Conversation with Kay Lancashire

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CONVERSATION WITH THE MAKER(CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?
KAY LANCASHIRE(KL) When at school, I wanted to be an art teacher and- well- unfortunately my results meant that I ended up in an office job, but I always had that in the back of my mind it was always there, I meant to do art in some form or other. I kept chipping away at it by doing as many classes and courses as I could manage to find my particular niche.

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?
KL At school – I remember hanging out for art sessions. I can remember this from maybe 3rd grade, I can picture the art rooms much more clearly than any of my other class rooms so I think that says something. I can think of a few great sessions where we all produced things that I loved, but probably the most life changing was when I did some screen printing and also batik fabric dyeing in around form 5 (year 11). Both of those classes had me trying out these things at home. Many an outing had me hiding my blue, green hands (or whatever the current colour project was).
CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
KL Yes, and pretty much it was that room/space which was the deciding factor on us buying the house

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
KL We are lucky in that both of us work from home. I’m not an early bird, so I’m usually up last (after 8 if I haven’t got an appointment) and we have breakfast together in the sunroom. I pack the orders for my online shop, do any other jobs which must be done then start playing as soon as I can. I’m thankful that my husband comes and gives me a cuppa during the morning, and I usually emerge to make us some lunch. After a trip into town to post any mail and pick up any supplies I head back to the studio and work until dinner time. I listen to talking books whilst working so if I’m zoned out sometimes we have a very late dinner hahaha.
Depending what I’m working on, I continue on after dinner with something portable in front of the fire and the TV if I feel inclined

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?
KL Most definitely. I very much feel it’s like the thrill of the chase. The thinking/dreaming, then the process of teasing out those thoughts and dreams into something that you can put down on paper or, if too impatient, start straight into the process to make a reality. I am blessed or cursed whichever it happens to be at the time, where I have an idea and if I go to bed on it, no sleep necessarily occurs which is of course frustrating, but a well formulated or totally unbelievable plan emerges in that semi wakefulness, which is right outside the square and many times solves the ‘problem’ I’ve set myself. I find myself at my cheeriest and most fulfilled when I’m on a roll, dreaming and then working towards making those dreams a reality.

CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

KL I think that self doubt or an element of uncertainty will have me continually check that there isn’t a better way…. I’m not sure it’s enticing, however I’m sure it’s absolutely inevitable that I won’t leave something alone until it ‘feels right’

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?
KL Wire cutters, pliers, pencil and paper, knitting needles…. I’ve got a whole big room of ‘absolutely necessary’ indispensable tools and equipment, but if I don’t have wire-cutters and pliers, I’d probably go potty.
CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
KL Mostly it’s spontaneous, but occasionally I have a little deviation where I think/dream something, I put that onto paper, I then source materials create the item and viola it’s done. Mostly it’s more chaotic than that. I have the dream/idea, I drop what I’m doing and clear a space and start to gather the bits and start to play. Sometimes I’m trying to put things away and notice how a few elements look together on the bench and feel I must stop and investigate and it’s through that investigation that the beginning or indeed a whole piece is created. I think spontaneity would be the best word to describe my method.

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
KL I’m not actually sure. I think gut instinct is the main thing. Occasionally it’s simply that I cannot thing what else needs to be done, so I leave it.
CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….
KL Nature, followed closely by history. I love organic shapes, natural materials and Nature’s shapes and patterns. I also adore being influenced by historic and ancient jewellery and artefacts and am influenced by those.

CWTM Favourite quote?
KL The hurrier I go the behinder I get…. (One of my Grandma’s ) It reminds me to settle down and just keep the correct pace. Mistakes are made when trying to rush.

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
KL At night. I wish it were another way, somehow I get my best ideas when I should be inspecting the inside of my eyelids. I’ve always been the same so I can’t expect at this stage to be any different. However I do try to curb my artistic pursuits on new projects after 9pm when I’m tired or I’ll not get any sleep.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
KL The fact that sometimes I just don’t know where things came from… I love just being lost in the process and making and doing and suddenly finding that I have a pleasing object in front of me almost by a miracle. That’s when it’s easy and almost like someone else did it.

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?
KL To believe in my own processes/methods, believing in myself. To listen to my own heart as to the direction I’m going and to love what I’m doing, and then share the love. (my grandmother’s advice and attitude to life)
CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?
KL Not to bother doing something unless I was going to be paid well for it
CWTM Best part of your day?
KL Beginning – when I can see ahead what’s possible.

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?
KL Rolf Harris – I’ve always thought he has amazing talent with paint and his general enthusiasm for art in general infectious and I just like his sense of humour. He painted a portrait of my uncle a number of years ago which shows an aspect of the man many did not see, but in my opinion captured him perfectly.
Steven Fry – I enjoy his dry humour and wit and feel that he would be a good story teller.
Barbra Streisand – I’ve always loved her voice, I think she is an intelligent woman who has an amazing mind.
Bryn Terfel – I adore his voice. I’m not sure what sort of company he’d be but he melts me every time I hear him sing so I’d totally love to meet him.
Dawn French – I think her sense of humour is great, I love to listen to her laugh and I love to laugh too.
Celia Rosser – her work is exquisite and I love the dedication and skill which has had her life’s work be so consistently amazing.

CWTM What inspires your creativity?
KL Beauty, whether it be visual or musical. Joy, is the state which produces my best work
It’s not something I can describe, as so many instances of beauty are different.
CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
KL I’m enjoying playing with Kumihimo personally using all sorts of threads and also wire. However, I love watching what others are producing with dyeing and effects created with natural processes.

CWTM You’d be lost without…
KL I really can’t get by without my darling husband Bill Statham who is a driving force in having me use my skills and talents. Bill also is the patient person who is talented in his own right and works on many of the beautiful Viking weave chains to help me bring to fruition some of my designs, or helps work out ways of creating more space in my work space, or with the domestics when I’m on a roll plus he built my great work bench.
CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
KL I’m not sure, I think with more time available I might fritter it away. Sometimes I think I’m better off under pressure with less time available. The best work I have produced has been done in the most hectic and busy time of my life.
CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
KL A deliciously perfumed bath – once again this was the first thing I thought of. There are lots of things but this one does the most good

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
KL I think so, more because I can now access materials via the internet that I didn’t even know existed before. I can learn online, I can interact with a whole community of likeminded artists who encourage and support me in my endeavours. I am influenced by the various styles of work that I see, all from the comfort of my studio and relative isolation of a small country town
CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
KL The buzz when you have an image in your brain and the process of having it come to fruition

CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
KL I think the perception of some in the ‘art world’ need to change, the process of that change? I’m thinking needs to be with the catalyst of the quality of the work and intent of the maker. I don’t know how else to describe it.

CWTM What is next for you?
KL I have a small exhibition of my work coming up which I’m working hard toward and enjoying immensely. We are in the slow and ongoing process of renovating and I want to take more steps to create artwork for our home. I’m also teaching more lately which I’m enjoying. I’m not sure what else is next,… that’s the exciting bit.

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