Creative Coquetdale Folk: Chrissie Buckley – a musician, artist and illustrator

Chrissie Buckley.Chrissie Buckley.
Chrissie Buckley.
An occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk by Katie Scott – this week, Chrissie Buckley, musician, artist and illustrator.

Chrissie’s delicate line drawings capture beautifully the natural environment around us. Her art is for sale in the Coquetdale Arts Centre.

Born in Coventry and raised by her mother and grandmother, Chrissie always appreciated the natural world. “I loved everything about nature; all the trees, flowers, birds, animals,” she says. You can see her close attention to detail in her nature illustrations.

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An art teacher aunt allowed young Chrissie free rein with school art materials; and she loved to experiment. After school, Chrissie went to art college, later to study fashion at St Martin’s. “I didn’t like the fashion world or the people in it. I felt I was frittering my life away on nothing, and that I should do something worthwhile. I decided to become a teacher.” Chrissie enrolled at St Mary’s College in Twickenham and studied art and drama. It was here that she met her husband, Brendan.Chrissie tells me that she sees herself more as a musician than a visual artist. As a child she learnt to play the piano, and when she was 16 her mum bought her a guitar. “I loved the Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Leadbelly, the Beatles, and Stones.” Chrissie remembers being given a record of John Kirkpatrick playing Morris tunes on a melodeon; it made a big impression on her. So, when Brendan saw a melodeon in a junk shop, he bought it for her. She soon learnt to play the tunes; she really took to it!

Chrissie Buckley doing some line art.Chrissie Buckley doing some line art.
Chrissie Buckley doing some line art.

She joined a women's Morris side, playing and dancing, and later was invited to play for the Pilgrim Morris Men in Guildford and joined their Hog's Back Ceilidh Band.

Brendan decided to teach himself guitar and they began performing together and running a folk club in Guildford. They later moved to Worthing and danced with Broken Ankles; an Appalachian clogging group based in Brighton.

In 1989 they moved to Northumberland where Brendan took up a headship and Chrissie taught English, art and drama at the Duke's Middle School. “I enjoyed running a lunchtime ceilidh band. We performed at the old Alnwick Fair,” she tells me.

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Chrissie and Bren soon befriended local musicians and joined the Copperplate Ceilidh Band.

One of Chrissie Buckley's paintings.One of Chrissie Buckley's paintings.
One of Chrissie Buckley's paintings.

Moving to Hepple in 2006 Chrissie became an active part in the community. She joined the parish council and volunteered to help produce Coquetdale’s Community Magazine. She also plays the church organ. She has never stopped learning and enrolled with the Open University to study science. She really got the learning bug and went on to gain a Masters Degree in Art History. And, ever the teacher, gives regular talks to the U3A art appreciation group.

An important part of Chrissie’s creativity has been her involvement with Wercas Folk, a women's choir run by Sandra Kerr.

She tells me: “The choir is fantastic, and Sandra's high standards made it into the celebrated choir it is today.”

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Unfortunately, since having cancer, Chrissie can no longer sing. But she and Bren do play as a duo – and as Triad – with Malcolm Burke on flute, also with a ceilidh band called The Coquet Collective.

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