Friday, 23 March 2012

The Power of Social Media

I've recently been included in a press release and we are to have a group interview and photo taken for the Derby Evening Telegraph next week.  It's very exciting and I have been boingy and buzzing since yesterday afternoon, I returned from taking Maybe for a walk to see my inbox flooded with emails arranging it all.   So today my mission is to go and get my haircut!

Four Belper Artists Brought Together by Social Media Have A Chance Of Selection to Exhibit in London Gallery

Back in summer 2011 Belper artist Ruth Gray read her twitter feed and the words ‘We are looking for Desperate Artwives!’ Jumped out at her. The call on the website read:

‘We are a group of women and artists who have been putting our "artistic needs" on hold to attend to our family and work duties, but who have also never forgotten who we really are at heart. We are now ready to reclaim our artist status and are looking for others who feel they belong to this category to join our group. Desperate Artwives aims to be a starting point and a common platform to gather artists and artwork that will make our project unique. We are looking for work that is entirely created at home, in between chores, family and paying bills. All artwork will be showcased on our website, while a smaller selection will join the Desperate Artwives group in our upcoming exhibition in London. Artworks in all media are welcomed, Inc. visual, film, sculpture, performance, textile art, poetry and writers. Submissions from international artists are also very welcomed!’

Ruth immediately submitted four pieces of work that she had been painting in the evening when her children were in bed and was accepted with her work show cased on the Desperate Artwives website. Since then the project has grown from strength to strength with over forty women artists from all over the world contributing. Amy Digham the project founder has announced that Desperate Artwives is now officially supported by the Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths University of London and the Desperate Artwives Exhibition will take place from the 19/05 to the 29/05 (PV friday 18th) at the Vibe Gallery, London. SE16 4DG. Student Jerwood Prize winner 2011 Nicki Rolls, will be taking part as special guest.

What Ruth didn’t bargain for was the project bringing together Jenny Oldknow, Christine Gray and Mandy –Jayne Ahlfors all Belper artists who all share similar stories of raising families and working yet still finding time to create artwork in between, this has been an added bonus and now the artists have had opportunities through social networks such as twitter and facebook to meet up and collaborate on other projects such as the Belper Art Trail and #twitterartexhibit (taking place in Moss Norway.) All have seen their profile raised since Desperate Artwives began and are now very positive that the time spent painting in between chores is paying off!


The Belper Artists

Ruth Gray

Ruth Gray is a fine artist who is both a British and Australian citizen specialising in semi abstract artworks that explore the emotion of natural environments through the use of colour and form.

Working predominantly in acrylics, using collage to add texture. With a long background in representational art Ruth also has a love of traditional watercolours and pencil work. Because fine art was not considered to be a stable career choice, she studied Textiles Technology at University and became a clothes designer for twelve years. But continuing her art education at night school and sketching at home. After immigrating to Australia in 2003 with her husband, she found herself living hours away from any major town or city and unable to continue her fashion career, so she reinvented herself as a fine artist. Successfully selling artwork in regional and national exhibitions, solo, joint and group shows. Media attention from newspapers, local radio and regional TV followed. Eventually writing ‘how to’ articles for national arts magazines. All the while discovering new skills in fine art at the local college.

Returning to the UK in 2009 and settling in Belper on the edge of The Peak District Ruth completed a degree in International Business and has continued with her art practice. Currently represented by local galleries in Derbyshire.

Bondi Rip by Ruth Gray
Mandy –Jayne Ahlfors

Before embarking on opening a working artist studio and gallery Mandy began exhibiting her art in the year 2007 it was a big step and was encouraged by her family to take the leap into the otherside of the art world. So her first exhibition was at a lovely little gallerynestled in Lea nr Holloway, followed by an exhibition at View from The Top gallery in Nottingham. The following year Mandy was made redundant from her job as drawing office administrator this meant looking for work,after six months of looking Mandy was approached by a friend who suggested sharing studio space. This was the beginning of something new and challenging. Mandy moved her studio and gallery to her home town and opened in July 2011 in Heage Derbyshire.

Mandy Jane Ahlfors in her Studio

Jenny Oldknow
‘I paint expressive and vibrant watercolour’s of ALL kinds of lovely animals - pets, wildlife, insects, horses, farm animals, you name it! I also paint pure abstract work.I have exhibited my work widely and my paintings have been sold throughout the UK and abroad.
Commissions are very welcome - pet portraits are a specialty! But I am happy to paint ANY animal, or an abstract piece, for your special commission!
I am an artist member of the 'Association of Animal Artists'.

Red Flight by Jenny Oldknow

Christine Gray

Christine is a mixed media artist who explores the use of colour and texture. Using a combination of collage, handmade silk papers, dyes and paint she creates abstract studies often combined with an illustrative technique.

Her work often reflects the landscape around her, including areas of Belper, Matlock, The Peak District and from visits to her parents on Anglesey. Christine also uses creative writing in her work. She is currently exploring Art and Running, painting abstract landscapes of the world in motion.

She moved to Derbyshire in 1991 and has made Belper her permanent home.

‘I studied Fine Art at the University of Derby and graduated in 2009 alongside bringing up a young family, I then continued onto a Postgraduate Certificate in Community & Participatory Arts at Staffordshire University . In 2010, I was selected for the ‘Start Up & Go’ business programme with University of Derby and since then have been working as an artist, making and selling work through various outlets and attending local festivals.
I am also working in collaboration with Andrew Martyn Sugars in our not for profit arts organisation called Corridor Arts, we put on art events in Amber Valley such as The Belper Art Trail with the Belper Food Festival Committee, that promotes collaboration between artists and works to keep our artistic community thriving.’

Belper by Christine Gray

Desperate Artwives Project Founder

Amy Dignam.

Amy graduated from Central St Martin in 2005. Dictated by the need to support herself financially and by the fact that job prospects for conceptual artists are not exactly flourishing, Amy ended up having to take up a job that is not even remotely near her artistic ambitions. A few years on and Amy is now married, has two gorgeous girls and is still in the same job. She is a housewife, mother and part-time employee, but at heart she is also an artist who is looking for an opportunity to keep her passion going.

Meditating on her situation, Amy realised that there are plenty of women in exactly the same situation – women that continue to produce incredible work behind closed doors while they feed their babies, support their husbands and chase a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy their creative needs. These women need a voice and an outlet.

What if we created a movement to celebrate these talented women? What if we could find a way to collect the work of these women and then look for an opportunity to exhibit their work? In answering these questions, Amy created ‘Desperate Artwives‘, a movement, a website and a collection of work that will eventually be sifted and shortlisted for a London exhibition.











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