Dr Andrew Edney Bursaries – Interview with Andrea Mindel

It’s time to meet the next of this year’s three recipients of The  Arts Society South Downs Dr Andrew Edney Bursaries, artist  Andrea Mindel .  The Bursaries of up to £500 are awarded each year to Outside In artists resident in Sussex and Hampshire to support artists’ practice and development and will be available to apply for until 2029. The three recipients this year are artists Julia FryClarke Reynolds and Andrea Mindel

Now That You Are Gone; embroidery threads, gold, silver glass found objects; 10 x 8 cm; 2017

When did you start making art?

As a child I was always interested in drawing, and reading about the lives of artists.  It was in my mid-forties, when my personal relationships, and those with the world at large broke down that I turned to art as a means of making sense of my place in the world.  I drew a lot with fine ink pens.  Then I turned to printmaking, especially etching.  I silkscreened drawings and photographs of iconic local images onto fabric which I sewed into bags, cushions, lampshades etc, and began to eak out a living for myself.  I soon realised that ‘women’s work’ was never going to be valued in the same way as fine art, and I decided to think differently about what I was making.  The function of my work became less obvious, less useful in a physical way, and more about provoking thought.  I’ve been told my whole life that I think too much, and I decided that thinking is actually a good thing, and it is only through mental application that we as human beings will survive the chaos and destruction we have created in our world.

How would you describe your work?

I think my work is not easy.  It is not overtly shocking, but there is a symbolism that runs through it that can be uncomfortable.  I don’t make pretty things to embellish or fit a decorating scheme anymore.  I am finding my voice and purpose through thread, and through learning and applying, traditional embroidery techniques to contemporary subject matter.  I seek expression in a way that is non-gendered, non-binary, and racially diverse against the backdrop of climate change, which affects us all, though not equally.

Why and when did you join Outside In?

I discovered Outside In during lockdown, and joined straight away.  I have always felt like an outsider, especially as I have no formal art school training, and am mostly self-taught.  In fact for years my moniker has been “Living on the outskirts observing the edges”.  

I make work primarily out of self need, but I do need the outside world and I would like my work to make its way into the world beyond me, and connect with others.  

Work In Progress; cotton thread on vintage tapestry; 50 x 50 cm

How would you describe your journey with the charity?

I joined Outside In not sure what to expect.  From the outset, I was offered various forms of support and assistance starting with setting up my gallery page, and helping me to upload images.  

I was interested in applying for a project and I was offered assistance over the telephone which I found incredibly supportive and reassuring.  I have since applied for several other opportunities via Outside In, and each time I have asked for help I have received it readily.  It often isn’t easy to reach out and ask for help or advice, but once I’ve overcome my initial reticence, I’ve been so rewarded.  I’m so appreciative of the input I’ve received.

In the last few months I’ve come to feel less isolated with the support of the charity, and a little more secure in myself.

What has been your standout moment as an artist so far?

I had a standout week!  On Monday 13 July I received an email notifying me that one of my embroidery works had been selected for the Hastings Open 2020, and then two days later I received an email from Outside In to let me know that I had been selected for the Dr. Andrew Edney Bursary.  It all felt rather surreal at first, and even now I wake up and think, “yes, it really did happen”.

How do you plan to spend the bursary funds?

The first tranche of the bursary will be used to fund my participation in the Artwave exhibition in September 2020.  I’ve recently moved to a small village in the Sussex Downs, and part of my reason for wanting to participate in Artwave was to meet other local artists. I’ve solicited the help of our librarian and together we’re organising an event with 5 artists besides myself.

The rest of the bursary will be used to fund the continuance of my training at the Royal School of Needlework in Hand Embroidery.  I will be working on a new technique – Gold Work – and I am looking forward to learning new skills, and creating a new piece of work.

One For Sorrow; Wool on Linen Twill; Jacobean Crewel Work technique; 38 x 28 cm; 2020

What difference do you hope it will make to your work?

I already feel more confident in myself as a result of joining Outside In and receiving this bursary.  

The Artwave exhibition will help me to meet other artists in my locality and not be afraid of showing my work to the outside world.  The bursary will enable me to learn a new skill which is very exciting.  I have an idea of some of the organisations and museums I would like to approach in the future; where I’d like to show my work, and this bursary is helping me make the first steps in a supported way.

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