Catching up with our past GAP Mentees

Image credit: Jacqui Symons

From 2018–21 Chrysalis Arts ran a mentoring programme where we worked with a small cohort of five artists from across the North. The Greening Arts Practice Mentoring Programme combined a range of in-house support from Chrysalis with financial support for external mentoring and other relevant professional development opportunities. The artists supported via the programme were: Sam Pickett, Jeni McConnell, Jessica Elleray, Anna Whitehouse and Jacqui Symons

This month we’ve caught up with a few of our past mentees to see where they are now, and what they have been up to following the programme.

Jacqui Symons

Credit: Jacqui Symons

Since finishing the Greening Arts Practice Mentoring Programme, Jacqui has been further developing her practice working with plant-based pigments. In 2019 Jacqui was awarded an Arts Council DYCP Grant for her project 'Dyeing (not Dying)'. During this project she developed plant-based pigments for printmaking. She then went on to successfully apply for funding to develop the website for her studio slowlanestudio.co.uk.

Slow Lane Studio forages, cultivates and uses plants to create colour for textiles, paper, printmaking and pigments.

The Studio provides resources, information, practical advice and workshops focusing on natural dyeing, plant-based pigments and plant-based artist colours. Alongside working on creative projects, residencies and commissions, Jacqui is developing a pigment garden and a plant pigment library as a reference and resource for other artists.

She also now runs a regular programme of workshops and courses on natural dyeing and printmaking with natural dyes at venues across the UK. She also hopes to develop a studio and residency programme where artists can learn about natural colour.

You can see more of Jacqui’s work on her Slow Lane Studio website and Instagram. You can purchase works, pigments and dyed wool through her Slow Lane Studio Etsy shop.

Sam Pickett

Image from a Hapa-zome Flag Workshop for Saturation Point Credit: Sam Pickett

Sam Pickett has been busy with her project Saturation Point, an 18 month participatory art project which started in January 2022. Every month Sam and a guest artist lead foraging events in woodland near Carnforth, North Lancashire. Each artist involved is selected for their unique specialisms which include natural dye making, fibre weaving, plant-based photography, fungi identification, herbalism, food foraging and folklore. During the walks they share knowledge, identify plants and wildlife and gather plant material. The plant materials are then used to produce a series of natural dye samples representing the seasons and colours of the landscape.

Sam also hold workshops once a month in her studio in Over Kellet. Visitors can learn about the dyeing process and experiment with monoprinting, clay work, Hapa-zome, natural inks and more. Over the winter the dyed material will be transformed into a textile artwork reflecting the changing climate in the area. The artwork will be accompanied by a film essay and exhibited next year in Carnforth Town Hall.

Sam has two upcoming free events scheduled for this Autumn. 29 Sept featuring Jacqui Symons (a fellow past mentee!) and 27 Oct featuring Mycologists Mycelium Matters. To sign up please contact Sam on Instagram @sampickettsap or Facebook @sampickettSAP

Learn more about Sam on her website and her Saturation Point Instagram.

Anna Whitehouse

Image of Anna Whitehouse's 100 Beetles 100 Days. Credit: David Lindsay

Following the success of her previous 100 days bottle project, Anna Whitehouse has recently finished a new 100 days project. She began the project on 1 January 2022, making 100 beetle sculptures in 100 days.

Anna chose to work in porcelain ‘to mirror the fragility of our ecosystems which we must handle with as much reverence and care as a fine porcelain vase, preciously handed down generation to generation.’

During the project, she invited people from around the world to participate by sending images of their local surroundings to inspire her daily work. Each beetle is named after the location of its source image.

Anna says ‘whilst the project has certainly challenged my making skills, I hope it will encourage others to explore their local area in a new way; noticing how the resident insects fit their specific habitats, and gain a greater appreciation of these extraordinary creatures.

Insects have evolved to all habitats imaginable, representing more than half of all known organisms on earth. The diversity of their forms, patterns and appendages are breath taking, and, for an artist, incredibly inspirational. These tiny life forms are also vital to the health of ecosystems globally. Insects often go unnoticed, but they are the cogs that make our world run smoothly. Start removing parts of the mechanism and it will soon stop ticking.

We are now living in the Anthropocene era, in which humans are directly affecting the natural world. These fictional beetles, evolving from their surroundings, create the space for us to think about our world in a different way. By imagining a future, we are also able to question our current place in time and the path that we are on.’

Learn more about the project on her website, see a map of the Beetle’s locations,  and order the project’s book. Find Anna on Instagram.

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