Bursary Artist takes inspiration from the waves

Emerging local artist Clare Willcocks is teaming up with Northam based printmaker, Josie Grant, for their first Devon Open Studios event.

Clare and Josie will be opening their stunning Northam venue to visitors from Saturday 10 to Sunday 25 September 2022.

Clare was selected along with four other artists across Devon to be awarded an Emerging Artist Bursary by Devon Artist Network, the organisation behind Devon Open Studios. The bursary aims to nurture and encourage new talent to take the next steps in their career. Previous bursary artists include Amelia Webster in 2021, who has gone on to be a finalist in the Holly Bush Emerging Women Painting Prize and Ruth Helen Smith who has since opened her own gallery in North Tawton, where she will be showing her work for this year’s Devon Open Studios. As well as the bursary, Clare is receiving support to further her career as an artist, an opportunity which she is excited to have been chosen for. 

Clare said:

“To have my efforts recognised with an Emerging Artist Bursary is a huge boost. I’ve been working on my ‘Wave Collection’ of oil paintings for the past nine months, and I’m excited to be exhibiting them for the first time during the event.”

Josie Grant, apprentice to eminent printmaker Merlyn Chesterman, will be exhibiting alongside Clare at Josie’s charming, historic property Tadworthy Tower, in Northam. Visitors can not only view the pair’s work, but can also join workshops to make their own art. Josie will be leading printmaking workshops and Clare will be offering relaxed ‘Sketching in the Garden’ experiences.

Other local artists taking part in Devon Open Studios include Pebbleridge Art Studio manager, Emma Johnson; esteemed seascape artist, Amy Jobes; prolific plein air painter, Debs Last with ArtMakers; and talented artist duo, Jackson and Young. 

Studios will be opening across the county, welcoming in members of the public to view original art, meet the artists and see behind the scenes. It’s a rare chance to get up close to original works of art which ordinarily may only be accessible online. Visitors are encouraged to plan their own trail, and visit several of the venues on their own art tour. 

Devon Open Studios is a huge event in the local art calendar, helping to support artists make sales, and establish connections directly with the public, with most venues offering a range of cards, prints and affordable art.

Clare, a self taught artist, draws her main inspiration from the coast – the movement of water, the land where it meets the sea, and the creatures that inhabit it. 

Clare said:

“I can’t imagine living away from the sea. I love it in all seasons, and often feel an intense desire to capture fleeting moments – a wave about to break, calm ripples in the surface, stormy skies over the land.” 

In addition to being a fine artist, Clare is also an illustrator and live wedding artist, painting 10 minute on-the-spot portraits of couples and their guests.

For Clare, painting is akin to meditation, a feeling which she shares with Devon Open Studios partner Josie. 

Josie said:

“When I’m carving my designs into lino, I’m fully in the zone and focussed. I work on pieces I feel moved to create – lately these have been lino prints inspired by nature and their many different forms.” 

Josie has made a splash in the North Devon art scene with her heart warming lino prints, and is deepening her knowledge of the craft as apprentice to North Devon master printmaker, Merlyn Chesterman. 

Josie said:

“I’ve learnt so much from Merlyn, and I’m excited to be sharing my own knowledge about the artistic process of lino printing with visitors to my workshops during Devon Open Studios. It’s exciting to be sharing my work and space with people face to face for the first time.”

From 10 to 25 September, 366 artists will be exhibiting their work at 213 venues across Devon. Devon Open Studios Guides are available from community venues, libraries and tourist information offices.

View Clare and Josie’s work on their respective websites, and book their Devon Open Studios workshops online: clarewillcocks.co.uk and josiegrant.com