Six months after being born at home in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1969, the family moved to Belgium for eleven years.
Art and travel have always played a part in my life from an early age so going on to study Art History, Textiles and Design was the natural progression. It’s where I found my passion for photography, which remained merely a hobby until my husband, Mike, and I moved to Ferring, on the south coast, in 2011; where inspiration took over leading to an abundance of creative photography in the form of postcards and calendars, to begin with, developing over the years to include a wide range of photographic wall art on aluminum, acrylic, canvas, and wood; plus a range of gifts for the home, including textiles and lampshades. We initially moved with two cats, but now have six, and they love to meet and greet my customers.
My love of color, light, and texture is evident in my work and in 2016 I was invited by an artist friend to take part in the local art trail, Worthing Artists Open Houses. This proved a great success and prompted me to turn my outbuilding into a Gallery studio and host my own Open House in 2017. Due to popular demand, the studio has remained open and it’s where I enjoy experimenting with my photographs to create artistic images and découpage some on to canvas or wood.
It had been a struggle to find a long-term venue to exhibit my work due to a large amount of competition with other artists and photographers in the area, so having my own studio has led me to supportting other artists, inviting them to collaborate with me in my Open House and Studio. The two resident artists currently exhibiting with me handcraft jewelry, stained glass, and carved wood, providing an eclectic range of gifts that we offer “from Ferring with love”. Crafting is a hobby of mine too, from felting and painting to sewing embroidery and mosaics, and I am planning to start creating pieces for the studio.
Community is another key part of my ethos and we enjoy participating in local events and supporting small charities by donating prizes for their fundraisers. 2020 was a difficult year for many and saw a lot of small businesses turn to social media. This presented a challenge and was a big learning curve, but has resulted in a brand new Website, a Facebook group, and a Facebook shop, allowing the public to engage with us and view our work online. Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the possibility of re-opening in April and it will be so lovely to welcome our customers back; the studio has been a lonely place of late.
The future is looking bright and I look forward to many more Open Houses and working with many more artists.
Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like? Do you just do art or is art just part of the picture?
Cathy: My main form of art is Photography. It’s a passion that has stayed with me ever since college, where I studied Art and Design for several years. I also enjoy crafting and painting in my spare time as I find creativity very relaxing. My life is very eclectic, there is no ‘typical’ day, although most days I am working on my images or posting about my studio online. With a husband and six cats to attend to, my time is often in demand, and living by the sea, getting out and about daily helps with the mindset.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Cathy: I have always loved art from a young age and have endeavored to maintain it as part of my personal and professional life. Getting accepted to art college directly from school was a huge confidence boost and certainly fueled my desire to pursue the dream of being an artist in some form, although it wasn’t till we moved to Ferring on the south coast in 2011 that I was in a position to become a full-time photographer. There is so much inspiration on our doorstep it’s impossible to ignore and I felt compelled to capture moments of it and turn them into postcards and calendars for others to enjoy.
You say community is another key part of your ethos. Tell me more about your Open House Studio and your collaboration with other artists.
Cathy: My Blueview Art Studio is a result of meeting a fellow artist and taking part in her Open House as part of the Worthing Artists Open House (WAOH) Art Trail in 2016; an event that sees over 60 venues take part. It was a great feeling to be part of the art scene and so I turned my outbuilding into the studio you see today in order to host WAOH myself from 2017, when I invited artists to exhibit with me. Now, every year, I invite artists to collaborate with me in the studio and I’m hoping to hold my own Open House in July.
The villagers love the little studio and I enjoy participating in village events and give back to the community by donating pieces of my work to local charities for their fundraising events. I also volunteer as Curator at a local Arts Centre and organize the Worthing Portrait Artist of the Year, a popular art event with live portraiture, which will hopefully be returning in October.
What is a day of working like in your studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in ‘the zone’?
Cathy: There is no ritual or routine to my day, which is split between the studio and my in-house workroom. I enjoy curating the pieces in my studio to create a fresh and interesting space for people to visit but spend the rest of my time on the laptop downloading and editing my photos and designing wall art or gifts from my images. Much effort is put into being visible online at the moment, so I do spend a lot of time on zoom networking meetings, training webinars, and posting on my social media pages. It’s also where I plan any exhibitions as I exhibit my work in a Gallery in Littlehampton and locally in a Delicatessen who commissioned me to create some photographs for their shop display.
Which artist of the past would you most like to meet and why?
Cathy: Joseph Mallord William Turner. Before I even became an art student, I saw his ‘Fighting Temeraire’ and was amazed by his ability to tell a story using light, color, and texture; all the elements that embody my work. Around 40% of my art books are on Turner and I am fortunate enough to live close to Petworth House and to have actually stood in his studio where he painted during his time there.
In reflecting back to the start of your artistic endeavor, what is the most useful advice you ever received?
Cathy: Apart from being told I need qualifications to fall back on, I would say that the most compelling advice I’ve ever been given is “just be yourself” and I follow that advice through to my work as it reflects who I am, without copying or entering into competition with anyone else.
What was the recent piece you’ve enjoyed working on the most and why?
Cathy: It would have to be the large canvas hanging above the fireplace that encapsulates our time here in Ferring.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process and how do you overcome it?
Cathy: The most challenging part of what I do is deciding which images to use and how best to portray them. Whether the photograph will be featured in a series of items, such as a tea towel, coaster, and print, or will it simply be printed onto aluminum or acrylic as a piece of wall art. I also like to découpage some of my photographs onto woodblocks or canvas, thereby creating more texture and interest to the image. These are then photographed and printed as wall art.
Could you share some stories behind your work?
Cathy: ‘The old artist’s studio’ was discovered purely by chance in the garden of a French café in Giverny, when I was visiting Monet’s house and gardens in 2018. It has been kept completely intact showing you life as it had been for the unknown artist.
‘Blue sunset’ is a recent piece using my iPhone and trying to capture the sunset from a different angle. Every day before sunset there is a time when you get a ‘blue’ tint and I happened to be out on our local beach at that time.
‘Laundry’ was taken in Cairo when my husband and I were there in 2009. The colors and fabrics drew my attention away from the multitude of ruins we visited daily and offered an insight into the lives of the people.
‘Spiral’ is one of my unusual photographs, but it shows my quirky nature and how I like to look at life sometimes. It’s a bird’s eye view of the staircase in the Courtauld Gallery, London.
What is the best way for people to reach you that are interested in your art?
Cathy: I launched my new website in January https://www.blueviewartstudio.co.uk
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Cathy: In terms of my photography, I would like to use my images more in craft form, rather than the usual prints, postcards, and wall art. This would entail turning images into stained glass pictures, or sewing a picture to create a cushion. It will allow me to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The studio will hopefully be reopening on Sunday 18th April and I’m looking forward to it being full of life once again.