Thursday, 29 October 2009

Maker of the Week - Sarah Elwick

Sarah Elwick graduated from Winchester School of Art in 2003 with a First class honours degree in Textile design. She then studied for an MA in Fashion Menswear specialising in knitwear at the Royal College of Art, London in 2005. Sarah now lives and works in Brighton where she runs her own knitwear business, which she combines with part-time lecturing in Textile Design.

One favourite living craft maker (and why?)
At the moment it's a jeweller called Sally Collins who I met at The Great Northern Craft Fair in Manchester where we were both exhibiting. She makes the most exquisite handcrafted jewellery using really unusual combinations of different metals, found fabrics, and extremely fine crochet that she does on a 0.4mm crochet hook. I find the attention to detail, and use of handcrafting techniques in her work totally inspiring.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased?
A Sally Collins beautiful brooch! Although I didn't actually have to buy it as it was in exchange for some of my knitwear. The joys of craft exchanges!

At age 15 who influenced your style? Was there any individual who very much helped you on your way?
At age 15 I was really into the grunge look, inspired by Nirvana et al. The look consisted of second hand mens moth-eaten cardi's, stripey leggings or tights, and the obligatory Doc Martin boots, with ribbons instead of laces all year round. I don't think I wore anything else on my feet for about two years. I remember my granny being a bit surprised in the summer!

Last best read (book)?
Hmmm, I don't read that much, as I'm more of a doer. When I do it's normally some kind of 'how to' craft manual. I think it may well have been 'The Art of Macrame' which I'm still in the process of mastering.

Where and what is your studio? Do you work alone? In silence, radio?
I currently work from home, in an attic room. Work is always accompanied by music, either on the radio, or my rather eclectic collection of old records. Current faves are The Carpenters, and Paula Abdul.

What is your favourite (art) website (and why)?
I regularly look at a blog called Hula Seventy belonging to a photographer called Andrea Jenkins, based in Portland, U.S.A. I'm not quite sure how I originally stumbled across her blog, but over and above all the other art blogs I have looked at, I have found myself drawn back to hers time and time again. She has a knack for capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary, and has a great eye for spotting unusual colour and pattern combinations.

Surprising activity/hobby?
I don't know if it's surprising, but I love to dance. Tap, swing, jive, samba, I love it all. I must admit to flitting between different classes though, as I still can't decide on my over-riding favourite.

Do you have a good work/life balance? Are you able to switch off from art work?
I think I have a reasonably good work/life balance. I combine my own designing and making with teaching textiles at City College Brighton and Hove. I really enjoy doing the combination of the two, and think teaching helps to prevent you becoming stale as a designer, as it keeps you on your toes. However, I think that slightly obsessive tendencies go with the territory of being a designer. You never totally switch off from what you do, as you're always on the look out for new ideas and inspiration. I have recently joined a choir, which I absolutely love. It's one of the only times I switch off from my work completely, that and swimming.

What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?

Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
Of course. Human beings have an innate drive to create, and to communicate ideas with each other. If you find a medium you feel an affinity with, and can really express yourself through, that's a real gift.

What do think are crimes against good taste & decency in art/craft/design?
I don't really want to get personal about any other artists, or craftspeople, but as for design, there's just one word: Crocs.

Can you think of any 'stories' which might be of have you travelled to research your ideas eg what did you do before you started your art career?
I did my research for my current knitwear collection at Winchester School of Art knitting reference library: It's an amazing and inspiring resource of knitting patterns, books and artefacts from 1900's onwards, with private collections donated from Monste Stanley, Richard Rutt, and Jane Waller. I did specific research into Wartime and naval patterns to inform my accessory shapes.I could spend days there.

Sarah will be exhibiting and selling her work at MADE09 in November.


Deborah said...

I love Sarah's work!

marion said...

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