Through the Lens

Our new exhibition: the photography of Claire and Jack Schonhut from

Saturday 29th June.

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Artist #3 Erika Robertson

Derbyshire Open Artists: 

Hello, as promised this week we will be introducing you to the artists taking part in this years Derbyshire Open Arts and exhibiting their work at The Smithy Studios.

Erika Robertson

Erika primarily works with oil paint on wood or canvas. Her art is an eclectic collection of images arising from her experiences and imagination. A strong theme in her work is the contrast between life and death.


She explores the beauty and severity of life through colour, abstraction and repetitive forms. Her paintings are representations of images that have stayed with her until she has committed them to canvas. Erika describes the need to paint them as a compulsion, a necessary action to clear them from her mind.


The use of many layers of oil paint, in painstakingly meticulous detail, gives a depth to her work arising both from the weight of the paint and the combination of colours coming through the layers.


Artists talking

During last years Derbyshire Open Arts event participating artists were filmed by student Jack Hoard who spent a day visiting a selection of artists in the town.

Jill Shaddock Ceramics

We are introducing our new featured artists today. First up is Jill Shaddock. Jill is a graduate of the 3D Design programme at Manchester Metropolitan University and has been chosen by The Crafts Council to join their 2013 Hothouse scheme.

Jill’s vessels are created from formers that are turned on a lathe, using a method called slipcasting. Liquid clay is coloured with a combination of stains, poured into the mould and left to form a skin within the mould. This process is long and can sometimes mean that Jill has to have fifteen moulds on the go at once.

We love the resulting layering and feel that these vessels are both decorative and functional.

We stock a selection of Jill’s work; single vessels from £16 – £40 and multi-vessel pieces such as Trio (£75) or the Sushi set which retails at £100.

A special invite & two new ceramicists

Readers of our blog are invited to our vernissage for a preview of the work on display over the Glossop Christmas Art Trail weekend. As well as work from our established artists and our graduate award winner Dominika Laszkowska we have work from ceramiscists Jill Shaddock and Marie Canning.

Pendant from Marie Canning

Since graduating from Manchester School of Art with a First Class Honours Degree in Three Dimensional Design, Marie has now set up a studio in Liverpool.

Previously having worked in healthcare, Marie is inspired by the way we strive to take responsibility for our health. Fascinated by the Victorian era and their advances in medicine, Marie’s current body of work is inspired by the use of herbal medicine in the Victorian apothecaries and the decorative ceramic vessels which carried them.

Torn between the functional and non-functional, Marie has created both wearable jewellery and non-functional decorative pieces. She primarily works with ceramics, in particular porcelain and uses the traditional process of throwing in a unique way to produce her miniature vessels.

Marie’s work is priced from around £30.

Jill Shaddock is another favourite of ours and a fellow Craft Council Hothouse 2013 selectee with Catherine Carr.

Jill describes her work…

My practice focuses on the exploration of materials and process. My current work looks at celebrating and enhancing the process of slipcasting and exploring how a user relates to a product by creating a narrative. 

By manipulating the normal methods of slipcasting, using a layering technique, I create unique objects that elevate a process normally associated with mass production. My methods of using body stains and firing the ceramic to a high temperature, means the vessels I create are both aesthetical but also functional.

Sushi set by Jill Shaddock

Finally, those details for the Vernissage… 6pm – 8pm on Friday 23rd November

ps – we’ve updated the Xmas Art Trail page

Glossop Christmas Art Trail

We are taking part in the Glossop Christmas Art Trail again this year; a great opportunity to shop for unique art and craft gifts from local artists and makers. Over 20 artists and makers are taking part this year acoss six venues.

You will find ceramics, fine art, stained glass, jewellery, art prints and much more. Over the next two weeks we will be profiling the artists taking part; both here and on the Art Trail page.


Cultural Identity: Some Thoughts by a Swedish Artist

I have just had a wonderful week with dear old friends visiting me from Sweden, so when asked to contribute an artist blog I was instantly thinking of what it means to me to be a Swedish artist, living in the UK for many years now.

Years ago people started commenting that they could observe my Swedish (alt. Northern or Scandinavian) origins in my work. At that time I remember being surprised, as I was not aware that my so called cultural identity was particularly evident. Since then, however, I discovered a rich source of inspiration going back both physically and spiritually to my roots to draw on my cultural and personal heritage. From the Millennium year I consciously travelled back to collect and retrieve information, memories and experiences, resulting in a three stage series of exhibitions, “Sources, Symbols & Signs” (Stockport Museum & Art Gallery 2004); “Åter-vinning” (Vännäs Konstförening 2005); “Retrieval” (Buxton Museum & Art Gallery 2006). It was an extraordinary creative and personal journey and eventually something of a relief to have completed it and thus processed my story.

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‘Frozen Green House’ and ‘Silver Birch Tree’ from the ‘Celebration’ Triptych 2009;

The Big Thaw I & II (2011);  Aurora

In the past five or six years I have felt more of a freedom in how I express myself as a Swedish born artist living in the Peak District. One Christmas (2009) was richly snow laden in the far north of Sweden and I came back with magic images around Advent, Christmas and the New Year.

In the beginning of 2011 I spent some time in the north skiing in the forest, and experienced that amazing time in smells, colours and light which constitutes the sudden shift from winter to spring, the big thaw.

 It inspired me to do a very ‘textily’ couple of images showing the actual change in colours and light seen on ground level. I also created a triptych (or more loosely a ‘trio’) called Northern Spring. One of the images came out of a late evening in the very last days of March when the northern light visited unexpectedly over the farm where I grew up. A magic experience.

This year I have been immersing myself more in the magic of the Peak District which is my home of almost ten years, the result of which can be viewed at Smithy Studios’ autumn exhibition “Landmarks, Legends & Legacies”. Welcome to go and have a look!


14th September 2012