As part of this year’s Christmas campaign we have focused on the makers who make original, innovative gifts every day here at MCDC. This week we speak to painter Jessica Owen of Northern Scapes, Studio 16, who’s been resident at MCDC for 13 years, about the inspirations behind her work and her memorable commissions and gifts as we enter the midst of the Christmas season.
What are the main inspirations behind your work?
I begin every painting with the physical process of cutting pine to the specific size of the desired canvas. I then build the frame and finally stretch the canvas by hand. This physical exertion prepares my mind by focusing on a simple labour process that then eradicates every day stress and distractions. My focus is then purely on the blank void.
I am physical and emotional, I am part of nature, I am solitary. The motion and the breath of the wind, the sea exhilarates me. Nothing is still, an energy encompasses me and then I paint.
What is your favourite thing about Manchester Craft & Design Centre on the run up to Christmas?
I love the bustle and busy vibe around the centre at Christmas. All the hours spent over my art and craft come to fruition over the festive period and I love wrapping up special gifts over a mulled wine with regular customers, many of which I now count as friends.
Why should people buy handmade gifts this Christmas?
Buying handmade is all about love! A handmade gift is lovingly made with heart and soul. It can be passed on with love to a loved one and all those ideas and sentiments can take pride of place on their wall for years to come.
What is the most memorable commission or customer purchase of your work you have ever received?
I recently sold work to Maxine Peak, who frequently visits the Craft Centre, and I have been commissioned by British cycling to create a large piece for the world Championships held at Manchester Veladrome.
The most memorable commission was probably a huge mellow and dream like painting of the Big Sur in California, for the LA home of the Scottish actor John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sliding Doors etc.) I’ve also sent my work to Australia, Japan, and China amongst other places; in China one of my pieces hangs in a Chinese ambassador’s office! It’s really thrilling to think that my work lives all over the world.
What’s the most memorable gift you have ever received?
My grandmothers wedding ring is now my wedding ring and I plan to pass it on to the first of my girls to be married. If she’s as sentimental as me that is!!
Manchester Craft & Design Centre is open 7 days a week throughout December with a wide range of unique gifts made by local artists, designers and makers based within our 18 studios. With live music, the best in seasonal produce at Oak St Cafe and cutting edge contemporary craft in our current exhibition, Heated Exchanges, there’s no better way to remedy the hustle and bustle of the high street.
Buy handmade and make this Christmas truly one to remember!