Artist profile - Louisa Boyd
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 March 2020
Andrew Price 07774611778
With a childhood spent hiking up Bickerton Hill, it was only natural artist Louisa Boyd would find inspiration in the Sandstone Ridge.
Louisa Boyd may have moved away from Bickerton Hill, but this pretty corner of Cheshire always called her back. She missed the hill and its woodland so much after moving away as a student, she would return to paint it regularly. Years later, she could resist no more and bought a cottage in Bickerton's shadow.
Louisa now works from a bespoke wooden studio, built in that cottage's garden, just a stone's throw from the National Trust-owned ridge which kick-started her art career 20 years ago. Also a part-time art teacher at The Queen's School, in Chester, she has been nominated for the prestigious John Ruskin Prize and exhibited her pieces around the world - think USA, Australia and Europe - as well as a number of times at London's Royal Academy of Arts. Her latest work includes paper relief sculptures and prints inspired by Plato and the elements - fire, earth, water, air and ether, the mysterious fifth element thought to relate to the world beyond our own. They have most recently been on show at Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair, in London, and the Ty Pawb gallery, Wrexham, and Louisa has exhibitions in Derbyshire and West Sussex planned for later this year.
'I suppose I was really lucky. I grew up in Farndon and most weekends my sister and I would get dragged up Bickerton Hill for a walk by my mum and dad,' says Louisa, 40. 'It was part of my childhood routine and pretty idyllic looking back.
'When I moved to Manchester Metropolitan University to start my degree at 19, I found myself missing it so much. I realised living in the city didn't really suit me. The fact I didn't have immediate access to the countryside made me feel nostalgic for my home environment. I started painting landscapes and the hill in particular as a way of reconnecting with nature and getting back to what I knew.'
After graduating in 2001, Louisa worked various part-time jobs, supporting adults and children with special educational needs and in an art gallery in Chester, whilst also making a living from her artwork.
'I hadn't planned to become a professional artist,' continues Louisa. 'It was a complete surprise when the pieces in my degree show sold so readily, but it made me realise I could have a commercial career.'
She began selling work via galleries across the North of England. But the financial crisis in 2008 hit art sales hard and she was forced to re-evaluate her career path. Louisa secured an art technician's post at The Queen's School and colleagues encouraged her to develop her own portfolio, whilst studying to become a qualified teacher at the all-girls' school. By developing her skills in both bookbinding and printmaking her work began to develop a distinctive style.
Five years ago Louisa found her life coming full circle when she and husband, Simon Poole, also 40 and a senior lecturer at the University of Chester and senior leader in Cultural Education and Research at Storyhouse theatre, spotted that quaint three-bedroom cottage up for sale.
The couple, who live at the property with their four-year-old daughter, Florrie, have built a studio for Louisa to work in at the bottom of their garden. She divides her week between teaching 11-18-year-old pupils and putting together her own pieces for exhibitions and commercial sales.
'After being inspired by Bickerton Hill as a student, all my work since has evolved and been informed by the natural world, so I was always going to be drawn to this place,' she adds.
'When we saw the house, I knew we had to move here. It felt right, like a natural progression.
'It is such a beautiful place and having that beauty in abundance on my doorstep is so important. To be able to see the hill from my studio and have access to it whenever I want is such a huge privilege.
'My work is very personal, it comes from a feeling of needing to belong and knowing my place in the world. As my work has changed - be it from painting landscapes, my bookbinding, paper sculptures and more recent "Solstice Series" pieces, which explore our position in the wider universe - nature has been the one constant throughout. It is so important - it helps us reset and feeds our well-being, especially in today's society which is dominated by technology, traffic and noise. Everyone's lives are so busy and fast. It is great I can get away from that, by simply walking out of my door and up Bickerton Hill. I can immediately be at one with the natural world.'
Louisa jokes: 'It also helps there is no mobile phone reception up there. I'm lucky - not many artists have inspiration on their doorstep.'
To learn more about Louisa visit louisaboyd.com