Tag Archives: Lindisfarne

Fiona finds colour in nature’s treasures of the deep

In our latest feature on North East creative talent we talk to artist Fiona Carvell who is based in the Northumberland countryside near Shotley Bridge.

Lindisfarne by Fiona Carvell
Lindisfarne by Fiona Carvell

Where exactly in the North East are you based?

On the border of County Durham and Northumberland, perched on the edge of the Pennines – beautiful space! Fine Studios at Fine House Farm, Kiln Pit Hill, Consett. DH8 9SL.

How would you describe your work?

Ideas-led, which means I let the subject matter inspire and direct how I respond (as opposed to working in the same way, or having a ‘style’ regardless of subject). Visually, I am interested in line and space, the connections between objects and relationships of pattern in nature.

Tell us how you first started out as an artist?

I graduated as an illustrator and moving image designer, which led to work both as a freelance Illustrator in publishing and then a career in broadcasting. I later moved into teaching but throughout all of this never stopped drawing. I would finish a shift for doing the on-air graphics for Sky News and then go straight to a life drawing class! Teaching in F.E. meant I could spend more time experimenting with materials but it wasn’t until I started running community-based art classes that I finally realised I needed to create more of my own art. It was clamouring to get out!

Fiona Carvell
North East artist, Fiona Carvell

My love affair with pastel started around this time and a few years later I entered a piece for the Pastel Society Open Exhibition in London which made the first selection round. I was invited to be a Unison Colour Associate Artist soon after this, which I am immensely proud of, especially as they are a North East company and sell around the world.

I was offered studio space at Fine Studios at the end of 2016, which is perfect for me as it’s just a few miles from home and an amazing place to run workshops from.

Which work are you most proud of?

Probably ‘Treasure of The Deep’, which was the first of my seaweed series. It was very big (over 3ft high once framed) which is huge for a pastel piece, and incredibly detailed.

Treasure of the Deep
Treasure of the Deep by Fiona Carvell

What inspires you?

Lots of things – I go through obsessions! I had a thing about grasses and then trees for a while last year and my current theme seems to be seaweed. I am drawn to connections in nature – patterns of line and surprises of colour, that echo from one life form to another.

What influence if any does North East England have in inspiring your work?

The North East has a wealth of inspirational landscapes. From the Pennines to the beautiful Northumberland coastline, there is so much to draw upon. My parents live on the coast and so I spend quite a bit of time photographing and sketching at beaches and castles.

What has been your most challenging creation?

Probably ‘Treasure of The Deep’. There were so many colours in each tiny section, that I would cover only a few inches a day at some points. It drove me to distraction. I would often go to the studio in my running gear so I could run a few miles of tension off in between pastel painting!

Do you have any tips for up and coming artists?

Work hard, be practical and approach what you do as any profession. If you seriously want to develop a career as an artist, you must get the balance between personal creation/production and all the other stuff that makes it possible. Admin, promotions, attending events, keeping galleries supplied and happy are all part and parcel of the job. As a qualified teacher I still enjoy teaching workshops and have found this a valuable part of my practice as it helps to develop my own artwork.

Resilience by Fiona Carvell
Resilience by Fiona Carvell

Which other artists or photographers inspire you?

My favourite pastel artist is probably Sarah Bee. Just gorgeous line work and energy. The most inspiring exhibition I attended was in Paris a few years ago by fashion designer, Issey Miyake. He presented fabric as lines and forms of pleated colour in the most astonishing display that played with light and shade. I am a great believer in looking at everything the world presents to you for potential inspiration – it can come from anywhere.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I have just returned from running my first pastel workshop in France, (which was fabulous!) and I now have another planned for May 2019. I am also in the midst of planning my workshops at Fine Studios for 2019 alongside exhibitions at various venues across the country.

Long term, I would love to exhibit with the Pastel Society, that would be an achievement and a great honour.

Anything else you’d like to add?

My work is currently on display and for sale at Number Four Gallery, St.Abbs, Scotland www.numberfourgallery.co.uk

You can also buy my prints at Gallery 45 in Felton www.feltongallery45.co.uk

and at The Links Gallery in Whitley Bay www.linksgallery.org

You can catch me in person and my latest work at Art in the Pen, Skipton, Yorkshire, between August 11th and 12th. www.artinthepen.org.uk

For more information regarding my French workshop in 2019 go to www.sweetnothings.eu

I am also available for demonstrations or to to run art workshops in pastel and drawing at art groups and societies.

