Over the next coming Sundays I shall be posting my own artist interviews with some of my favourite people who reside in this multitalented world of art… Today we have the the wonderful Ruth Sutcliffe to answer a few questions… over to you Ruth!
First of all, who are you?
Hi, my name is Ruth Sutcliffe of Ruth Makes Jewellery. I live with my partner Jez Coates and our cat Rusty in a really old cottage up in the Pennine hills of West Yorkshire. After a long stint working at Yorkshire Water a change of direction was definitely called for, so in January 2015 I became a self-employed silversmith with a 10 second commute to work! I only have to step out of the door to be reminded of my inspiration, be it in the garden or surrounding fields, the trees, views, animals and birds. My hand sawn sterling silver jewellery reflects this inspiration, and after initially being drawn to all things shiny, I have since developed a preference for an oxidised style which gives the jewellery a certain atmosphere.
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer?
I quite fancied working in a mortuary, though in what capacity I’m not totally sure, I just had a certain fascination with dead bodies! A friend used to subscribe to a real-life crime magazine which I used to borrow and which was an interesting read to say the least. Even now I love to watch operations and post mortems, albeit on tv!!! Otherwise, it would have been working at an Arab horse stud farm. Slightly diverse random interests it has to be said!!
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
The ‘glamour’ of ‘Crafts in the Pen’, Skipton has to be up there. This event is held in a cattle market (albeit under cover) in November, and can be decidedly chilly. Trying to move in what feels like hundreds of layers of vests, chunky jumpers, thermals, coats, hats and gloves, never mind being able to use frozen fingers to serve customers is sometimes hilarious, and must look ridiculous. One time we were in a pen with a drain …. the aroma of animal pee is perhaps not the desired Christmas scent. Suffice to say we took scented candles as a disguise!
What is the hardest part of being creative?
A couple of things spring to mind. Creative block – new ideas do not always readily appear. The occasional feeling of isolation, though talking to myself and my cat has never been an issue for me! Pricing can be an absolute nightmare. And initially the feeling of exposure at events. I just wanted to hide under the table the first time I saw people approaching the stall.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Experiment. My work has certainly evolved since I began. When I look back at early makes, I do kind of cringe. I think we all have to go through those early stages until we ‘find ourselves’, be it style of makes, media (I moved on from silver clay, beads and gemstones to sterling silver), stall set-up, packaging. Don’t be disheartened, I was told it takes 3 years to become established, and that pretty much seems to be the case.
What subjects inspire you?
I’m inspired by those all too brief glimpses of the local wildlife, stunning day/night skyscapes, ethereal misty mornings. The breathtaking excitement of witnessing a hare running across the fields, the antics of the many birds feeding in the garden, the posturing and stretching of our cat, the myriad shapes and textures nature gifts us, the endlessly beautiful foliage and flowers.
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
This is such a difficult question to answer. The more artists I get to know, the more I could include here. Anyway, three artists I really admire are Hester Cox who creates wonderfully atmospheric collagraphs; Christian Hook who won Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 and whose broken images style is mesmerising; and Linda Erliz, artist, ceramicist and general crazy lady.
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Three artists who have great meaning to me: my dear departed friend Ingrid Gill whose particular favourite media were pastels and ceramics and who created a wonderful portrait of our dog Vickie; Cecil Aldin who created such wonderful dogs and other animals back in the early 1900s; John Atkinson Grimshaw, whose grippingly atmospheric night time scenes feed my imagination.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
Ooh, this is a tricky one. So I’m going to cheat and show three ….The oxidised running hare is my signature piece; the maple leaf brooch was a real statement piece; the leaping hare by the moonlit ancient tree is a very atmospheric piece.
What was the last piece of art you sold?
This oxidised flying crow pendant sold at our last event, and was actually wanted by three people which took me totally by surprise.
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
Goats cheese and goats milk too.