Dec 3rd 2021
A blog by artists Emily Hogarth and Hannah Louise Lamb, who participated in our Marchmont Autumn Residency, delivered in partnership with Marchmont House and Marchmont Creative Spaces.
Emily: Driving through the countryside on a beautiful autumn day I arrived at Marchmont house and instantly felt a million miles away from my everyday life and work pressures quickly melted. Marchmont house is so beautiful and the landscape around it was just breath-taking. I was warmly shown to our accommodation and was instantly made to feel at home. After a quick tour, I was led to the tower studio to see where we were going to work for the week. It felt like something from a fairy tale, a little room at the top of a winding staircase in Rapunzel’s tower. Once Hannah arrived, we set about setting up our studios so that we were ready and raring to go the next day.
Hannah: I finally arrived at Marchmont after loading my car with every imaginable tool; I didn’t know what to bring and what to leave behind at home, so I just brought everything I could fit in, including the dog! It was a glorious drive into the Borders, and although only an hour from home it felt like a completely different world. We settled into our beautiful little cottage and although our amazing studio was only a few steps away I had to drive round with all my heavy tools to unpack! I got a temporary jewellery bench area set up and everything in place to start working the following day.
Emily: The next morning, with a hot cup of tea in hand, I sat at my desk at the top of the tower and looked out the window across fields and woodland and admired the autumn colours and golden, misty sun streaming in. You couldn’t help but be inspired. We ventured for a walk around the grounds in the morning, collecting leaves, seed heads and shapes that inspired us and brought them back into the studio. The fresh air and landscape were infectious. I was especially drawn to the huge horse chestnut trees with their bounty of conkers. They reminded me of childhood and fairy tale stories and I knew I wanted to try and capture some of their magic.
Once back in the studio I eventually managed to get the fire going and settled into my work – painting sheets of paper inspired by the colours I saw around me. Once dry I used these papers to cut shapes and patterns.
Hannah: A gorgeous misty and damp walk around the estate collecting resources and inspiration was the starting point for our creative journey at Marchmont. There was so much to see, and as Autumn had well and truly arrived, we came back with armfuls of fallen leaves, seed heads and windblown twigs. I also took lots of photos of things that caught my eye, trees, buildings, markings on brickwork, the incredible living sculptures that are part of the estate, the furniture and art collection from the main house, and the resident runner ducks. I started drawing the shapes, repeating, resizing and looking for patterns that I would eventually translate into metal.
Emily: Another beautiful autumn morning with the sun beaming in we got to work. It was so lovely to have time to just see where ideas took us and play with colour and shape without the pressure to create a finished artwork. I kept finding beautiful moths in the studio and a butterfly that enjoyed fluttering about keeping me company – and they then crept into my sketches. After some sketch work, I decided to try and created a basic repeating pattern. Inspired by the collection of arts and crafts items we saw in Marchmont house itself and that surrounded us in our accommodation in Rose Cottage East on the grounds (just a stone’s throw from our tower studio). So, I started creating a basic repeating pattern design from my sketches and started cutting. I had a small piece of lino with me so used that to create a print block that I could use to created my repeat pattern. This took most of the day. The following day I was ready to print and see if my pattern could work. I really enjoyed the printing process and having the time to really run with an idea.
Hannah: From my sketches and photographs, some little compositions started appearing. I can’t help myself but work on a tiny scale, so narratives followed and the compositions expanded into a collection. I got down to my happy place at the bench with a saw in hand and started drilling and cutting, converting these little pictures into brass plates, that I would later use to texture paper. I work in metal and Emily works in paper, so I challenged myself to combine paper and metal in my experiments.
Emily: After we had spent some time working on our own work Hannah and I came together to see how our processes could work as a collaboration. I created smaller more precise patterns that could be cut small, we tried pressing our designs into papers to see what impressions we could get and then pressing into copper. For me it was great to see my deigns on a new medium.
On our final day I created a finished pattern for Hannah, which she then cut out of brass and rolled onto silver which she then magically created into a brooch.
The week was so inspiring and the perfect opportunity to try things that I don’t normally have the time to try; to test things out and not worry if they failed, or didn’t look right and couldn’t instantly be sold in a commercial setting. It was really good to be able to develop my work away from the pressure of creating a finished product. Of course, I came away with many ideas, that I am now placing back into my daily studio practice and will develop into more finished pieces, but our week at Marchmont house gave me that invaluable time to create an be inspired directly by my surroundings and enjoy the whole process.
Hannah: After cutting my compositions and Emily’s patterns, rolling them onto different papers, and doing the opposite cutting paper and rolling onto metal, we created some embossed samples as a collaboration, which was such a lovely process. We had no deadline or definite outcome requirement, which meant we were so free to experiment, something I don’t have time for very often in running my jewellery business. The whole residency was so inspirational and I came away full of ideas and to feed back into my art practice.
Thanks so much from both of us to Marchmont Creative Spaces and Visual Arts Scotland for this amazing opportunity.