Updated: May 23, 2019
It all started years ago...
15thMay 2019, early morning, the allotment needed tender and loving care or an “industrious lady” (as a fellow gardener said) catching up with all duties for later crops to be tasty beautiful vegetables and fruits.
16thMay 2019, the artist/artisan gathers her memories and thoughts about her project she named ARTYchoke.
It all started years ago, during a long recovery from a bone marrow transplant to cure a lymphoma, I spent short spells of regained strength in an allotment site, first giving a hand with maintaining the full plot of an acquaintance; later taking over a quarter of a plot, I was kindly invited to test my own ways my beginner skills.
I took spontaneously many square pictures to capture the rewarding moments of bringing home crops that I grew organically at my own pace, I had each season nurtured laboriously. It had a cumulative effect of some kind. The therapeutic quality was clear like a crystal. Not to forget that it built itself out of love for the flavours, shapes and colours of home grown crops and the value I held for each and every ingredient in all of the dishes I had the pleasure of eating to heal my body and my being.
In the meantime, upon returning to work I found that my focus was different; while I had been ill and unable to manage the physical demands of stained glass work, I had channelled my creativity into writing and storytelling for children, which I illustrated and found it was now driving my work in stained glass too.
I had been given a fresh start, and to coincide with this renamed my studio to Couleurlive.
Not to forget the photos I took of my crops would have to become A Project, it had to be named.
Those pictures had to grow into stained glass cartoons!
It had played a vital part in the healing process. From September 2018 until this September 2019, when thinking of how to mark the 20th Anniversary of my studio, one of my main priorities is to celebrate the rewarding outcome of such an experience.
The project now named ARTYchoke– a series of square stained glass cartoon designs that celebrate the beauty of home-grown crops created using those photographs taken after each pick up of the fruits of my ‘industrious’ hours at the allotment – does just that.
My wish for the coming years is to continue building up catalogues, Series 2 for 2017, Series 3 for 2018, Series 4 for 2019, all based on the yearly crops of my allotment.
As Marga & Collections was happening
This May 2019, is the month of the installation on site of a project supported by the Arts Council England in which I was commissioned to design and make a permanent stained glass window for the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
One of the key themes in this artwork was engaging the local community and encouraging a deeper thinking into the Earth ethical and spiritual challenges that have arisen from the dominant influence human activity, has had on our climate and environment particularly in recent years. It is named the Anthropocene Era.
A concern very true for the generation of Margaret Agnes Rope, late C19th early C20th, to whom this stained glass artwork was also referring to following the exhibition of her work in Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Whilst those of us in more developed countries are choosing to grow our own crops using organic methods as part of our efforts to protect our planet and live better, there are also so many people around the world that do not have this choice. Their livelihoods depend on the crops they are able to grow to feed and sustain themselves and their families, placing so much more value on the work and effort required to grow something.
As I was creating this window I named Marga & Collections, Nicola and her family came to my studio in June 2017.
Nicola’s words will be the best to present what happened:
"I'm not sure when I first came across Nathalie Liege and her fine work. Possibly it was through visiting the English Bridge Workshops in Shrewsbury where she has her studio during the annual Belle Vue Arts Festival. But I had certainly met her through our local allotments too!
Anyway, a couple of years ago we needed to replace our front door. Our house is in a conservation area and many of the front doors in the surrounding streets have old Victorian stained glass in them so we thought it would be fitting to include stained glass in our new but traditional wooden door.
We decided to approach Nathalie to see if she might design some artwork for it. She showed us some design ideas that she had been working on featuring vegetables from her allotment and, given that we love our fresh, home-grown veggies too, we decided that a design along these lines would suit us perfectly.
We chose a design based on a basket of tomatoes for its vibrant reds and oranges which we thought would cast some lovely light inside the house.”
I have modified the design, playing with tomatoes of all colours or sizes and shapes, from yellow to deep reds to nearly dark green/orange.
I received this week, in an email from Nicola, the first pictures of the stained glass artwork on site. The quality of the light is always a challenge for taking photos of a stained glass artwork. Some details will be washed away by the light. I shared pictures of the stained glass panels in my studio, for the reader to keep in mind the range of colours or all the painting lines. You will also find the design as it was first viewed by the client in my ARTYchoke Catalogue Series 1.
On the 17thMay 2019
Let’s hope this will bring a second commission for a new client who wishes to be reminded of “the beauty of the natural world outside” as Nicola wrote it in her review.
I had the first commission starting from one of the designs of the ARTYchoke project, taken from the Catalogue _ Series 1.
I started their tomatoes windows as I was working at Marga & Colections.
Both artwork were with Nature, for Nature.
Katy Rink, the editor of MyShrewsbury Magazine, came to my studio to view and discuss how I define the future of my ARTYchoke project. It has been a joy to share with her the key stories, the essence of the motivation behind it all. Her enthusiasm has for sure added to my passion for this piece of creation taken from my baskets!
I will end my post with Nicola's words.
A great reward for this Project of mine, simple like the shape of a pea, but flavoured like the best blackcurrants ( if you had a chance to test it) or the best sweet strawberries under a warm evening sun.
“The result is stunning. We watch the colours and shapes move across the room through the morning casting varying hues and forms onto the space. It adds life and joy to our home and reminds us of the beauty of the natural world outside - it also encourages us to go down to the allotment to do the weeding!”