Duckett & Jeffreys produce work influenced and informed by living in or travelling through the landscape. They will be exhibiting at the Palace Art and Craft Fair. Here Stef Mitchell answers our questions.
At what age did you know you wanted to become an artist?
I remember making my first print when I was 9, it was of a yellow tortoise and for the first time I felt a tinge of pride in the success of doing something that for me seemed so right to be doing. I initially trained in music but my first degree was one of the few mixed arts degrees started in the 80s where I was able to train as a classical performer, study electronic composition and make films - a great mix. Postgrad studies at Goldsmiths cemented my love of printmaking and more recently I completed a further degree in Fine Art, gaining a 1st at the grand age of 50. I never want to stop learning.
Is being a an artist your only job?
I am an artist, curator & educator. Along with my husband Ian, we run Duckett and Jeffreys Gallery & the Touring Caravan Gallery, a nomadic gallery based in Yorkshire but prepared to reach wherever the call pulls. With print studios at Sledmere & Staithes I offer a range of printmaking workshops and whilst out and about with the Touring Caravan Gallery give demos and 1 to 1 workshops in the tiny 10ft space. I also take people out walking and teach printmaking on the hoof!
If you could be anything else what would you be? A musician, but the hours are very unsociable
One favourite living artist / designer? Ian Mitchell (my husband) - he is as mad about art and design as I am and encourages and supports and joins me in a totally uncompromised artistic lifestyle
One favourite historical artist / designer? Prunella Clough - so many reasons as artist & educator - she opened the door to me seeing and responding to the landscape in a way far beyond the picturesque.
Who / what has had most influence on your work? Walking & travelling through the landscape
What is the most interesting / fun job you have had?
Curating and traveling around with the Touring Caravan Gallery. Back in 2010 we bought a tiny 1960s vintage Sprite caravan and converted it into a touring gallery space. Taking it to an array of music festivals and other salubrious spaces the aim was to take art to places not normally reached whilst at the same time promoting our newly established gallery Duckett and Jeffreys. The caravan has been such fun and so well received that we have now made Duckett and Jeffreys totally nomadic. This year we have plans to take the caravan across the Alps using it as a studio along the way.
What is your most prized item of art?
A fantastic 'mouth' painting by Sally Taylor that Ian bought me for my 50th birthday. When we opened Duckett and Jeffreys Sally was our first artist. Her work has gone from strength to strength, her work being repeatedly selected for the Jerwood drawing prize and last year been shown at the Venice Biennale. Sally's work is usually quite small but the painting that adorns my wall is huge - much larger than Sally herself. How it was hidden from me I don't know.
What item of design / craft do you covet most? Gosh this is difficult. A huge influence on my work has been Prunella Clough. Her etching 'Off the Tracks' 1977 is one I would love, in the meantime the closest I can get to it is the Tate.
Last book / film that blew your mind?Book - Helen Mirra - Field Recordings 1 - 3
Film - Le Quattro Volte - Michelangelo Frammartino
What are you listening to? Kevin Coyne - Marjory Razorblade
How many hours do you waste on the internet each day? I spend a lot of time online but I don't see it as wasteful
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
I live where I choose and love it where I am
Where and what is your studio? Here and there. I have a print studio at home and the base of Duckett and Jeffreys along with a painting studio in an old porto cabin in a paddock. We have recently set up a studio base from a tiny retreat in Staithes - a place by the sea where we can work and where I can offer print workshops and art residencies along with accommodation. I also have a mobile print set up that I can pack into a rucksack and use when I am out walking or in the Touring Caravan Gallery. Currently I am on a AA2A residency at Hull College and have access to a fantastic print studio.
Three words that describe your feeling of doing your work? Walk, mark, make
Chips or mash? Mash