We have had quite a turnover of artists on the tour this year with some long standing members of our tribe stepping down, some moving on to different career emphases, others who are busy this year and may be back another year. We wish them all well wherever they go!
But that leaves space for new faces and new sites, and we have added four new site artists this year, an unusually high amount. Conveniently for your blogwriter, we have some interesting new patterns: Two furniture makers join us this year: Mike Wilkins and Jeff Baker, both with an interest in recycling and sustainable production, but with different approaches. Mike Wilkins, site 4, got into furniture making after moving to Uxbridge and ‘upsizing’ to a bigger house – he and his wife could not find the kind of furniture they wanted for their new home, so started to create it from discarded and salvaged elements, both metal and wood. The results are unique and eclectic, with strong, simple designs.
Jeff Baker, site 22, on the other hand, describes himself as a woodworker and is passionate about not only working in wood, but also working sustainably in wood. This means working almost exclusively in salvaged lumber, and taking delight in combining new design with ancient solid wood joinery techniques.
Our other new artists have both been living in the Uxbridge area for a long time, but have only now decided to join the tour: Mark Ruchlewicz, site 8, is a painter whose representational style of depiction creates mysterious and compelling images, often verging towards surreal juxtapositions, but somehow retaining calm order. We are amused to see that he now describes himself as a ‘Starving Artist’ since retiring from teaching art. Hopefully the studio tour will help in bringing in some groceries.
Sally Wildman, site 14, is a long time resident of Claremont, and it is delightful that she has joined the tour after years of being part of the arts community here. She describes herself as a mixed media artist but really here is where you will find some of the finest drawings around. Pastel, pencil, sometimes pen and ink – all used to bring to life animals, landscapes, flora and fauna.