ERTF Conference April 2021 (AGM postponed)

Sensing Place – 17th April 2021 at 10:30am

Debbie Lyddon talk via Zoom – a report (Carole Nicholls)

A sunny day, 32 members and Debbie Lyddon. Debbie was animated and smiling throughout. She shared Sensing Place and in essence Being Me.

Her practise is heavily influenced by family: namely, her grandfather, a signalman who loved the sea (he was a sailor) and taught her to sew and knit as a child. Summer holidays were taken in Chichester and Cornwall where water was ever present.  As a young woman she trained in classical music and taught the flute, so listening is a key part of her practise.

Being Here

Her landscape Wells Next The Sea is her working environment and landscape. Many years ago, she bought a holiday home in Wells and three years ago moved there permanently. She is inspired by the sandy, muddy banks, the long wide horizons, the pine trees, the salt marshes, her boat Pickle, and walking or sailing (seeing the land from both angles). She also has a beach hut as well as a studio where she can draw, create and gain stimuli.

Her main recommendations are to be you and to keep looking.

  • Looking – look for something slightly different, write things down
  • Listening – listen to the sounds: boats clinking, birdsong, the wind. She has a fascination with creating her own ‘pipes’ to capture the sounds in the environment. She also uses a musical system ‘graphic scores’ to capture the sounds by drawing.
  • Touching – textiles is tactile, it needs to be touched. Materials evoke a process or quality, cloth (tarpaulin) utilitarian use, practical purpose, holes, splits, sail making, wax, linseed oil, bitumen, hemp, linen. She uses self-made sketch books, created from folding sheets of paper into 16 sections so she can fill them quickly and easily from her pocket with a few crayons or pastels.

Her work is primarily vessels with holes, reflecting her ‘pipework’. They are dipped in the sea, salt-encrusted, painted with natural products like chalk found locally and dug up by herself.

Other influences are poets like Kathleen Jamie (Inner Seeing and Outer Sensing) and Tim Ingold (Being Alive).

The talk was very informative and inspiring. There was a Q&A session at the end with several members contributing.

Thank you, Debbie, we will all be Looking, Listening and Touching with renewed vigour.

Feedback from participating members was extremely positive, including:

From Kirsten Yeates:

A very thought provoking and peaceful ‘virtual  morning  walk’  on  the North Norfolk coast. Debbie had the  ability  to convey  not just the visual aspects, but  all the  senses  using poetry, even the sound of the wind and the moored boats.  This brought back memories of long ago visits – any  future visit will be enriched . 
Debbie is very innovative in  her inspirations and use of  materials.  I enjoyed learning aspects of traditional  boat-making methods including how locally-sourced ochre is used for painting sails. Debbie kindly advised me how to use some pots of ochre I brought  home from Provence in 2008 and had never used. Ochre mixed with Linseed oil and possibly with wax will definitely be a feature of work this year.  It sparked new ideas –  I will be experimenting!!    

From Cherry Taylor:

Debbie’s talk was extremely well thought out; she transitioned from personal influences through research activities, finishing with a run-down of her materials and techniques. The whole presentation was illustrated with relevant images, both still and moving. I was particularly interested to hear how her musical background has informed her work and how she has explored and revived the historic methods used by sail-makers and translated these into her own practise. It was altogether a fascinating and inspiring session. 

From Frances Green:

What a tonic for the creative soul Debbie Lyddon is.  After so long in lockdown it was wonderful to accompany her on a virtual walk along the north Norfolk coast and experience the elements that are, literally, grounded in her inspiring work. Her ability to capture and translate her environment in exciting ways is mesmerising.  She has a terrific energy, generosity and ability to communicate her processes which everyone who took part in this Zoom conference will have found thought-provoking and exciting. Although current circumstances sadly prevent any of us from meeting in person, this was very much the next best thing!