Finding a space for creativity

In our occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk, Katie Scott speaks to Diana Fitzpatrick and Juline Batchelor, two of the directors of Elements Art and Craft Gallery in Rothbury.

Sunday, 28th April 2019, 12:19 pm
Juline Batchelor and Diana Fitzpatrick at Elements Art and Craft Gallery in Rothbury. Picture by Katie Scott.

Juline began her working life as a dental technician, creating bridges and crowns for dentists in Newcastle.

Running her own business, and using small tools and precise materials, this early career was an excellent grounding both for becoming an artisan and for running a co-operative enterprise.

She said: “I had my own lovely, light and airy studio. I enjoyed the intricacy of making teeth, using porcelain, tiny quantities of gold, and firing the end product in a small kiln.

“I was producing miniature works of art.”

The dainty tools needed for such painstaking dental work were put to good use when Juline arrived in Coquetdale in 1990 deciding to become a jewellery maker.

For the last 20 years Juline has concentrated on stained and fused glass.

Diana Fitzpatrick began her working life on a children’s ward of a hospital. After studying nursery nursing, she felt drawn to the artistic aspects of this work and developed an expertise in art therapy.

She also enjoyed making all her own clothes.

“My mum taught me to sew and I made and wore the best full circle swirling skirts when I’d be off enjoying the famous Northern Soul Weekenders,” she said.

It was when Diana moved to Coquetdale as a mum of three young children that she learned the skills of stained glass making. Diana had always drawn, sketched and made prints, but this was a new skill that she has developed a passion for.

Both Juline and Diana make beautiful pieces of stained glass art.

Diana’s prints are quite exquisite. She teaches classes in etching, mono-printing and collage.

Diana and Juline are both vibrant, talented, approachable women, endowed with great craft-making skills.

They have built up a wonderful and very popular co-operative. There is a long waiting list of artisans who would like to be part of Elements.

“It’s a co-operative because we wanted to offer people an affordable selling space,” they said.

“When you are a single creative, it is hard to get work into shops and galleries because they charge so much commission.”

There really is a remarkable amount of Creative folk living and working in Coquetdale.