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Artist

Lifestyle and Interviews

Interview With Manchester’s ‘Bee Love’ and ‘#WeStandTogether’ Artist Amy Coney

July 3, 2017

In the aftermath of the tragic events at Manchester Arena, like everyone within the local community, Artist Amy Coney just wanted to help. The horrendous attack had taken place just minutes from her house.

The very next morning Amy did what knew best: she picked up a paintbrush and started to create a giant worker-bee mural in central Manchester a symbol of the city’s hard-working past, during the Industrial Revolution. When I saw the photo of Amy and her friend hugging in front of the painting I cried. It really conveyed the grief of the community and how everyone was trying their best to support each other in the aftermath.

Amy didn’t stop there. In a bid to help raise money for the victims and their families she set up a collaboration with poet Tony Walsh who delivered the now iconic poem entitled ’This Is The Place’ at the official vigil outside Manchester Town Hall. This piece is called ‘Bee Love’ and has captured the hearts of musicians across the world including Elbow, the 1975 and George Ezra who have flocked to sign her canvas in support. In this interview I catch up with Amy about the process.

You created your beautifully moving street art piece #WeStandTogether featuring Manchester’s worker bee the morning after Manchester’s tragic bomb, can you tell us what you were thinking when you picked up your paintbrush and set out on that journey?

Two of my friends at Social Chain contacted me that morning with the idea that they wanted to do a mural, something positive in reaction to the heartbreak. I jumped at the suggestion having spent the last 12 hours mainly pacing and feeling helpless as we watched everything unfold on the news and Twitter.

A few phone calls to Outhouse MCR (they provided the wall) and by 1pm we were painting. Social Chain’s team helped me with the base and I managed to get most of the detail finished before running off to the vigil at Albert’s Square, I then came back to do final touches a day later.

The whole thing was quite surreal and adrenaline-filled, feeling the most intense need to do something as well as be around people. There was comfort in the comradery of creating something positive publicly – something for others, not just ourselves, something unifying. The #WeStandTogether was and is a powerful message and so relevant. When I put the brushes down and paused to see what we’d created, all of the emotion that had been numbed in the shock came over me like a wave. Sad and grateful tears all at once.

The Charlatans with Amy as they sign Bee Love

What has the reaction to your street-art piece been from the local community in Manchester?

Whilst painting several people gave their appreciation, including many from offices whose windows overlooked the piece. The lovely people at BooHoo actually gave us a round of applause from their window when we finished on the day which was incredible.

From then there has been so much positive feedback especially on social media – people are still photographing it and leaving the loveliest comments.

You are working on another Manchester Bee piece featuring the words of ‘Longfella’ Tony Walsh’s inspirational ode to Manchester at terror attack vigil. Tell us a little more about this project and how people can get involved.

Bee Love is a giant worker bee painting with the words from Tony Walsh’s famous poem entitled ’This Is The Place’ written in the wings with all proceeds going to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund and Forever Manchester.

The canvas has been signed by a number of celebrities baking the cause including Elbow, the 1975, George Ezra and Jonny Marr. The auction will be resuming on the 1st August after we’ve gained more signatures. Prints will be available shortly. If people want to donate or purchase a print they can, alternatively people can help make noise by sharing it on social and telling as many people about it as possible.

Johnny Marr is one of the many musicians that have signed Bee Love

In what way did the words of the poem influence your piece?

I listened to the poem every day following the attack, there was something comforting about it, powerful, raw and strong. Tony’s poems are fantastic, but this one resonated with everyone, and it was also his delivery that made it so and his ability to stand in front of that crowd at a time when not many could have done the same. It gave a lot of people strength. It is Manchester.

‘Some born here, some drawn here, but all call it home.’ I was drawn here and this is my home.

 Art has always been your passion and you have turned this dream into your career. What advice would you give to other people that want to follow in your footsteps?

Keep persisting, and surround yourself with people that support you. Work with others that are better than you and listen to them, they speak from experience, be appreciative of their time and don’t undervalue your own. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or fail, you can always go back to your office job but what a waste if you never tried. Enjoy learning.

For those of you that are new to LedByLucy you may want to have a nosy at the People and Projects section of my blog where I regularly feature interviews with inspirational women working within the creative field. You may also like the Travel and Places section.

Lifestyle and Interviews

Owl Cats And Morrissey Dolls – Interview With Liz Kenny, Creator of Bettie’s Pets

April 20, 2014

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I met Liz, the creator of Bettie’s Pets and her animal creations at a Manchester WI clothes swap party. I was lucky enough to win one of her personalised pets in a competition and I requested a Shih Tzu with an under bite like Dougal, my favourite pooch. The resemblance was uncanny.

Her creativity is infectious e.g. when Liz carved a pumpkin for Halloween, she didn’t just butcher a wonky grin like the majority would. Instead, she chiseled a sculpture that would give Tim Burton a run for his money. She then casually threw together a Raven made from leather gloves adding her own hand-beaded embellishments to complete the theme!

