South West Peer Forum & Sam Bakewell – Report by Hattie Moore

Works by Hattie Moore, Alice Freeman, Luminara Star, and Amanda Lynch ready to be presented during the crit. 

South West Artist Peer Forum meet every few months to present and critique their recent works and ideas. The group of artists based in the South West assist each other to create new work and momentum for contemporary art in the area. Participants benefit from support, advice, and feedback from their peers. 

The group uses the meetings to explore local arts organisations and to meet the people that run them. The artists have brought artwork and discussion to Contains Art, Watchet; Eastville Project Space, Yeovil; and Spike Island, Bristol. 

With the support from Somerset Art Works’ Artist Development Programme, the group invited Somerset-born, London based artist Sam Bakewell (Winner of the British Ceramics Biennial 2015, selected for Jerwood Makers Open 2017 and V&A Museum Ceramic Artist in Residence 2019) to participate in a crit, at group member Lotte Scott’s studio in Corton Denham. SAW members Fiona Hingston, Amanda Lynch and Luminara Star were selected via the open call to take part.

Lotte Scott’s Studio in Corton Denham

Sam gave a comprehensive presentation of his work, showing how his ceramic sculptures have changed over the years. He spoke about the cathartic nature of making small scale and intricately detailed sculptures. His use of materials was intriguing; mixing China clay and coconut oil to make an air drying and reusable clay, and using parian, a clay that fuses to itself when fired allowing ephemeral forms like piles of dust to be fixed. He shared his enviable ability to turn the unused detritus of his sculptures into new and beautiful works. 

Sam Bakewell’s presentation to the group

“Being part of South West Peer Forum Meeting was an incredibly valuable experience for my art practice as well as, my sanity as an artist. The day offered a safe and supportive space to listen to, and share, each other’s work processes and any problems that have arisen while making the work. At the end of the day, I left feeling more comfortable and confident that “uncertainty” is a natural part of the art making process.” Luminara Star

All participants were asked to bring and present new works or works in progress, things that they were unsure about and would benefit from feedback on. Each artist presented and discussed their works and received comments and suggestions from other members of the group. The artists participating were Hattie Moore, Alice Freeman, Jon England, Amanda Lynch, Fiona Hingston, Luminara Star, Sandra J. James, and Lotte Scott. 

Lotte Scott presents new work, pyrolyzed baskets and plants. 

“It was great meeting up with the South West Artist Forum, hearing about Sam Bakewell’s practice and sharing our thoughts on each other’s work. Personally, it confirmed that the work I took along needs a different approach – which is exactly what a good crit is all about, to expand your thought process and making.” Sandra J. James

Fiona Hingston presents her flowers made from graphite, wire and masking tape

‘The day started with a journey through sunlit lanes to Lotte’s studio located in a small village in South Somerset. A rural setting much like the one I work in. This day however was different, as unlike most of my working days, here was a chance for some vigorous discussion and reflection with fellow artists. Sam Bakewell was an inspired choice of invited speaker, he spoke generously about his life and work which set the tone for the rest of the day – one of openness and trust. The event was managed beautifully by Hattie and Lotte, with everyone having enough time to present their work along with an interval for a relaxed, shared meal at midday. I was very happy to be part of the day and hope other artist led initiatives like this will happen in the future.’Fiona Hingston

Lotte Scott holds Fiona Hingston’s delicate flowers

“I found the crit a great, free and open atmosphere, artists all supporting one another was incredible.” – Amanda Lynch

After leaving university it’s hard to find a group of people to challenge and discuss ideas with. The crit with Sam Bakewell and the other artists was a really positive and encouraging experience. I came away ready to explore new ideas and to keep making my work. I think it gave me a much needed boost to continue creating.’Alice Freeman

Alice Freeman presents her sculptures to the group

‘Sam Bakewell was a fantastic choice as artist invited to join our crit group at Lotte’s stunning studio in Corton Denham. Startlingly open and honest whilst working in high profile contexts he engaged with the group without any sense of ego. Whilst as a ceramicist I may have anticipated that there would be little crossover with my own practice, his ability to push the boundaries of his chosen medium to the edges of its capacity, working with both the finest detail or monolithic slabs that destroy themselves on firing, his approach to materials and process had a universal resonance – as he stated, clay is “the material of earth matter and death”. His ability to weave personal narrative and the weightiest issues was a powerful conduit for thinking about my own work. The day played out in a fantastically supportive environment and I believe everyone will have gained benefit from the feedback on their work. For me this was as simple as a book recommendation directing me to a text unknown to me or my academic tutors which has had the capacity to initiate new ways of thinking and making.’ Jon England

The group shared a lunch in the sun outside Lotte’s beautiful studio and had a walk around the surrounding fields afterwards. 

“Hosting the crit at my studio space was a joy! With several exhibitions coming up this summer, it felt very supportive and encouraging to share my current work with the group and discuss everyone else’s unique practices. It was also a real privilege to have Sam Bakewell visit and speak about his work. I would love the opportunity to host the group again soon.” – Lotte Scott

Artists in the Corton Denham countryside