In our latest interview featuring creative people in the region we talk to 40-year-old Ouseburn-based artist Joanne Wishart.
Where in the North East are you based?
My studio is based at the Mushroom Works in Ouseburn, Newcastle, but I live a little nearer the coast in North Shields.
How would you describe your work?
My work is colourful and quirky capturing nostalgic seaside memories of days out at the coast, in particular the North East coast. I have an extensive back catalogue of works depicting Northumberland’s favourite coastal landmarks. I like to paint summer days and sunny skies to create images that will give you a lift and make you smile.
I work mainly with acrylic paint but I like to add a bit of collage material including fabrics and old maps into my work to give added layers and a textured surface. My ideas have developed over the years and have introduced new work including driftwood boat sculptures, and deckchair artworks.
Tell us how you first started out as an artist?
I’ve always been creative ever since I was a child. Then after school I went on to study Printed Textile design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. As part of my degree I spent a term in Nova Scotia studying at their art college, which was a fabulous experience.
I would say the progression form graduation to where I am today was a slow process, I initially got work freelancing for agents in the U.K. and New York designing Hawaiian shirt prints and children’s furnishing fabrics. I also worked part time in a small gallery and picture framers. In 2006 I met my now husband and moved from Berwick upon Tweed to North Tyneside and together we set up our current business where we self publish my paintings into limited edition prints and greetings cards and we haven’t looked back.
What work are you most proud of?
I do love the old 1940’s deckchair frames with my paintings on the canvas. They are something just a little bit different and really capture the essence of seaside nostalgia.
I am also proud to have won North East England’s “Best Creative Business” in 2009. I am proud to be able to make my way in the world doing what I love for a living.
What influence if any does North East England have in inspiring your work?
Growing up near Berwick upon Tweed and now living in North Tyneside, North East England has so much to offer in terms of inspiration.
What inspires you?
I love the great outdoors, the beauty of the North East coastline, the coastal landscape, the sun, the sea, the flowers and animals. Most of my inspiration comes from walking the coastal paths or spending a sunny day on the beach with my kids. I like to get out and about with my sketchbook and camera, taking it all back to my studio with a head full of ideas.
What has been your most challenging creation?
My most challenging creation has to be my exhibition in the Bridge Gallery at Tynemouth station. It is such an unusual space to hang work in and that can be view from both sides of the walkway. I am used to hanging a painting on a flat wall so I had to think differently to make this exhibition work as a whole.
Do you have any tips for up and coming artists?
My tips would be to work hard, create your own style, evolve and develop. Go into galleries and ask for feedback (make an appointment first, you will get a better response!), learn from this and don’t let the knock backs get you down. An artist’s life is a rollercoaster and you never know what is around the next corner.
Which other artists or photographers inspire you.
I try not to get too inspired by other artists work so that my own signature style develops.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I would love to run my own studio gallery one day, this might be when my kids get a bit older, but for the moment I am happy juggling being a mum and artist.
If you would like to visit my studio at the Mushroom Works and see where the magic happens please pop along to Ouseburn Open Studios on the 30th June & 1st July. The Mushroom Works will be open to the public and welcomes visitors behind the scenes. I will have a selection of new North East paintings on show in the Mushroom Works gallery and will be on hand to talk to anyone in my studio.