Focus on an EVAN artist: Dorothy Ramsay

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A socially distanced interview with Dorothy Ramsay by Sarah Hiscoke.

This interview couldn’t be conducted in the usual way, due to lockdown and tier restrictions, so as a result, I feel I am just going to scratch the surface of this mixed media artist who views and depicts the world around her with incredible colour, energy and inspiration. This article will include comments from Dorothy and some of my own personal view of her work. Hopefully it will still give you a feeling of her pieces and inspirations and you can use the links at the end to see and learn more.

Dorothy, as a child, loved to draw, going every Saturday morning to Shipley Art Gallery. She attended Sunderland Art College where her initial interest was printmaking. Afterwards she progressed on to Camberwell to take a degree in etching.

Dorothy has an enquiring mind and loves to learn and experiment. As well as her art degree, she also gained as well as an MA in art and MA in Family Therapy. She has moved around a lot, living in different parts of the UK and learning new skills. She enjoys experimenting with different media and at different ways of looking and depicting her chosen subjects.

She studied alongside Scottish crofters at Morrora. Using skills gained there, she set up a weaving-shed in Findhorn (the well-known community project on the east coast of Scotland).  Dorothy learnt tapestry with the head of the Dovecote studio in Edinburgh.  All These experiences later helped her in opening a weaving shed at Wetheriggs Pottery, employing 5 to 6 weavers to produce rugs using the wool from fleeces of local sheep.  She still likes to keep her hand in earning a living by making hooky rugs for a time.

‘Colour, colour, colour!’ is what I principally notice in her work. Dorothy herself, from a distance, seems to wear a colour palette, acid green yellows against warm reds, with a touch of blue.  She talks about gem-like drops of colour and looking at recent work, her use of colour is really evident. She explains how the tapestry work from the Gobelins area of Paris with its small gems of colour is something that has influenced her work.   Other influences have included, the local artist, Winifred Nicholson, with her distinctive use of colour and light in still-life and landscape compositions and Paul Klee, an important colour theorist, who was known for his playful way with colour.

She tells me how she once restricted her colour palette to black and white for 10 years and says:

 “I know I can stick to something which now lets me fly all over the place, changing direction possibly twice a week, from printmaking , painting abstracts to landscapes. When you know you can really do something you are free to not do it.” 

Dorothy is part of Eden Valley Artistic Network and Eden Arts, two different organisations helping to encourage art and culture to thrive in the local area of Eden. She tells me how being a part of a local community has helped her as an artist. Art is often an isolating occupation, so she values the local crit groups and the feed-back.

At the moment Dorothy is working on a series of ‘heads,’ aiming to complete at least 40 of them with a view to an exhibition at the end.  Dorothy is trying with this project to restrict herself to one subject – ‘heads’.  She tells me that, lockdown has proved helpful with this as it has stopped other distractions and enabled her to work most days producing a large volume of new work pushing herself and being able to experiment during this time.

You can see Dorothy’s work at EVAN Gallery or visit her EVAN profile page.

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