See more of Fiona’s work at:

www.fionacarvellart.co.uk

 

Holy Island ‘paradise’ is an inspiration for Emma

DAVID SIMPSON speaks to Emma Rothera, a Holy Island-based award winning landscape and nature photographer. Part of our series of interviews focusing on creative talent in North East England.

Holy Island. Photo by Emma Rothera
Holy Island. Photographed by Emma Rothera

Tell us how you first started out as a photographer?

I went to Art College straight from School when I was 16 years old to study Graphic Design Communication and Photography.

What work are you most proud of?

My Holy Island portfolio of work  ‘A Journey of Light’

What inspires you?

Being out in the landscape and being privileged enough to witness nature during the most inspirational moments in time, first light, sunrise, sunset and last light, also the majestic golden hour.

What influence if any does North East England have in inspiring your work?

It is just a completely magnificent canvas to work with, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

What has been your most challenging creation?

They are all challenging within there own right. Landscape photography tests the ability of a photographer on a daily basis as you are constantly working with mother nature and often unpredictable elements, so therefore much planning must take place.

Emma Rothera, photographer
Emma Rothera, photographer

Do you have any tips for up and coming artists or photographers?

You need to have a constant passion for what you do and be prepared for it to take a lot of hard work, inspiration and dedication to achieve your goals.

Which other artists or photographers inspire you?

There are many talented photographers in this world, a couple that inspire me are Charlie Waite and Ansel Adams.

What are your ambitions for the future?

To constantly push my boundaries to improve my photography and creativity further on a daily basis. I hope to offer further opportunities for learning to aspiring photographers through my workshops and discovery tours in the North East Region, predominantly the Northumberland Coastline and Holy Island. To produce further contributions to magazines and books and extend my portfolio of work. I hope to expand further commissions within the North East and in the UK, including Scotland and abroad.  I also hope to travel the world with my work in the future, photographing and writing as I go. I will always keep my base on Holy Island as this for me is paradise.

Bamburgh Castle by Emma Rothera
Bamburgh Castle. Photographed by Emma Rothera

To find out more about Emma, her inspirational photographs and her workshops visit Emma’s website at:

emmarotheraphotography.com

Twitter: @erotheraphoto 

Awards

Emma is a multi-award winning landscape and nature photographer. Accolades include:

  • 2017 Winner of the ‘Creative Industries Award’ Northumberland Business Awards
  • 2018 Shortlisted for the ‘Creative Industry Category’ Northumberland Business Awards
  • 2016 Winner of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Photography Award
  • 2015 Landscape photographer of the week, worldwide@Landscape photography magazine.

Cathedral’s Treasures are the ‘Tutankhamun of the North-East’

JONATHAN JONES  visits the wonderful Treasures of St Cuthbert that are finally back on display at Durham Cathedral in a superb new setting that drew audible gasps at the official unveiling.

St Cuthbert's Cross: Treasures of St Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral
St Cuthbert’s Cross: Treasures of St Cuthbert, Durham Cathedral

Anglo-Saxon artefacts, dating back more than 1,300 years, and belonging to monk, bishop and hermit, St Cuthbert, have gone back on display in Durham Cathedral. The relics, including the coffin in which St Cuthbert’s body was carried from Lindisfarne, to its final resting place on the site of Durham Cathedral, and the gold cross he wore around his neck, are the centrepiece of The Treasures of St Cuthbert, which opened to the public at the weekend.

The relics were described as the “Tutankhamun” of the North-East, by cultural historian and Anglo-Saxon specialist, Dr Janina Ramirez at the official launch of the exhibition.

Dr Janina Ramirez and an of Durham, The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett
Dr Janina Ramirez and the Dean of Durham, The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett

She admitted that the excitement of seeing the relics, back in their rightful home, in a purpose-built exhibition inside Durham Cathedral, had made her unable to sleep the previous night.

The ornately carved coffin, featuring runic and Latin inscriptions, is rightfully, the centrepiece of the exhibition, and is regarded as the most important surviving relic from before the time of the Norman Conquest.

Images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, apostles and archangels are still visible on the incredibly preserved oak fragments, and brought audible gasps from the clergy, scholars, officials and journalists gathered to witness them for the first time in their new home, in a specially developed exhibition space inside the cathedral.

