Showcase to support northern artists at Festival of Thrift

An exciting line up of emerging talent has been announced by Middlesbrough arts organisation Navigator North as part of a project to support up and coming artists at the 2017 National Festival of Thrift.

Three emerging northern artists have been selected following a recent regional call out to take part in Navigator North’s Latest Edition project that aims to help artists to develop ways of becoming more financially savvy and making a living from their creativity.

The selected artists each receive a bursary to create new work for the Festival and will be supported by Navigator North, Festival of Thrift and established artists Nick Kennedy, Theresa Easton and Alex Sickling.

The works which will then be toured after the event at Kirkleatham near Redcar on 23 and 24 September to three regional exhibition venues in 2018 including Palace Arts in Redcar, The Witham in Barnard Castle and Hartlepool Art Gallery.

Vicky Holbrough, Navigator North Co-Director explained that the focus of the Latest Edition project is on developing sustainable practice for artists.

“The artists will be exploring a range of possible income streams which will enhance their creative practice”.

“This will include working with the established artists and being supported by Navigator North and the Festival of Thrift director, to find out how to make work for exhibition and commission as well as sales of original and limited edition works and artist merchandise.”

The artists selected for the Latest Edition project are a Teesside ceramicist and textile designer, Diane Watson; self-taught textile artist Carol Devey-Haughton who also lives and works on Teesside; and illustrator Becki Harper who grew up in Middlesbrough and now lives in York.

Diane has thrown herself fully into her own practice following redundancy from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD), as a Fashion and Textile course leader in 2016, taking long contemplative walks along the beautiful north east coastline with her rescue greyhound Bobby, to inspire her environmentally-themed work.

Carol’s creative practice is rooted in sketching and ‘drawing’ with her sewing machine. Responding to Teesside’s varied beauty and stark contrasts between the countryside and industrial heritage, Carol is interested in the characters and landscapes of the fields, forests and urban environments where she lives, using reclaimed fabrics and print elements with her work.

Becki’s work explores narrative strongly blended with curiosity and nostalgia, whilst drawing inspiration from nature and science and her passion for creating things by hand has led to more recent work including illustrated embroideries and painted ceramics.

They will be supported by established artists Alex Sickling, an illustrator and ceramicist who has worked with Anthropologie and The Hepworth and has recently exhibited at The New Craftsmen in London; printmaker and book artist Theresa Easton, one of the founding members of newly formed trade union Artists’ Union England; and drawing based artist Nick Kennedy whose work has featured in solo and group exhibitions across the UK and in Germany.

Festival of Thrift Director, Stella Hall said Navigator North’s Latest Edition project perfectly reflects the Festival’s aims to help build a creative community: “It’s about empowering artists with business acumen and upskilling them by giving them increased commercial awareness which they can test out first-hand with the 40,000 plus visitors we are expecting.

“Making artists more business-aware will feed back into the communities where they live and work, both financially and culturally, as well as increasing the sustainability of the local economy by making it more diverse.”

The 2017 Festival of Thrift takes place on 23 + 24 September at Kirkleatham Museum and Grounds.  This fifth national celebration of stylish and sustainable living focuses on growing and the power of nature and how people can be empowered by sharing differing points of view of the world as well as ideas, thoughts, experiences and skills.

Last year’s Festival attracted over 35,000 visitors and figures after the event revealed that it boosted the local economy to the tune of £1/2M with this expenditure by visitors supporting 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.


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