CAROLINE LEWIS & WENDY HERMELIN – The Sugar Cube Interview
First things first, how did you get started as an artist?
CAROLINE – I was extremely lucky to grow up in a creative and artistic family who were always encouraging and supportive. I followed art through school and went to the West of England School of Art and Design. I started working with glass in 2001.
WENDY – My father was a designer and inventor and my mother an artist who went to the Royal School of Needlework. So art and textiles were a natural part of my upbringing.
Any advice you could pass on to aspiring arts of any age?
CAROLINE – Be open to learning and experiment lots, there’s no such thing as failure just an opportunity to learn. Be yourself and follow your ideas and intuition. Be excited by what you are creating, it is your passion that shines through and to which people respond.
WENDY – Be passionate for whatever you want to make your art about. Study and experiment with many different techniques until you find what it is that expresses your passion best and look at as many different artists as you can.
How would you sum up your style of work in 120 characters?
CAROLINE – Colour, light, bold, bright, stylised, graphic, intuitive, organic, shamanic, flowing, natural, hand cut & crafted, glass, copper, feathers.
WENDY – Figurative, colourful, textural, graphic, tactile, detailed, impressionistic, flowing, landscapes, stitched, embellished fabrics.
The Sugar Cube Gallery is pretty small but is it the smallest gallery you’ve ever exhibited your work in?
CAROLINE – Last year we were involved in Dorset Art Weeks and our entire exhibition was in my mum’s (Wendy’s) shed! It worked very well.
WENDY – No. Last summer Caroline and I exhibited in my garden shed which is 7 foot x 9 foot painted white.
As an artist is there a time of year you like best?
CAROLINE – When the seasons change, it doesn’t matter which ones. I love the changes and the anticipation of what’s coming next.
WENDY – Each season has its delights. So I have no particular preference for time of year.
What is your favourite medium and why?
CAROLINE – Working with glass has been the most exciting so far. I love the contrast between the solid, brittle inflexibility of glass and the flowing organic subtlety within my designs. It is a challenge each time to achieve the desired effects.
WENDY – I like varying between free machining, applique work with hand stitch and blending strips of fabric with the needle felting machine to create subtle variations of colour and texture.
Which artist alive or dead would you most like to meet and why?
CAROLINE – Aaron Paquette, an inspiration in so many ways.
WENDY – I would like to meet Angie Lewin, a print maker who creates beautiful designs of plants in the landscape, inspired by places in Norfolk and Scotland. And I would also very much like to meet Tom Thompson, the Canadian artist who inspired the Group of Seven. He painted in a free textural way with a bold colour palette.
Do you always have a sketchbook with you when you’re on the move?
CAROLINE – Yes, you never know when you will see something inspiring, tree silhouettes, clouds in the sky, layers of landscape stretching away, patterns made by a hundred different things, images sometimes come in my dreams or meditations, if I don’t capture them straight away they disappear forever.
WENDY – Yes I always have a small sketchbook in my bag when I am out, ready to capture a skyline, a valley, a flower, a colour, a sound or an energ
How do you unwind after a long day in the studio?
CAROLINE – A long walk in nature with the dog helps me to unwind, think and be inspired.
WENDY – With a lovely meal and stretching out watching a good Scandinavian drama.
Where do you like working best – in a studio or out and about?
CAROLINE – Glass work needs to be in the workshop and I mostly sketch outside, so I get the best of both worlds.
WENDY – Drawing and sketching outside and stitching and playing with fabrics in my studio. This combination is essential and makes for a good balance.
And finally, if you were allowed to keep (but not sell!) one work of art from any gallery or collection worldwide, which would it be?
CAROLINE – Sarah Adams
WENDY – Tom Thompson