Ones to watch

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 April 2014

Anna Mazek McDermott - The painter

Anna Mazek McDermott - The painter


Art has always been a strong part of Devon’s history, and the local art scene is booming with new creative talent that is just waiting to be discovered. What better way to showcase and celebrate what Devon has to offer than by searching the county for the rising stars that are set to do us proud? Here are our picks of the ‘ones to watch’

Devon’s art scene is booming and is jam packed full of new creative talent that is just waiting to be discovered. The likes of Teignmouth’s Luke Friend have recently burst into the national spotlight (see our Q&A with the X Factor star on page XXX), while others lie waiting patiently to see their name in lights. So what better way to showcase what Devon has to offer than by exploring the county searching for the rising stars that are set to do us proud? Here are our picks of the ‘ones to watch’.

To see an image of each of the people mentioned in this article, simply view the gallery to the right hand side of this page.

The actress:

Rose Reynolds, 23, from Exeter has starred alongside Simon Pegg in a Box Office hit, and currently performs with the Royal Shakespeare Company

When did you develop an interest in theatre?

I joined an independent theatre arts school, Stage by Stage, when I was ten. We would meet once a week and would work primarily on musicals, putting on shows three times a year. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed for eight years.

Give a brief outline of your theatre career to date

When I was 15 I joined the National Youth Theatre (NYT), and after finishing my three-week induction course I was offered a role in Juliet Knight’s political play Prime Resident. The play ran at the Soho theatre for six weeks. From there I went to the Guildhall School of Music in Drama, and after graduating I worked with Patrick Sandford, playing Baby Doll in Tennessee Williams’ Tiger Tail at the Nuffield Theatre. The same year I acted alongside Simon Pegg in The World’s End. I then joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)’s Swan Company in the summer of 2013.

What has been the highlight of your theatre career so far?

There have been so many. Being part of an RSC ensemble for six months is up there, as is moving to London with the NYT for work aged 15. Another highlight is meeting extraordinarily talented, interesting people, from whom I have learnt so much.

Who is your inspiration?

I think Anne-Marie Duff is a fantastic, underrated actress. I saw her in Cause Celebre a few years ago and was completely blown away. Anna Maxwell-Martin’s ability to juxtapose absolute brute steel with tragic vulnerability is extremely impressive. And Olivia Colman’s quirky, yet entirely focused energy makes her very, very watchable.

What is your next project?

I’m in the process of meeting with directors and casting directors to discuss new projects. Hopefully something in April, but I can’t jinx anything!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Continuing to work and develop in as many realms as I can; theatre, screen, even radio, if I’m very lucky.

The architect:

Caroline Shortt, 34, from Exeter set up her own architecture firm in 2012

When did you develop an interest in architecture?

Aged 18 – I was looking for a career that was both artistic and academic and a career advisor suggested I looked into architecture. The more I learned about it the more I knew it would be a perfect fit for me.

Tell us a little about your architecture career to date

I graduated from an architecture course at The Dublin School of Architecture in 2004 and have since worked on a number of award-winning buildings. I worked with Jestico + Whiles in London designing boutique hotels in Europe and large residential schemes in the UK. I moved to Exeter five years ago to set up a branch of BasMoorarc, who I had been working with in Guernsey, then I set up Barc Architects in 2012.

What has been the highlight of your architecture career so far?

Winning the RIBA Downland Prize for the Etoile du Nord – a beautiful contemporary home for which I was Project Architect on in Guernsey.

Who inspires you?

Alvar Aalto – a Finnish architect and designer. I love Scandinavian design and Aalto was the master of it.

What is your next project?

We have lots in the pipeline. Our Beach House project overlooking Saunton Sands in North Devon is currently on site and will be completed by the end of the year. It will be a stunning contemporary house which maximises the incredible views out to sea and across the dunes.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Continuing to run a successful architecture practice in Devon, having created a wide portfolio of inspirational, quality buildings across the county for a wealth of happy clients.

