It has been two years since the ‘AWAY’ exhibition by Julie Arkell was on show at Ruthin Craft Centre, and as with any passing of time things change, alter, are stored away, whilst other ideas emerge.
There is a dream I had a few years ago that has remained with me and I see as a guiding light. A young woman with her arms full of nature books enters a green door marked ‘HOTEL’ on a Scottish Island. I was intrigued by her, and the room beyond the green door looked inviting. I wanted to follow her, be part of that world. I awoke with a wonderful feeling and it has remained a glimpse to an unknown place – a thread to follow.
So my own collection of nature books has grown. Pond Life, Flowers Shown to Children, British Birds and their Nests, A School Flora and Woodland Trees. I especially like the layout of birds eggs on the old mottled pages of the bird books, their colours, numbering and names. I have done drawings of them in coloured pencils, pinning them on the wall alongside photographs of mountains, lakes, hills, snowy landscapes and solitary trees- a reminder of open spaces, remoteness.
This has led me to think about the spaces surrounding the creatures and objects I make. It has become more important to me to give them room, shadows, paths and sometimes their own knitted ponds to stand in.
All this seems like a slow emerging world that often surprises me, and continues to help me live and breathe.
Julie Arkell is one of Britain’s best recognised contemporary folk artists working in papier-mâché and mixed media and using domestic craft techniques, in her own distinctly sophisticated way. She makes everything by hand in her London studio, manipulating and painting her papier-mâché figures, stuffing bodies and embroidering clothes. She trims her creations in knitted adornments, curious accessories, ribbons and found objects. The result is her magically appealing little creatures.
Her work is available to buy from The Harley Shop.