International Women’s Day

Published on 8th March 2024

As part of our female takeover for International Women’s Day, we thought it would be a great opportunity to profile a couple of our fantastic female creative tutors.

At Brewery Arts, we are proud to host a diverse range of tutors for our Creative Learning Courses.

The photo shows Amy Williams, a brunette woman with shoulder-length brown hair. She is smiling. On the table in front of her are 3D creations made from paper, including purple houses, a small pink dinosaur and geometric pink spheres.

Amy Williams is a visual artist based in Kendal. Her forthcoming workshops at Brewery Arts are a Paper Cut Flower Garland workshop, and she is currently the tutor of the Makers Club, a club for 7-14 year olds which helps to engage young people in creative activities.

One of Amy’s most recent exhibitions, Unearthed, was at Blackwell Arts & Crafts House and focused on lesser-known stories of extraordinary women in Cumbrian history who brought about positive social change.

How did you begin creating work?
I studied sculpture at college, then focused more on creating two-dimensional paper cut illustrations sold in galleries, but sculpture is my passion. Three-dimensional work came out of that.

I was approached by Lowther Castle, who commissioned me to create a paper banquet, which is a permanent display telling the story of the Yellow Earl. It progressed from there.

What inspires you?
People inspire me, personal stories and not the most obvious stories either. Human stories, I think everyone has an amazing story to tell. The extraordinary and the ordinary. I think because I am based in Cumbria the local community and Cumbrian stories interest me, and that connection with the place I live. The more I live in Cumbria, the more those stories get embedded in you.

Photo shows Amy Williams, a brunette woman in a red jumper, balancing colourful spheres and houses made of paper.

What sessions do you have coming up at Brewery Arts?
I’ve teach the regular makers class, the Makers Club, where we do all kinds of making from clay to papier mache, to using plaster, constructing and building. We’ve made flying machines, we do lots of sewing and working with felt, anything you can think of to do with making. I come up with ideas, but ask the kids as well and get inspired by their ideas. It’s a really lively, creative bunch of children.
I am also leading a one-off workshop, the flower garland workshop on 12 March.

What do you love about working at Brewery Arts and has it shaped your career in any way?
When I first moved up here, I was doing the 2D paper cutting. The Creative Learning Manager approached me, and I started doing paper-cutting workshops for adults, so that started my practice as a freelance tutor. Then I realised wanted to work with children, so I approached the Youth Arts Tutor and volunteered in the Youth Arts sessions and learned a lot there. I was then fortunate enough to become the Community Visual Arts Engagement Officer at Brewery Arts, I learned so much and I was there for about 3 years. It was a brilliant way to connect with the community and that’s one of the things I enjoyed most. I love the creativity that’s involved with being a tutor, I like coming up with ideas and being inspired by the children. Working at Brewery Arts has helped develop the participatory elements within my work, and the community arts side which I love and need.

Photo shows Catherine MacDiarmid, a woman with blonde shoulder length hair, holding a brush to a canvas which is facing side on.

Catherine MacDiarmid is an award-winning local portrait artist who has been teaching a variety of Creative Learning courses at Brewery Arts for almost 29 years. Her forthcoming workshops are Develop a Portrait in Oils (sold out) and Untutored Life Drawing.

How did you begin creating work?
There’s never been a time when I didn’t. AlI I can remember from when I was young was doing art. I struggled with reading and writing but I could always draw, and I think that that’s what I found solace in. So straight from school, I did a foundation, degree and then came back here to Kendal and started working in my mum’s garage. From that point, I connected with other artists in the area via Brewery Arts in 1994. There was a gallery in the Warehouse, and I started volunteering there and connected with the Creative Learning and Visual Arts Coordinator. Brewery Arts was the linchpin of how I started to meet other people. About a year later, the Creative Learning and Visual Arts Coordinator said “right, you can teach” and she put me in a classroom… and it’s coming up to 29 years.

What inspires you?
People inspire me. I’ve always been a figurative painter, so people I know, my family, friends etc. Other things that inspire me are colours, if you see my work a lot of that is quite colourful and linking that with figures, and interior lights affecting the light of something that you see. Dance floors, lighting and patterns, I suppose that’s where my influence comes from. In terms of messages, for me relationships, so my relationships to whoever I’m drawing or painting, their relationship to me, their relationship to other people.

Photo shows a painting by Catherine MacDiarmid, the painting is of a person with short hair lowering their sunglasses. There are a couple of figures which are blurred behind them. The painting is very colourful.What sessions do you have coming up at Brewery Arts?
I’ve got my usual weekly courses that are coming up, I’m going to start nine-week courses after Easter. I’ve got life drawing and portraiture which are my two staples and then I have got a drawing course for those who feel like they want to start drawing and don’t know where to start, so that’s a nice introduction to different art materials and things you could do with drawing. Then my painting course, which is a course you could use either oil or acrylic and think about what it is you want to paint and how we could go about doing that. Then I’ve got two workshops; a life drawing for beginners and a painting figures in watercolour workshop and then untutored life classes.

What do you love about working at Brewery Arts and has it shaped your career in any way?
It’s definitely shaped my career because it gave me that doorway into teaching. It’s given me my first-ever exhibition and supported me exhibition-wise; I have another one coming up on 18 April – 1 June. I won the people’s choice and Jean won the judge’s choice and we have got a joint exhibition. Prior to that, I have had shows intermittently. I know Brewery Arts has changed a lot over the years since I have been here, but I’m a progressive person who loves change. I love new courses, new ideas, new students.
I’m a single parent and I think Brewery Arts has also supported my kids, who have come here and done the Artseen, and my other two did drama here. When they struggled in their school environments, this was a safe place to come and I think everybody is accepted and that is what is so nice about it.

Our new season of Creative Learning starts after Easter, so make sure to check our Creative Learning page for any updates.

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