CREATIVE COQUETDALE FOLK: Multi-talented Robert Hersey opens up about his very creative life

Robert HerseyRobert Hersey
Robert Hersey
In our occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk, Katie Scott speaks to artist and stage director Robert Hersey.

Robert has strong childhood memories of being in his dad’s big old wooden barn of an art studio, filled with the evocative scent of linseed oil and ‘messing about with charcoal’.

“I remember sitting down at our upright piano and just playing and playing.”

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He remembers ‘being on my own and exploring in the woods and fields of Sussex and Northumberland, being in wet, messy, beautiful natural environments’. This all conjures up a life filled with light, colour and sound from his earliest days.

His father, artist John Hersey, began manufacturing his own pastels, when he found himself dissatisfied with the limited colour and texture of the ones he could buy. He formed, with his wife, the Honourable Katherine Viola Hersey, Unison Colour in 1987. The company remains a family concern and is based in Tarset, Northumberland –

Robert is captivated by so many art forms it is difficult to chose which one to highlight. He writes poetry, paints and draws. Robert studied music at Newcastle. He sings, plays the violin and viola. He also attended the London School of the Science of Acting, learning directing and acting. Robert has toured and performed nationally with various ensembles. He has directed many theatre productions and operas. He taught theatre and music for 19 years, before settling permanently in Northumberland, with his wife, Vicky, and young family, in Harbottle.

Earlier this year Robert was the stage director for the Brundibar Festival in Newcastle. He is enthusiastic about his ambitious plans to form a local opera company, here in the North East. He is building connections, with this idea in mind, with composers, conductors and musicians. The project is in the early stages, with exciting plans for when Newcastle Cathedral is completely renovated. (The cathedral is creating a stunning performance space).

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More locally, Robert enjoys helping with the Alwinton Festival. He is also kept busy running his holiday business Wild Northumbrian. The yurts and huts are based on land next to the family pastel making business.

Robert Hersey is a multi-talented, Coquetdale Creative, who has achieved a great deal, yet still feels he has ‘not yet begun to explore things’.

“I feel I am waiting for the chance to express outrageously. I don’t want to be pinned down to one art form – I love to do everything.”