Creative Process and Inspiration 

Can you describe a moment of unexpected inspiration that significantly influenced one of your major works? How did this moment change your approach to your art  

CHARLES: In 2011, I was struggling with sculpture so I thought I would concentrate on drawing and make them much larger. This gave me a new freedom, I started to use the whole body while drawing, it was like ‘dancing’ with the drawing. The scale of the drawing helps to ‘envelope’ the viewer in the experience. 

PAULINE: My early work was quite hard-edged and geometric. I then started trying out collages, using torn paper. I didn’t know where it would end up but it helped me look at my work in a much freer way. 

The long arm quilting machine was also a game-changer as it allows me to ‘draw with stitches’ on a whole length of cloth. 

Challenges and Overcoming Them 

What has been the most challenging project or phase in your artistic career, and how did you navigate through it? What did you learn about yourself as an artist during this time?

CHARLES: In 2008 I won a commission in Stockton-on-Tees. It was a massive project, and it taught me how to collaborate with other practices. I found it so scary that I learnt to tackle one problem at a time and not to think too far ahead! 

I learned how well collaboration can work with the right person. Hugo Burge (the late director of Marchmont) has been hugely influential, especially around challenging projects such as Dancing Tree completed in 2022 at Marchmont House in the Borders. An ash tree was sliced, cast and re-assembled with external flanges and bolts. The sculpture is part ‘natural’, part ‘industrial’.   On completion I felt very proud of it.

PAULINE: One of the biggest challenges I have had was when I had an important exhibition lined up for a major UK museum. There was a director change, and many exhibitions were axed, including mine. However, I realised it was ridiculous to mope around – life is simply too short. 

In addition there was a significant moment when Hugo Burge – a great friend and patron to many artists – died suddenly, last year.

Impact and Audience Engagement 

What impact do you hope your work has on viewers or society at large? Are there any specific reactions or engagements from the audience that you found particularly memorable or rewarding?

CHARLES:  I find it particularly rewarding when people who look at my work see things which I haven’t seen myself.  Their interpretation is as important as mine.

PAULINE: I love it when someone feels immersed in my work. I remember a moment while exhibiting at the Whitworth Art Gallery, where a visitor stood in front of my work for ages. It turns out that she had been visiting her son in hospital, and she said that the experience made her feel calm.   


Evolution and Future Directions 

How has your work evolved over the years, and where do you see your artistic journey taking you in the future? Are there new mediums, themes, or projects you are eager to explore?

CHARLES: My work has become less involved with idea and more with response to what I see, letting the idea arrive on the paper without deliberate thought.  I believe in letting ‘things happen’ – and you should go with what life brings you.

PAULINE: I have worked with fabric, stitch & print, developing my textile work over more than 40 years. I have gained confidence with materials and developed my own visual language. I aim to explore new things with every piece of work.

I don’t believe in planning too deeply, but rather working intuitively, studying the plant life and landscape in special selected places.


About the Festival 

What are you looking forward to most about the Pittenweem Arts Festival

CHARLES: It’s about showing our work together, it’ll be fantastic to see the work hung together. 

PAULINE: I really look forward to meeting, and speaking to people, and soaking up the whole atmosphere of the event.



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