Friday, 5 August 2011

Artison - Creative workshop tour

Hi, hi, hi.

You know I love the internet don't you? And you know I love the connections I've made? And the people [ie: you!] who I get to talk to? 

And you know I've taken lots of online classes and that I welcome the access we have to inspiring artists and teachers? You know all that ... right?

Well ... as well as all of that ... it never hurts me to once in a while get out into the 3-dimensional world and create alongside others! Which is exactly what I did last weekend at a workshop run by ArtisOn in Masham, North Yorkshire:
I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to visit ArtisOn and take a workshop of my choice, so that I could come back here and tell you all about it. Not an offer I was ever likely to refuse.So this post is a look at my day at the Creating Collage: Inspired by Vintage workshop last Sunday run by tutors Josie Beszant and Rosie Scott Massie.

And when I say my day there, that's exactly what it was beginning at 9:30am with tea, biscuits and a quick chat with the tutors and other students. Here's the ArtisOn building:
You know when you've reached a creative place when there's paintings on the outside walls and there's a man under an awning heating-up a raku fire outside the front door!

After the biscuits were eaten, we moved into Studio 1 [which is on the right of the photo above and which has a door which looks like:
If you've ever harboured desires of being a 'proper' artist, then like me, you'd probably enjoy working in a room like this:
How's that for a non-sterile creative environment?

I shared a table with 3 other 'students' and, as a scrapbooker/ life-documenter [have I just made that up?!] I took a photo of my little workspace, complete with mug of tea left over from the 11:00am round of tea + biscuits [do you see a theme already? And we haven't even reached lunch-time yet ...].
The lady sat next to me told me she'd not done anything like collage before and I heard a few other people say a similar thing which was perfectly fine as the course was for 'Beginners and above'. Everyone seemed to make the most of it, even the two children present. Especially the two children present. In fact they were completely on board with the instruction and structure of class immediately. 

The workshop itself was very well structured and we were given 3 projects to work on throughout the day. Our materials were paper ephemera and small 3D items - things I work with all the time but ... I  know that you know that other people's stash is always more interesting than your own!

Can you imagin ehow I felt being allowed - encouraged! - to browse through this lot to find items to use? Can you? ... I think you can:
I know that many of you will understand entirely how a rummage through all those used/ recycled / vintage/ retro supplies made me giddy but equally I know that others will consider it 'old tat'.  And that's fair enough [Kind of! Not sure why you're reading my blog though, it's nothing if not full of old tat! Unless you love me so much you can see beyond that ...] Anyways ...

The thing about attending a workshop such as this is that you can be pretty sure that everyone else there will like similar things to you. That's the joy of making the effort to go out amongst other artists / crafters in your niche.
 They too will understand someone's 'old tat' is someone else's cat-nip! That just because something might smell musty ... it doesn't mean you won't be featuring it in a scrapbooking page. That the items marked down in charity bookshops as the staff thinks they're old and obscure are the very ones which make your heart beat a little quicker.

At the workshop one of the participants had brought along a crate of such supplies he'd collected:
It contained everything both I - and clearly mmost of the rest of the group were fascinated by. From postcards to Victorian scrapbooks, from wartime items to old photographs. Then there was the audible intake of breath from the entire group when he produced a box filled with rusty old keys, complete with labels. Oh my!

To paraphrase the Cheers theme tune; sometimes you wanna go where people know the things you like are OK and perfectly normal thankyouverymuch.  It's why I like meeting up with crafty friends at least once a month and why it's good to take a workshop like this once in a while too.

OK, enough talk for now ... how about some lunch:
 Sorry it's not a photo of a full, attractively styled plate ... but I was hungry and it was delicious. A full homecooked vegetarian amazingly tasty buffet. [I'm still dreaming of the Coronation Chicken - which couldn't have been chicken but was amazing anyway and the olive tapenade ... mmmm].

Oh and did I mention there was a choice of 3 homemade desserts too? No? There was a choice of 3 homemade desserts too - because everyone knows crafting days + cake are essential companions!

OK, enough food .... back to work [don't worry, there'll be another cake-break at 14:30 complete with 3 more homemade treats to choose from!]:
Project 1 had been to warm us up while working around the prompt of 'blue', while Project 2 focussed on creating a 'museum of ...' based on either the initial topic of 'Black + White', 'Childhood' or 'Time'.

I haven't really finished any of my pieces [to my satisfaction at least], so I haven't any full photos of them. However, they are in this shot of work from the whole group [if you spot a pair of jeans and a zebra ... you're in the right place!]

I think my favourite part of the day [which I'm planning a separate post around] was when we were instructed to select 3 items which spoke to us from the table-of-paper-wonderment and then take them outside, to the beautiful surroundings, to sit with them a while and be inspired.

