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Meet the Wagon Yard Artists from Marlborough

26 January 2021

Wagon Yard Artists 2 v3

Injecting a little artistic flair into the quaint market town of Marlborough is the Wagon Yard Artists group made up of six local creatives who have come together to create some stunning pieces over the years.  

Local to our Renaissance Marlborough community we caught up with Jacqui Melhuish who runs the group to find out a bit more about the inspiration behind their work.

Can you tell us about how you came to set up Wagon Yard Artists and the other artists involved?

Wagon yard artists was originally set up in 1998 by Glass and Ceramic artist, Jeannette Therrien. She set up a studio to work and run lessons and workshops. Jeannette acquired talented painters and potters along the way to help supplement the rent and things just all grew from there.

She eventually decided to mainly focus on her glass work and set up a studio from her home in Ogbourne St George where she still practices. I stepped in to take over the running of Wagon Yard rather than see it go. It is such a fantastic set up and offers an amazing opportunity for artists to not only work together with a perfect space for a ceramics workshop but also to participate in exhibitions throughout the year. We now have a beautiful gallery upstairs which showcase the artists’ work.

Can you tell us a bit more about the type of work that the artists create?

There are six artists in total with a range of talents across the different types of arts. Jeannette specialises in glass and sells her work at the gallery and her studio at Ogbourne St George. I am a ceramic artist and illustrator making work from large sculptural forms to Raku vessels and tableware. I also enjoy running workshops and lessons from the studio. Mary Thorne is also a ceramic Artists and sells thrown tableware, carved thrown vessels and jewellery. Jane Renwick is an illustrator turned ceramic artist who makes stunning porcelain lamps and Kate Wade is a painter showing watercolours, oil paintings and acrylic paintings as well as high quality Giclee prints. Our newest Artist is Ann Smith a textile artist who mixes paint, print and stitch. 

With such a wonderful array of artistic media, where do you each draw your inspiration from?

I was inspired originally by my family and the sayings that have been passed down through our generations. I used these illustrations and words to decorate flattened teacups and jugs. I’m also greatly inspired by nature, coastal landscapes and the horizon line where the land meets the sky, evident in my strata vessels. Colour plays its part too and I especially enjoy using cobalt blue which features on my hand made plates and platters. 

Kate Wade says: "I get my inspiration from the local countryside, with its changing weather, seasons and atmosphere. I also love the coast and enjoy the challenge of painting the light and colours in the water and sky.”

Jane Renwick says: "My most reliable source of inspiration is nature. A good walk heightens the senses and opens my mind to see the amazingly beautiful and often very simple designs in nature. I just want to capture, distil and make them my own.”

By using a variety of methods including carving, painting or sketching. Mary Thorne creates bowls that both illustrate and are shaped by the Wiltshire countryside often using distinctive tree clump motif.

Ann Smith finds inspiration from places visited, both holidays and at home, with a particular interest in the textures and shapes which might go unnoticed both in the natural and manmade world. 

Finally, Jeannette Therrien's jewellery, tiles, plates, decorative wall panels, garden sculptures and beautiful Murrine bowls all have one thing in common, a love and celebration of colour! 

What sort of difference has sharing the workshop and gallery made to you all as artists?

Kate says that sharing a studio means visitors often come in to see something of particular interest to them, and get to see a range of different work, creating new customers for everyone. Also, she says "I'm always happy to receive observations on my paintings as I trust my colleagues' judgement!”.

Similarly, Jane says: "It’s so valuable to me to have a group of people I really like and respect, to bounce ideas around with and to be able to give each other support and help.”

We all try to boost each other and swap useful information on printing and suppliers etc. We motivate each other by organising exhibitions and shows, having deadlines is a great way to get the creative juices flowing!

What events and shows do you hope to be able to run again in 2021?

We are hoping that the Marlborough Open Studios 2021 in July will still go ahead. We managed to do our Christmas show this year by restricting visitors to just 4 every half an hour by appointment and obviously strict use of sanitiser and masks. It was a great success so we would be happy to do this again if possible. It attracts lots of new visitors from the local area that usually become regular visitors when they need birthday or anniversary gifts or just wishing to treat themselves to something new for the home. 

What sort of workshops and classes are available at the studio and do you need much experience to get involved?

I run my pottery lessons during term times throughout the year. As these have a long waiting list, I also run workshops so everyone can have a chance to experience the joys off working with clay. The Raku firing workshops are a wonderful experience for beginners or the more experienced. Mary Thorne runs exciting throwing lessons too at a workspace in Swindon. Many of the artists are also tutors at Marlborough College Summer school and look forward to this every year. It is a beautiful environment and a great happy place to teach. Hopefully, this will still be going ahead this year! 

What do you love most about living and working in Marlborough, any favourite places, hidden gems to share?

Marlborough is the most beautiful market town and is only a short step to the most breath-taking views. For example, at Alton Barnes, you can see the chalk hill figure of a white horse on Milk hill on the Pewsey Downs and is just one amongst many places to visit. I also only recently discovered the most stunning 4th-century Roman mosaic in the grounds of the Elizabethan mansion of Littlecote House near Hungerford which is fantastically preserved and free to visit. Marlborough itself also has lots of lovely places to enjoy tea and cake and wonderful breakfasts, I most enjoy Bunces, The Food Gallery and Elaine’s. A visit to the Merchants house is also a must, I really enjoyed the tour full of fascinating and often humorous facts!

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If you can see yourself living in the heart of a thriving market town in our Renaissance Marlborough community, please get in touch with our sales team on 01672 340 012 or email [email protected]lifestory.group. The perfect setting for the next chapter of your life, with prices from £295,000.