In 2020 Shed Certified became a reality after 3 years of hard work and thinking about it for over 10 years before that. We always wanted our own base to create our art and the freedom it brings. No more travelling to other studios to work or renting space. Our ultimate goal is to eventually make this work full-time, as work-life balance is one of the most important things to us.
A lot of this would not have been possible without the encouragement of our friends Veronica and David Johnstone. They love the arts and we have visited them often to recharge our creative batteries and take in the Cumbrian art scene. The artist community in Cumbria are so helpful and we have always come away feeling inspired. Veronica and David were the ones who first introduced us to Printfest and then later Judy Evans, among other artists and creatives.
We first met Judy Evans at Printfest in 2017. At the time she was dressed up and curating a display, showing examples of the history of traditional printing. Little did we know where this chance meeting would take us.
We were invited to see Judy's studio, expecting to look at a printing table that she no longer needs. There was a bit of confusion at first as we were given to understand that it was an 8-foot printing table but were actually two, 8-yard long screen printing tables. At this stage, we realised that the tables were too big. However, we were thoroughly enthralled by the amazing beauty of her screenprints and her talent for producing them on such an immense scale.
We got talking about her work and were blown away with the number of screens that she had managed to save over the years. In the sixties she used to design and print silk scarves which were sold in London, many of these silkscreens still survive and were stored at her family home.
After an enthusiastic discussion, Judy presented us with the opportunity to select any of her screens to keep and use. Initially, we declined as we felt there must have been other options she could have chosen that would have been more beneficial to her. However, she urged us to take the screens as she had already considered other options but none appealed to her. After some consideration, we decided to offer to take any of the screens she no longer in order to preserve her work. We then had the considerable task of getting them home.
Whilst investing in the reconstruction of our studio, we were lucky to have support in a variety of ways. This included but was not limited to, help with tiling, bricklaying and painting to support with childcare. We were also fortunate enough to have had some financial backing at the beginning to get the project underway.
This was a 3-year long project that had to be fitted around other commitments of work, college and childcare. There was also a limitation to the speed of the completion due to health and financial restrictions.
Throughout the build, we endeavoured to source and repurpose materials at every opportunity. This included reusing windows, bricks, paving slabs, timber, sinks, garden gates, kitchen units, vintage set of mapping drawers and even an old tin bath.
We have strived to create a clean white working environment that makes good use of available lighting. This also has the addition of a specialised picture hanging system so that the studio can also be used for small scale gallery exhibitions. In this way, we are trying to utilise the limited space to be as multifunctional as possible.
2020 Coronavirus/Covid-19 and lockdown. Unfortunately due to these unforeseen times, the grand opening that was due to take place this summer has now been postponed until further notice. Additionally, the 2020 Leigh Art Trail has now been postponed until 2021.
When funds and materials become available, we plan to convert our van into a campervan. This will enable us to travel further afield for art fairs etc. We would also dearly love to purchase an etching press and a letterpress, so we can further our creative potential.