The singer/songwriter:

Cloudi Lewis, 22, from Dawlish has recorded at the infamous Abbey Road studio, and is performing at a festival with Newton Faulkner this summer

When did you develop an interest in music?

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved music. My mum is a massive music lover and always surrounded me and my siblings with music, so it felt natural to start singing and to teach myself how to play the guitar.

Give a brief outline of your music career so far

When I was about 15 I’d traipse around the local pubs in Dawlish and perform, and from there I started writing my own songs and dedicated all my time to it. By the time I was 18 I was starting to take myself seriously as a singer/songwriter. I started building up a fan base and performing as regularly as I could. I did a Kickstarter campaign which raised enough funds for me and the band I put together to record my first EP, Casual Conversations with a Woodpigeon.

What has been the highlight of your music career so far?

I think winning a competition to record one of my songs at Abbey Road has to be up there; it was such a fun experience and I learnt a lot. My EP release is another of my favourite memories. Putting on your own event is a very nerve-wracking thing, and for people to turn up, fill the room and sing along is an amazing feeling.

Who is your inspiration?

My songs are influenced by my life experiences and people I know. My sound is influenced by indie folk artists, such as Ben Howard, Laura Marling and Damien Rice.

When is your next performance?

I’m playing at Behind the Castle Festival in June, where I’m on the same bill as Newton Faulkner and Seth Lakeman. Other than that, I only have weddings booked so far!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Ideally making a living from my passion. Either way, I’ll always be expressing myself through my music no matter how successful I am.

The painter:

Anna Mazek McDermott, 55, from Exeter uses Russian vodka to create her art

When did you develop an interest in art?

When I was 5-years-old and fell in love with my red and brown pencils and my painting by numbers set.

Give a brief outline of your art career to date

I was accepted onto a BA course at St Martin’s Art College in London, but had to decline due to financial reasons. I decided to return to my passion again in 2008 after a 30 year break from the arts, and was immediately taken up by a local gallery. I’ve exhibited and sold ever since.

What has been the highlight of your art career so far?

My ‘eureka’ moment in 2008, whilst sitting outside a pub in Topsham, sipping a Guinness. I watched someone spill vodka into a puddle and it reacted with some car oil that was in it. The chemical reaction was amazing, and it was at this point I realised I needed to mix my acrylic paints with vodka. It causes the paint to behave in extraordinary ways and it changed my art completely.

Who is your inspiration?

So far, I believe I am unique in my field, as I love to create artworks that focus on iridescent colour, light and reflection; possessing a visual fluidity and ambient response to any environment. I achieve this by using my special acrylic vodka paint mix on unusual surfaces, such as aluminium foil, slate stone and industrial vintage baking trays. Having said that, I am currently inspired by Faberge and Gustav Klimt.

What is your next project/exhibition?

I shall be exhibiting at the recently opened L’estauire restaurant on Topsham Quay. I’m also planning to expand my techniques to include other creative areas such as sculpture and glass.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully surrounded by empty vodka bottles, lots of ‘sold’ red dots, and a smile on my face.

The writer:

Kate Sermon, 41, from Totnes published her first novel last year
When did you develop an interest in writing literature?

It’s boring and predictable but I’ve always written; I have a truly awful folder of poetry which I penned when I was 16. Throughout my childhood I was constantly reading books that were totally inappropriate for my age. I remember borrowing a copy of The Exorcist when I was 12 from Totnes Library and reading it under my duvet at night by torchlight.

Give a brief outline of your literary career to date

I studied English Literature at university for a year before studying Journalism at the London College of Printing. I decided though that journalism wasn’t for me after all, and longed to return to Devon. From here I freelanced for a few articles and features in national newspapers, and even had a short story and poem published. Then my first novel, Dark Sleepers, was published by Hot Geeks Books in March last year.

What has been the highlight of your literary career so far?

It was definitely the day Dark Sleepers was published. To hold a copy of my very own book in my hands was amazing.

Who is your inspiration?