The coffin of St Cuthbert forms the centrepiece of the permanent exhibition in the cathedral's great kitchen
The coffin of St Cuthbert forms the centrepiece of the permanent exhibition in Durham Cathedral’s Great Kitchen.

Dr Ramirez said: “Some people think that there is a time in the history of Western Europe when the lights went out – when the civilisation and refinement of the Roman Empire was replaced by a Dark Age, visible to us only through a glass darkly; through scraps of archaeology, fragments of enigmatic text, and the bones of early medieval people, who walked a thousand four hundred years before us.

“But the Cuthbert Treasures fly in the face of this theory: from the complex, visual riddles engraved across the oldest surviving example of wood carving on Cuthbert’s coffin, to the gold and garnet splendour of his pectoral cross; from the continental elegance of the ceremonial comb, to the remarkable examples of Opus Anglicanum, recognised at the time as the best embroidery in the known world, the Cuthbert Treasures bring colour, depth and drama to the so-called Dark Ages.”

She continued: “At their very heart lies a unique individual who was both Anglo-Saxon warrior, and early Christian Bishop. His connection to the North East means we can walk in the footsteps of arguably England’s most important saint.”

The exhibits are housed in the Great Kitchen, which has been transformed into a world-class exhibition space, following a year of environmental monitoring, to ensure the relics are kept in the right conditions to ensure their continued longevity.

Comb, thought to have belonged to St Cuthbert
Anglo-Saxon comb, thought to have belonged to St Cuthbert

The project has seen the construction of purpose built exhibition and gallery space in the Cathedral, with access to the treasures themselves being monitored at all times. Indeed, access to the space itself, felt more like entering the Star Ship Enterprise, than the stone walls of the Cathedral.

Visitors were beckoned into a chamber, through which they could see the artefacts beyond another door. Once the environment was stabilised, the inner door opened, granting access to view the fabulous treasures, in glass cases that only enhance their true beauty.

The relics of St Cuthbert, previously on display in the Cathedral’s undercroft, have been in storage for the past six years, during the main phase of the project.

The creation of this space, marks the completion of the Cathedral’s £10.9million investment in the Open Treasure project. The project has been generously supported by a £3.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Speaking at the launch, Jim Cokill, Member of the North-East Committee for the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “A place of worship for thousands and a spectacular attraction drawing visitor from near and far to the city, Durham Cathedral is a heritage treasure in the North East. The Treasures of St Cuthbert and the Open Treasures Exhibition will not only boost the Cathedral’s continuing popularity but will also keep its visitors at the heart of heritage.”

The Conyers flachion, a medieval sword used in a ceremony for newly appointed Bishops of Durham is another highlight of the exhibition.
The Conyers Falchion, a medieval sword, used in a ceremony for newly appointed Bishops of Durham, is another highlight of the exhibition.

But perhaps the final word should go to the Dean of Durham, The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett. He said: “It is very fitting that the final jewel in the crown of Open Treasure is centred on St Cuthbert, in whose honour Durham Cathedral was built.

“The launch of the Treasures of St Cuthbert on permanent display in their new home marks a new phase in the life of Durham Cathedral and its exhibition experience Open Treasure.”

Among the Treasures of St Cuthbert on display are:

  • St Cuthbert’s wooden coffin, widely regarded as the most important example of Pre-Conquest woodwork, and finely engraved with linear images, Latin lettering and Anglo-Saxon runes
  • St Cuthbert’s pectoral cross, a 7th century gold and garnet cross designed to be worn on a chain around his neck.
  • St Cuthbert’s portable altar, used to support his missionary work in the North East. It is believed to be the oldest surviving portable altar, dating from 660AD.
  • The original Sanctuary door knocker, dating from the 12th Century, and one of Durham’s most enduring symbols. Originally attached to the North Door of Durham Cathedral, those who had committed a crime could rap on the door knocker and be given 37 days of sanctuary, during which time they could reconcile with their enemies, or plan their escape.

The Treasures of St Cuthbert are now on permanent display within Open Treasure in the Great Kitchen, one of only two surviving medieval monastic kitchens in the UK. Tickets cost from £2.50 – £7.50, and are available online and from the visitor desk at Durham Cathedral. For more information visit www.durhamcathedral.co.uk, or telephone 0191 386 4266.