Making my Markhouse

Artist Shelly Berry puts her work on show at new local art studio

Artist Shelly Berry at Norah Zeale Studio

As a resident of the Markhouse Road area I was really pleased to see Norah Zeale Studio opening at the end of last year.

Close to the junction with Queen’s Road, it is a much-needed addition to a part of Walthamstow that seems to be lagging behind others. As well as selling crafts and vintage homewares, owner Sounia is also keen to engage with the local community, arranging workshops and residencies for local artists – a position that I was really excited to take on this spring.

As well as having my work on show throughout April and May, on 13th April I set up camp in the shop and invited residents to come along to talk to me about my art – and their own creativity. Although at first a little self-conscious as I got down to some painting, I soon got into my groove and made a start on four pieces while residents looked on.

I always have a meaning in mind when I start a piece of work, but it’s always interesting – and rewarding – to hear how others interpret the end result. As an artist, the symbolism of colour is really important to me, but hearing how someone saw the red in Child as representative of blood and loss, and how the blue and pink in Sky One and Two was linked to questions of gender made me look at my own work through a different lens.

Musings about the use of naked figures being “free”, yet often turned away, also made me consider sub-conscious messages that I hadn’t even realised I was making. Hearing that one visitor to the shop had commented that I clearly had “issues” was quite a revelation – and learning the (often hidden) creative passions of others, from poetry to photography, was also a privilege as well as an inspiration.

Norah Zeale Studios is taking part in the E17 Art Trail in June, as will I, this time at the recently restored St Saviours Church further down Markhouse Road. After that, who knows where my artistic travels will take me!

In the meantime, I hope to see you at Norah Zeale Studio or the church soon.

Find out more about artist residencies at Norah Zeale Studio:
Instagram @norahzeale

Follow artist Shelly Berry:
Instagram @shellyberryoriginal
Twitter @ShellyBerryUK