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Liz stitches intricate replicas of people’s pets over at Bettie’s Pets, she also designs and makes costumes at the Royal Exchange Theatre. In this interview Liz discusses her favourite tunes to craft along to, plans for Morrissey dolls and the time it takes to create an ‘Owl Cat’.

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What are your favourite tunes to craft along to?

I love music, music and cups of tea are essential work-buddies. In fact, I keep meaning to do some dolls based on Rock Stars (well… Morrissey!). I have eclectic taste but my latest faves are Deap Vally, Tame Impala and Sleigh Bells. I’m not cool though, I also have B*Witched on my i-pod.

Owl Cat is pretty adorable, how long did he take to make? (Pictured above)

It usually takes a few weeks to make each pet, depending on the size and specifications. The Owl-Cat  has taken nearly two months because it was so different to anything else I’ve made.

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Which pet are you most proud of?

Probably the first pet I ever made, a big tabby cat called Beefie because I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it. I still sometimes feel like that and it’s a buzz when it actually comes together. I love a challenge!

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Tell us more about your work at the Royal Exchange

I’m a volunteer Wardrobe Assistant at the Royal Exchange. It’s really good fun, you never know who will walk through the door. It could be anyone from a CBBC presenter to someone throwing a fancy dress party. I help people choose costumes and I also get to make them too, which is a fantastic opportunity.

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You can see more of Liz’s work and shop the Bettie’s Pets collection over at  www.etsy.com/shop/bettiespets

Lifestyle and Interviews

Interview With Artist Tash Willcocks

March 9, 2014

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 Tash Willcocks’ artwork is peppered across Manchester transforming spaces such as Tech Hub and The Juice Academy. When she isn’t creating her own artwork, she is teaching as the Graphic Design programme leader at The University of Salford.

Tash recently posted the pictures featured in this blog onto Instagram, they are drawn directly onto the pages of Red Magazine, check out her hashtag #Mundaneaday for a daily dose of doodles.

 I interviewed Tash to find out more.

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  What tips would you give to new artists just starting out in their career?

There’s so much advice out there, it’s easy to get lost. Social media has really opened up the opportunities available, you can find yourself talking to your design idols on Twitter, but it can quickly turn from a happy design pond into an ocean of information. I think this is where some people can drown (don’t worry I’ll leave that metaphor there haha).

Basically, talk to people. In Manchester the design community is amazing and there are plenty of great places to hang out, have a tipple and a talk to other artists.

I recommend meet-ups like Northern Digitals, talks like BLAB and places like 2022NQ.

I was once told to ‘make friends not contacts’, sage advice. Another piece of good advice is an Anthony Burrill quote: ‘work hard and be nice to people’.

Which piece of your artwork are you most proud of?

 

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Elbow debut album cover, Asleep In The Back (above).

So, although I wouldn’t say it’s the best (it’s now over ten years old) it’s still one of my favourites.

The building is long gone now. At the time I was very interested in what went on behind closed doors. It felt like that was what Elbow was hinting at in the album.

The photo is hand developed and printed/tinted, I don’t think you can ever quite replicate that feel. The logo was a handmade print as well that almost killed me when it needed to be enlarged.

The main reason that I love this piece is because the Elbow boys and V2 took a chance on me. I had to pitch against others but mine got chosen in the end. Along with Micah who did the inners with me, we beavered away after our late night jobs and sent zip discs nervously to-and-fro. The day I first saw the entire window plastered with my artwork my mind almost popped!

So there you are, I think this may always be my favourite design.

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 I love following your #mundaneaday posts on Instagram, what is your favourite account to follow?

 Oh, so hard! I LOVE Instagram, can I have a couple?

  • MrsEaves101: amazing lettering from Australia, also best pseudonym ever
  • Laylasailor: fantastic stylist, hoping to hook up on project soon
  • BIJDVLEET: just ace hand lettering
  • Staygoldmaryrose: a friend who moved away, AMAZING jewellery and general taste
  • Luanna90:  just an Instagram crush… ace hair

My favourite Instagram hashtag is #TYPEBRUT, it was started by ex Salford Uni student @lemike76 and it’s going global. It’s addictive, like the typographic version of Pringles, once you pop…

 

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Where do you go/what do you do when you have artist’s block?

 I’m incredibly lucky to teach, I have 300 creative brains to bounce off every day at Salford Uni. I’m also a ‘doer’. I do a #Mundanaday everyday and I believe in research through practice.

I’m permanently grazing images and looking around me, but there’s nothing better than just DOING to actually get the creative blood flowing, or go for a walk, look around you, dance with your cat and just loosen up.

My fear is the internet is the first stop for most people and you just get bombarded with images/generic design. Don’t get me wrong there’s some incredible work out there but it becomes all consuming and I fear that you can get trapped looking and not doing (and just because it’s out there doesn’t mean it’s all good)…

Just dance like no one’s looking, be aware of everything around you visually/physically/aurally, live a bit and learn to love your mistakes. You need to make them to make you better…

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You might also enjoy Owl Cats and Morrissey Dolls Interview with Liz Kenny Creator of Bettie’s Pets