanks to Ann for such an interesting interview. I’m off to look up Kate McGwire, she sounds fascinating.