Artists under Lockdown: Derek Wilson
A potter lying low in Belfast.
The Design Edit (TDE): How are you keeping busy in self-isolation?
Derek Wilson (DW): I am fortunate in that I can get access to my studio, which is in a huge mill space with several businesses, most of which are closed. The biggest difficulty has been children: a five-year-old, a thirteen-year-old and another baby on the way! It is a very strange time to be pregnant. At the last scan my wife found out she was going to have a boy – and I couldn’t be there. She is studying film production at Queens University and so is having to work hard to complete this year’s work in order to be able to take next year off. This means that I have taken control of homeschooling. The thirteen-year-old is fairly self-sufficient, but every day we are sent an email from my five year old’s school teacher telling me what we should be going through. The difficulty is trying to keep it fun! So that is how I spend my mornings. After lunch I go down to the studio for the rest of the day.
TDE: Everyone’s pace of life has slowed down considerably; what is the impact of this new rhythm on your work and home life?
DW: It actually feels quite a healthy balance. The reality of trying to work at home is grim – you need space to focus on your work. I think I’ve been quite lucky because I have been very busy for the last two years, but I haven’t had the time to step back a bit. I had an exhibition with Jochen Holz at Make Hauser & Wirth in January and then it was Collect. After Collect, there were commissions, which I’ve been working on. Once these are finished, then there will be time for me to look at books, play with ideas and experiment. I am looking forward to it! This slower pace of life is quite refreshing. The person who is suffering is my younger daughter, Violet, who can’t run around with her friends.
TDE: Do you have a favourite self-isolation recipe to share with us?
DW: My wife and I became vegetarian a year or two ago. My wife is a much better cook than me, and has been doing her own baking, but one of the things we can all do together with Violet is make fresh pasta, with my pasta machine. And we all like the Black Bean Buddha Bowl from Minimalist Baker.
TDE: What is saving your sanity under lockdown?
DW: Curiously what has been saving my sanity is having an opportunity to seek out new inspirations. In the studio I have pieces to sand or glaze and my time is managed and condensed, but in the evening I have been trying to get a bit of time to read and also to sit and draw. I would like to get back into sketching, which has always been important for my work, but over the last period of time my sketches have been very technical and I would like to be more experimental.
TDE: Which online exhibition/gallery viewing room, or other internet offerings have caught your eye?
DW: I have really been enjoying the Von Bartha gallery’s new online offering, the stories behind the artists and the gallery, which is fifty this year. I am really excited by their artists. I am probably much more interactive with podcasts and websites than before. I usually have Grant Gibson’s Material Matters podcast on when I am working in the studio.