This is the view opposite the ArtisOn courtyard:
Needless to say ... I was inspired.

And I'll show you what I made following this little communing with nature and a herd of curious cattle  as soon as it's finished [ermmm .... whenever that maybe!]. I'm even thinking of framing it and hanging it in the house. And that's always a good sign .. when I actually feel satisfied enough with my work to do that!

One of the things I was most impressed with was the professionalism of the tutors. This wasn't a case of being thrown in a room with some paper and glue and being left to your own devices, this was a fully 'taught' workshop. We were given guidance, instruction, a good deal of theory and even a slideshow on the history of collage too which really gave the feeling that you were learning somethign and developing skills ... not just playing about. But we did that too!

It's a testament to the skill of the tutor that people with all levels of creative experience produced some wonderful work:
 We put our pieces on display for everyone to see and we were encouraged [but not forced] to say a few words about our process, materials or techniques used or even the meaning behind it:
And at the end, the tutors took it in turn to pick out pieces to discuss and really re-cap and cement the skills we'd been using through the day:
I left my first visit to ArtisOn with 3 peices of work, some new-to-me paper treasures [little extras they were selling from their supplies for pennies] and a full stomach!

I also left hoping I'd get to return one day - perhaps next time it'll be with a group of friends - as they welcome group bookings and even hen parties! [No, I'm not, before you ask.]So my friends and I might have to get our heads together to see what we'd like to do.

We might have to fight off these eager souls to get in though:

  • If you'd like to read more about ArtisOn and the wide variety of workshops they offer you can visit their website here
I specifically chose to attend their collage workshop because .. well .. I'm a bit obsessed with collage at the best of times, but especially right now. I think August 2011 shall forever now be know as Collage Month:
  • I visited 'Transmitter / Receiver: The Persistance of Collage' exhibition at the MIMA gallery in Middlesbrough last Saturday;
  • took the ArtisOn workshop on Sunday;
  • and on Monday began photographing the collages I've been making over the last few weeks;
  • I've spent the remainder of the week uploading them to my etsy shop 'Julie Kirk + The Carousel Zebra', which I'm really happy with right now and would love you to take a look at if you get chance. Thank you. You're great.

Thanks for dropping by today and making it through this huge post!

I hope it's inspired you to seek out [or at least begin thinking about seeking out] a 'real life' creative experience. Once you're there and in the swing of things, drinking tea, doing something you're interested in ... then it's a lot less scary than you might initially think.

And if you're used to people reacting in a blank, bemused manner to you when you mention your hobbies and interests ... then time spent with like-minded people might just be what you need to remind you that while some people don't 'get' it ... it doesn't mean that nobody does!

We're back to Cheers again now aren't we? All together now ....

You wanna go where people know, people are all the same ... you wanna go where everybody knows your name ...

Julie :-)


  1. It sounds like a great course - and if the cakes were as nice as the lunch looked you were onto a winner LOL.

  2. Sounds great... we could all sit in the naughty corner!

  3. Why am I so far away? It sounds fantastic!

  4. Oooh, I am so jealous!!! I about died when I saw that table!!! Look at the stamps.... and the airmail envelopes, and the art!!!! I would totally sign up if I wasn't some 9000 kilometers away!!!!!!!!!!

  5. As well as the stamps I spied some airmail envelopes too, very Going Postal :)

    It looks like a great day out and don't they look after you well.

  6. Wow, looks fabulous! I'm so jealous! Love the seahorse collage in your etsy shop! X

  7. Glad you enjoyed it! Josie told me that you had been in touch. You forgot to say that they have a DIY craft night on the second Tuesday of each month, where you can take your stuff and just create in the company of other crafters - great if you sometimes need a firm date to put all the chores aside and indulge your creative needs . Oh and I am running two journaling classes in Spetember and October - apologies for the shameless plug....

  8. Looks awesome!!! and WHAT a studio! Ooh, do you think hubby would notice if I quietly turned the downstairs into a full-on art studio? Who needs a dining room anyway..

  9. Woah!!!! I'm almost as giddy with excitement reading your post as you were being at Artison! I have been to Masham and LOVED it - sadly did not know about Artison at the time. The studio reminded me of the Bloomsbury Set. I visited Charleston House yesterday in Sussex and the fireplace and painting above look very similar to the artwork in the house.
    It sounds an amazing day. Lucky, lucky you. Loved reading about it and looking forward to more.

  10. Forgot to say - it's a LONG way for me to travel, but if you book as a group and have a spare place please think of me :)

  11. This looks fab so when are we going?

  12. thanks for the fab blog Julie, it was a pleasure having you on the workshop. sandie - our decoration is indeed inspired by charleston - well spotted!! hope to meet some of you here one day, josie (artison)


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