creative conversations 8

5 Dec

Welcome to episode seven of creative conversations. This week Sarah Gilpin, a sculptor based on The Isle of Portland, joins me, at her Sculpture Hut – a beach hut studio at Portland Bill.

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Right click (or Ctrl click on a Mac) on this link (Creative Conversations #08) to download (Save Link As). Or subscribe to our podcast, or subscribe via iTunes.

We start off by hearing Sarah’s route to being an artist and moving to Portland. She started by training as before going onto work at garden centres in Sussex. Sarah got into meditation and Buddhism and was introduced to sculpture. This led her to take the plunge and study sculpture training at Steiner school, rather then a conventional, competitive, art college, as this offered her a fuller, rounded practice, offering sculptural training in a beautify setting within a sense of community.

After finishing her studies she proceeded to travel around for a number of years, searching for a place to live and work. She wanted to live in a place that had a material she could use in her sculpture, making connection with the land. Her approach is to pay attention to the stone – the wood – the reeds; to explore their qualities, to develop a connection to the land, to discover how people have engaged with it over the years. Hoping to reveal, re- present, and above all to share these stories of the earth and our relationship to it.

We then go onto talk about working with schools and the richness of taking people out into the landscape to work. That rather then taking photographs of the landscape, of the place, into a classroom and talking about these places. If you can take people into this landscape then their experiences are a million times richer. All their senses come into play as you talk about the place you are in.

We then move onto what advice we could give young artists setting out now. We agree that we’d probably say that people should look at training to get a skill they can easily sell and dig themselves out of trouble when needed. Something they can call on when needed, to help pay the bills. But don’t give up on the creative stuff, treasure it.

We talk about the perception of how she sees herself, after I ask the difficult question: is she a ‘professional’ artist, or an amateur?

Doing sculpture in the landscape is core to Sarah’s practice. Sarah talks about the joy of bringing people here to her Sculpture Hut and hew work with Youth Inclusion Support Project in Weymouth, who work with young people who have difficult backgrounds. We then diverge into talking about my recent project of taking 271 young people out into the Dartmoor landscape. To survey, to interpret, and creatively represent.

We then hear about her involvement with ArtWey and the benefits to her practice of working within a collective of artists. Of balancing her time between her practice and giving time to groups. She has learnt a lot about organizations, of running groups. She has met a lot of artists in the area and found out about their practice and what they are up to. A continual problem is the lack of a decent space to show a large diverse collection of work.

I ask what benefits she’d have liked to see happen after 2012. She’d have liked for it to help her in her practice in someway. We talk about ways local artists can “up their game”. And Sarah has a very good idea in that there should have been more mentoring opportunities for local artists to tag along with the commissioned artists. They could follow the whole process of the commission, attending meetings, seeing all that is involved. Enabling local artists to gain this experience and so they can add this onto their CV and open up better opportunities for them in future.

We agree on the view that art should be essential to other projects and not isolated. That everything is important; bringing in creativity is integral, or should be integral to everything that goes on.

To find out more about Sarah Gilpin and her Sculpture Hut;


6 Responses to “creative conversations 8”

  1. ivonoates December 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Dear Joe and Sarah,
    This is developing into a wonderful format for engaging – I felt part of the conversation. It is very good to hear other artists’ experience and their background reflexivity around their practice.
    I also like the time given to this conversation- its as if there is a bit more space to dwell within the context. The surrounding sounds, the quality of the voices, the atmosphere makes it a wonderful soundscape.
    Thank you
    ivon oates

  2. 51joe December 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    thanks for the feedback ivon,
    useful in helping me evaluate these conversations. will help me see where i go with it in 2012.

    all the best


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