5 talented Devon artists to watch

PUBLISHED: 13:37 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 18 August 2020

William Mills from Torbay with his work Lost in Translation. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography

William Mills from Torbay with his work Lost in Translation. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography


Dozens of artists will welcome visitors for this year’s Devon Open Studios

Goodrington Lake by James MurchGoodrington Lake by James Murch

In September the much-needed artistic distraction that is the Devon Open Studios will connect artists with local art lovers and the many visitors flocking to the region.

Devon is brimming with talented artists who are keen to open their studios to the general public, giving their work exposure, feedback, and sales.

Many Devon artists have suffered extreme financial hardship during the lockdown period and Devon Open Studios enables them to sell their work without commission straight to the public, allowing a crucial economic boost in these unprecedented times.

Ceramicist Jennifer Amon. Photo: Grace Hannah PhotographyCeramicist Jennifer Amon. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography

After consultations the participants felt that they could manage and control the social distancing procedures and allow the public access to their studios many of which are separate buildings or annexes.

Organisers have undertaken work to meet the needs of artists and follow Covid-19 social distancing rules. This has involved a larger scale digital marketing campaign and creating an online ‘flippable’ brochure for those who want to see work remotely (and prepare for any sudden lockdowns). Almost 200 artists will show their work at venues all over the county.

This year the Devon Artist Network panel chose five bursary winners who receive a Bursary Award of £165 to cover their participation costs. As part of the award, the overall winner also receives the Joanna Radford prize for materials, making this award worth £315.

Landscape artist  James Murch. Photo:  Grace Hannah PhotographyLandscape artist James Murch. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography

This year’s winner is Torbay-born abstract painter William Mills who will be showing at the Artizan Gallery in Lucius Street, Torquay. The central theme underpinning William’s work is the ongoing journey in understanding personal identity and how it is shaped over the passage of time. He says: “Presented through something between landscapes and skyscapes, these paintings seek to capture the delicate moment of gazing out over the journey ahead, bruised by the darkness that came before, and overwhelmed by the difficulties that lie in wait, yet clinging to this desperate optimism that you’ll find your way through. To my knowledge, there is no better opportunity for Devon-based artists to connect with a broader and more engaged audience than that provided by Devon Open Studios. Not only is it a superb platform through which to share my work, but inviting people to enjoy it in the space that it’s developed adds a completely fresh and intimate context to the art that can perhaps get lost in the traditional exhibition.”

The four other bursary winners are:

Textile artist Jessica Cutler. Photo:  Grace Hannah PhotographyTextile artist Jessica Cutler. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography

Ceramicist Jennifer Amon from Liverton, Teignbridge. A fine art ceramicist whose vessels are hand-built using coil and pinch methods. From her workshop in South Devon, Jennifer takes her inspiration both from the natural world around her and ancient civilisations. Jennifer’s approach when forming the piece is to work from the inside out, intuitively finding the internal shape and creating an internal tautness. Much like natural forces, Jennifer’s forms emerge in series, metamorphosing through infinite new variations. Surfaces are thinly coated with multi-layers of slips and glazes, gradually built up and worn away. Each rhythmic mark made during the process of pinching into the soft clay is accentuated by glaze pooling into the hollows. The colours are sometimes muted and subtle or shockingly contrasting, all to be found within nature’s palette. The vessels are fired several times, until the desired quality of colour and texture is achieved. She will be exhibiting at Black Barns, Gorse Blossom Farm Cottages, Staplehill Road, Liverton.

Textile artist Jess Cutler from Tiverton. Jessica is a hand weaver whose studio is located amongst a small woodland in the heart of mid-Devon. It’s home to her four looms with a small wood burning stove to keep her cosy in the colder months. The inspiration for her work stems from her rural Devon surroundings. She says: “I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I step outside and am inspired daily by the beauty of nature. There is an ever-changing palette of colour, textures and pattern which bring life to my textiles.” Jessica is starting a textile business producing made-to-order products. Her beautiful textiles are fully biodegradable and recyclable, each are woven using 100% wool. She will be showing her work in her studio at Old Court works, Bickleigh, Tiverton.

Landscape painter James Murch from Paignton. Self- taught, Devonshire born and bred, James is inspired by the world that surrounds him. His work examines the connectivity of light with colour and an appreciation of nature. James believes that combining curiosity and imagination with painting from life serves in developing his own unique visual language. He regularly takes his practice outdoors after the ‘en plein air’ traditions of the French impressionists, the Barbizon school, and the preparatory works of Turner and Constable. He believes that this type of work captures what a camera does not and in this increasing age of digital consumption. The sounds, smells and even British weather conditions all contribute to his paintings. James has been shortlisted by the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and has appeared on Landscape Artist of the Year in 2019. He will be exhibiting within beautiful grounds at 15 Stable Yard Studios, Cockington Court, Cockington, Torquay.

Karen Hawkins works with mixed media. Photo:  Grace Hannah PhotographyKaren Hawkins works with mixed media. Photo: Grace Hannah Photography

Mixed media artist Karen Hawkins from Bideford. Karen has worked as a self-employed public artist and workshop provider running her business Oceanicarts for many years. She recently re-engaged with her own art practice to work on themes such as our deeper human connection to each other and to nature as our source for life. Karen is currently working with Enrol in London on an eight-month sociology based course exploring Deeper Human Connection.

Karen will be showing at The Craft Collective, Dartington Hall, Dartington, Totnes.

All the Devon Open Studios events are free and take place from 12 to 27 September. To find artists in your area check out the online brochure which provides a photograph and description of each artist’s work. An overview map and area maps which indicate the general location of each venue so you can see where clusters of artists are located for planning your day out. Each venue’s entry also provides detailed local directions and our black and yellow directional arrow signs placed on roadsides point the way to a venues as you get closer to them.

Have you joined the Devon Life Facebook page yet?

Latest from the Devon Life