Last night me and Susie travelled down to Dolgellau to visit the studio of Sonja Benskin Mesher, an artist we've met a couple times before and is always an absolute pleasure to talk to!
I was extremely excited to see Sonja's studio, partly because I'm nosy but mainly because I'm fascinated by seeing were people create their work, what kind of things they surround themselves with, what cd's they have in their studio etc, for me its just as important as the work itself, its all the extra behind the scenes bits that help make up the finished piece - much like a film crew and production staff etc are just as vital and important to the process and end result as the finished movie is. Sonja's studio didn't disappoint from 'War of the Worlds' playing in the background to the clippings and postcards that adorn the walls and the piles of beautifully filled in sketchbooks. The massive bonus was been invited into her home along with fellow visitng artist Antonia Dewhurst. Sonja's cottage is basically an extension of her sketchbooks and studio, pieces of collected art, antiques, collectables, family treasures are shattered, arranged displayed in all sorts of wonderful places, vintage dresses hang like pieces of artwork, seemingly random objects are grouped together effortlessly and although completely different they all relate and interact telling a story. It was visually an Aladin's Cave of delights! I took some photos, mainly of some of Sonja's dolls, she has many dotted around her home, most of which completely freaked me out but thankfully none came to life!! Lots of interesting chat about life, art and the world in general followed.
It was my very first Helfa Gelf Studio visit and a very worth while visit to make. Trips like that highlight to me the extreme value of enterprises such as Helfa Gelf and similar Open Studio events which take place across the U.K. without these events you might never be able to catch a glimpse into the working practice of a certain artist, see how they work, the environment they create in, etc, all of these things can help people better understand and appreciate art, which is surely a good thing?
More info on Sonja's Helfa Gelf can be found here: