Siobhan Davies and Karen Logan are teaching a 1.5 hour open-air workshop titled Play / Ground that will explore participants responses to the local Epping Forest site. Happening on both Sundays.

We asked Siobhan some questions about her art practice and the event.

Julie: Please tell us about the workshop. Have you taught this before?

Siobhan Davies: Yes and no… it’s an experimental idea, low key and light-hearted. I’ve lead various workshops of all sorts over the years, from quite tight process-based craft workshops, to ideas gathering in a corporate context and very open fine art workshops with foundation and graduate students many years ago.
The idea came about through a conversation with Karen Logan whose work I admired so much in last year’s Trail, where we talked about discovery through the process of playing and exploring. We thought it would be nice to collaborate together and to share something along these lines with people and hence have two complementary outdoor “workshops” running on consecutive Sundays.

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Julie: This is the 9th LAT. Have you taken part in the Trail before and what did you do?

Siobhan Davies: I participated last year for the first time; I did a little “takeover” type show at what was known as The Fireplaces shop at the top of the High Road.

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Julie: You are one of the organisers of the Arts Trail. What was that like?

Siobhan Davies: It’s been interesting and I hope to have made a useful contribution. The Trail is quite an undertaking given the number of businesses and artists participating now and it’s a real testament to the commitment of a completely voluntary team. Amazing in many respects.

Julie: Tell us a little bit about your artistic background/education.

Siobhan Davies: I always liked art; I did a foundation, BA, MA and as a young artist had a promising start to a career, making work that showed at prestigious venues like the ICA, Cornerhouse, Salisbury Festival, but I put it on pause for a more normal life; it’s a very precarious existence and you need complete dedication and self-belief. Now my children are pretty independent, I’m enjoying that I have more time to make again.

Julie: How would you describe your art practice? What kind of things inspire you to create art?

Siobhan Davies: I’m very contextual; I tried not to be as it’s quite inconvenient, but in the end, I like the frisson of intervening with a space and contained set of meanings, expectations. I’m interested in ideas about magic and the supernatural. The rational mind has not really moved very far from primitive superstitions and behaviours. I love the vocabulary of folk art, mark-making, artefacts of ritual and belief.

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Julie: How would you describe a good day in the studio?

Siobhan Davies: A successful firing, opening the kiln to find something good. Quite rare. I’m learning to make my own glazes from raw materials, I spend a lot of time experimenting, testing, documenting, quite geeky.

Julie: What challenges (if any) do you face in preparing yourself and your work for the Trail?

Siobhan Davies: Time really… it’ll be what it is on the day – I’d prefer it all to feel more known and certain, but I’ve always pushed things right up to the deadline.

Julie: Do you collect art?

Siobhan Davies: Yes, over the years we’ve been given pieces, have bought some pieces we love from artists we want to support, have accumulated found objects with all kinds of sentiment attached plus we like homemade things; it’s not a minimal look.

Julie: Please tell us something you really like about Leytonstone.

Siobhan Davies: I very much like the old Woolworths windows on Church Lane, despite what Argos have done with them. All the other things I love about the Stone are evidenced in my involvement with the Trail. As an area it’s still relatively undiscovered.

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Julie: Besides the Trail, what is coming up next for you and where can we see more of your art in the flesh or on-line?

Siobhan Davies: For me, it’s more about getting back into my own work and meeting people I enjoy exchanging ideas with at the moment. The Trail is a nice opportunity to experiment, work to a deadline; I’m not in a hurry to show more widely. I do some arts and crafts evenings called Make E11 locally; I’m keen on the idea that everyone can make; it’s rewarding, involving, social and meaningful, people can get a lot of joy from their own creativity.

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