I adore Philip Pullman. To me, His Dark Materials is so far unsurpassed. As a writer of a young adult trilogy, I can only raise my hat to his talent. The mixture of real life and fantasy has always appealed to me, and he does that so well. I also love Joanne Harris; she likes to weave magical themes into her stories, something that greatly appeals to my writing too.

What is your next book?

I’m currently editing the sequel to Dark Sleepers, which is called Dark Minds. We’re unsure of a release date yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be sometime this year. I’m also working on a book of poetry and an adult novel.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Still living and writing in Devon, hopefully with at least 10 books in my back catalogue and able to make a living solely from my writing. I love the flexibility that writing gives me as a mother of three children. Besides, I could never stop. Ever.

The sculptor:

Alarik Greenland, 28, from Totnes creates stunning crystal wire tree sculptures for local communities

When did you develop an interest in sculpture?

When I was about seven years old, I met a lodger who was living in my neighbour’s house. He made beautiful crystal trees, exceptional to anything I had seen before and seen since. I was desperate to learn and recreate his magic so he taught me.

Give a brief outline of your sculpture career to date

After being taught the basics by my neighbour’s lodger, I practised and developed my new passion, spending a lot of my time in nature observing trees. I studied Environmental Education at university, and have been teaching arts in schools and environmental organisations. My latest tree is my favourite – it’s the only one that I’ve made to sell; the older ones have all been an exploration and a test.

What has been the highlight of your sculpture career so far?

Just taking in people’s emotions when they see my creations, because it is like a déjà-vu from my childhood when I saw my teacher’s trees. It’s symbolic for me – by creating these trees I’m achieving my childhood dream.

Who is your inspiration?

Strangely, David Attenborough’s documentary on the origin of species was very inspiring, where he showed the worlds most beautiful Trilobite fossils. You have to see it to understand I think. Another inspiration would be when I listen to certain types of music, I imagine working collaboratively with the music artists. These artists include, Youssou N’dour (African singer) and Two Steps From Hell (Epic Classical Rock).

What is your next project?

It’s a secret I’m afraid!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope that I meet successful artists and make good money, because I want my work to serve nature. I want my trees to fund my local tree planting charity, Moor Trees, and make them bigger than Greenpeace.

The dancer:

Richard Chappell, 19, from Torbay has trained as an Associate of the Royal Ballet School and set up his own dance company in 2012

When did you develop an interest in dance?

I started dancing when I was three years old at a local dance school in Brixham with teachers Alison Axford and Joanne Lovell-Healy at the Alison Axford Theatre School.

Give a brief outline of your dancing career to date

After starting dancing locally in Devon alongside the Royal Ballet School Associate Programme and London Dance Theatre, I continued my training at Tring Park School for Performing Arts. My first major piece of choreography was for the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain (NYB), winning the Frank Freeman Choreographic Award for my piece, Again and Again. I then trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, before founding my own dance company, Richard Chappell Dance in 2012, which has performed my work in theatres across the country.

What has been the highlight of your dance career so far?

Performing Again and Again on the Sadler’s Wells Main Stage. The piece was a personal tribute to my old teacher, Frank Freeman, who passed away several months beforehand, so it was emotional. Another highlight was Richard Chappell Dance’s first independent performance in a major London Theatre at the Artsdepot in September 2013.

Who is your inspiration?

I am inspired by aspects of many different choreographers from all around the world but get a lot of my inspiration from other sources. At the moment I am very inspired by sculptor Anna Gillespie and electric cellist Stephen Sharp Nelson.

What is your next project/performance?

An educational project with Richard Chappell Dance (RCD) in May, followed by Project ‘NightRide’ - a short RCD film we are making and filming on Dartmoor this summer.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I would like to be running a major British Dance Company based in the South West and London which performs my work both nationally and internationally. As I love to teach I would also like my company to be at the forefront of pre-vocational dance training in the South West of England. As another aspect of my work is choreographing for ballet companies, I would also love to make work on some of Britain’s larger ballet companies for their mixed bills. But ten years is a long way away, who knows what will happen!

This article was first published in the April issue of Devon Life. To get the magazine delivered every month to your home, subscribe at or call 08448484217

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