Roanna Wells is an artist, living and working in Yorkshire. TOAST has collaborated with her for our ‘Of The Land’ installations. Her work is underpinned by mark-making and making by hand, whether it be the line made by a pen or a paintbrush on paper, a single thread through fabric, or the careful hand shaping of a wooden spoon. Each piece, in its quiet, ordered beauty, shows the hand of the artist, through the small impressions left and the sensitivity of the handling. The paints she has chosen for this project are hand made from pigment sourced locally in Oxford, including Oxford Ochre and Oxford Mudstone. The wood she has sourced for her spoons is from native trees: Boxwood, Cherry and Oak.
Tell us about your work, both as an artist and a woodworker?
My practice integrates a variety of techniques and materials which explore themes of repetition and multiples, collections and arrangements, mark making, process and time based works. I aim to experiment with immediate inspirations rather than fixing to one specific medium or concept. Running through my work is the connection to the hand made - drawn, stitched, carved, arranged - the time consuming nature of this adds a depth and sensitivity which cannot be so easily gained with computerised or machine made work.
Roanna wears: OAS Denim Shirt Dress
Photograph above by India Hobson
How did you learn your craft / skill?
Growing up around my mother's textile studio and my father's antique restoration workshop, I was constantly encouraged to play with fabrics, threads, drawing materials, wood, plaster, gold. So making things and being hands on was a natural part of early life. I've always had a tendency to collect and sort and this attention to detail has come through in my work.
I studied Embroidery at Manchester School of Art where my love of mark making through drawing and stitch was really developed. I have continued to work with these ideas since.
I have been collecting spoons for over 10 years and decided I would like to learn to make my own. After an initial greenwood carving course, I adapted the techniques to create some smaller spoons based on the first in my collection - a tiny silver mustard spoon.
How would you describe your work’s connection with the land?
Although my work doesn't have a direct reference to the land in terms of subject, I feel that it contains an affinity to light, space and place. It is often about how we as humans are part of our space, how we interact with it and the traces we leave behind in it. The fabric I use for my embroideries is most often english wool and the colour schemes for my paintings are subtle and earthy.
Roanna wears: OAS Denim Shirt Dress
Thoughts on collaborating with TOAST?
I've been in love with the aesthetic of TOAST for a long time, so having the opportunity to work with them has been a real treat. For this project I have made a more direct connection with the land through the use of paints made from locally gathered pigments and sourcing woods that are native to Britain, the majority of which can be traced to an exact location.
Describe your workspace…
I see my studio as an extension of my living space. It's a light, airy, comfortable place to sit and think, work on ideas and develop inspiration. My studio is part of an open plan collective housed in a converted industrial warehouse in the city centre of Sheffield. It's a great way to stay connected to the city's thriving creative community at just a short drive from the beautiful Peak District National Park. My studio has west facing windows which allow the gorgeous afternoon light to flood in and bathe the space in sun - it greatly helps my mood!
Roanna wears: OAS Denim Shirt Dress. Photograph by India Hobson
Something that inspires you outside of art & woodwork?
I love to dance and have recently gone back to doing ballet and tap each week. It's such a brilliant way to connect with your body and switch your mind away from all the other things that normally take up space there. I love to watch live contemporary dance.
Roanna Wells' work is on display at our Oxford shop from 14 October – 4 November. There are still a few places left to attend her talk & demonstration on Thursday 29 October 6-8pm, alongside her installation. For more information follow the link here