Clare Petherick, Bucks Mills Cabin
Perched above the sea in the ancient fishing hamlet of Bucks Mills, the Cabin was the studio and summer residence of painters Judith Ackland and Mary Stella Edwards. More recently the Cabin has been used as a space for artist residencies, to keep this artistic heritage alive. Artist Clare Petherick grew up in North Devon, and has since created site specific installations at the Cabin inspired by the poetry of Mary Stella Edwards. Place, landscape and time feature heavily in Clare's work, as can be seen in her pieces from Bucks Mills.
What is your artistic inspiration?
I’ve always been fascinated by places and objects from the past that are on the verge of disappearing. I feel that if I don’t document them they will simply vanish altogether, their legacy forgotten. I use very simple materials to work with; quite often it is literally paper and graphite or pen. I work with a variety of papers depending on the subject. Right now I’m experimenting with very fine Japanese papers and tissues, which lend a transparency and lightness and suit the atmosphere of the cabin and its lingering sense of being abandoned.
" Layers of history, fragments from time, and nature’s unruly contribution all fascinate me."
What did you do during your residency at Bucks Mills Cabin?
I came across the book “A Truce with Time” written by Mary Stella Edwards and was quite bowled over by the intensity of her poetry, both in the descriptions of her surroundings and the references to her personal life with Judith. I decided that I wanted to produce work inspired by these poems so I created my ‘altered books’. I made six books using found images, each one a reference to one of her poems. I wanted the books to look as if they were part of the Cabin, as if they had just been left lying around by Mary and Judith.
For my residency this spring I have made drawings using fine pens and graphite, and for Open Day at the Cabin in April I will be showing my altered books as well as the drawings.
How has Bucks Mills Cabin inspired your work? What makes this place special?
I grew up in North Devon and as a child my family spent a lot of time at Bucks Mills on the beach. We must have walked past the Cabin countless times; I had no idea of the time capsule inside.
Spending time in the Cabin was amazing, I loved all the paper bags full of candles and materials bought locally, from shops that don’t even exist anymore, well except Blanchards that is.
I remember seeing the dioramas that the women made when I was a child, especially the one of Mary painting in the landscape, which is now on display at the Burton art gallery. I researched the technique they invented called Jackanda where they used compressed cotton to create models. I work with lens tissue, which has a similarly soft appearance, and will be showing my encased drawings and objects at the cabin as homage to Judith and Mary’s work.
Are there any other National Trust places that have inspired you?
Last summer I discovered the Red House at Bexleyheath in Kent, a stunning arts and crafts house which had been the home of William Morris. Another place that I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time is A La Ronde near Exmouth, a sixteen sided house with a shell encrusted gallery, hopefully this year will be the year when I finally get to pay a visit!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to develop their artistic ability?
Start drawing. Find something that fascinates you and then buy a sketchbook and some good pencils. You only need very simple materials to get started. Also visit galleries and museums, and look around at what other artists are doing and you will gradually start to develop your own practice.
" I’ve always been fascinated by places and objects from the past that are on the verge of disappearing. I feel that if I don’t document them they will simply vanish altogether, their legacy forgotten. "
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