Meet the Maker - Barbara Anderson | Living North

Meet the Maker - Barbara Anderson

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Barbara Anderson-Drawing
Lover of all things Audrey Hepburn, upcycling and illustration, North East-based artist and lecturer Barbara Anderson creates unique mixed media works of art inspired by our local landscape and old-school Hollywood glamour
Barbara Anderson-Drawing

What was the driving force behind Anderson Artworks?
I’ve loved arts and crafts ever since studying illustration at Liverpool University. I now live in West Boldon and teach art and design at Newcastle College so I’ve always had an arty background. I enjoy painting iconic female figures such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe and collect vintage items such as old maps from various flea markets and retro fairs. I had the idea to combine my paintings with these local vintage maps, which led to works such as my ‘Geordie Audrey’ series, and Anderson Artworks was born. 

When did you realise you could make a living from your work? 
I received a number of exciting requests from people asking me to make maps/artwork that was relevant to them, so I began making personalised 3D maps in box frames. After that, I trialled my work at various craft fairs across the region and it was then that I realised that people admired my work. It’s lovely to think that people are now enjoying my work in their homes and that my artwork connects them to a memorable place in their lives. I love upcycling small pieces of furniture and giving them a new lease of life, which led me to expand my range of products to include things like limited edition prints, personalised cushions, handmade and customised jewellery and of course my framed cutouts.

What inspires you?
Renowned fashion illustrator David Downton is a constant inspiration to me, I find his work so effortlessly stylish and chic. I also find Audrey Hepburn fascinating. My husband is a photographer and we did a photoshoot of me in my little black dress in honour of her. In terms of setting, I have a beautiful sun room at the back of my house which I converted into a studio. This is a place where I can paint for hours. I tend to get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I forget the time and before I know it, it’s midnight. 

How do you source the right map for each piece?
I spend a lot of time rooting around flea markets, boot fairs and so on as I think there’s something wonderfully romantic about old maps. I always wonder who owned them and where they went on their travels. Obviously the older the map the more fragile it is, there’s often a lot of tears or creases so I always scan the maps rather than cut them up. I feel like  they are given a new story when they become part of my pictures. 

Have you had any unusual requests?
Probably the most unusual was for a map of Mauritius to be cut out in the shape of a dodo. It turned out to be a very eyecatching personal piece, however, as the client was from Mauritius and the artwork reminded her of home. Another request I had was for a map of Buffalo, a state in New York, to be cut out in the shape of the buffalo mascot for an ice hockey team called The Sabres. 

Where can we find your work? 
My work is shown in the North East Art Collective in Eldon Garden, at various craft and vintage fairs across the region and on my website (www.andersonartworks.co.uk). I feel very lucky to see my work hung in galleries and enjoy setting myself new challenges in order to keep my art fresh and creative. 

What does the future hold for Anderson Artworks?
It would be brilliant to be able to work full time on Anderson Artworks, perhaps branching out into other areas such as clothing or larger furniture. It would be exciting to transform my ‘Geordie Audrey’ into a ‘Cornish Audrey’ and perhaps even have my own little shop. I would also love to 

Published in: November 2013

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