Meet the Maker: Gill Birch
In our first of the Meet the Maker series, we introduce Gill Birch, a Shropshire-based artist and craftsperson. A selection of Gill's pieces is available at our shop. You can find out more about her work at www.littlebirdarts.space
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about what you do?
Hi my name is Gill Birch and I am a problem solver, creator and lover of nature. I consider myself a scouser having been brought up in Merseyside. Although I spent my childhood in an urban environment my fondest memories were of our annual family holidays, mostly in South Wales and Cornwall. Here, I discovered my love for more rural locations and I am fortunate enough to currently live in the picturesque Ironbridge Gorge area in Shropshire.
To earn my living I work as a software engineer/architect, which in itself can be quite a creative job and of course satisfies my problem solving side. I enjoy working closely with clients and creating IT solutions to resolve their problems and challenges. The approach to developing these solutions is as interesting to me as the activity itself and this is the same for my art practice.
I am a big fan of walking which is when I do most of my thinking and collecting of materials either images or physical. It is not unusual these days to see me walking along with a particular branch I liked the look of. I also love water based sports including swimming and I am an active member of the Ironbridge Rowing Club.
How did you first discover art?
I have loved doing art for as long as I can remember. My mum is very creative so perhaps this is where it started. I would draw pictures a lot as a child and have always got pleasure from making things. I could not see myself working in an office when I was younger and so pursued a career in art by gaining my BA(Hons) Fine Art at Staffordshire University. Unfortunately on leaving university I stopped doing art completely. It is only recently that my passion for arts and crafts has been reignited. Now that there is no pressure on me to produce anything I can enjoy it for what it is. I am grateful every day for the rediscovery and I don't ever want to lose it again.
What inspires you?
The patterns and movement found in nature; from the light between the trees to the patterns in the objects themselves.
Can you describe your style in three words?
Naturalistic, organic, exploratory
How does your art practice affect your personal wellbeing?
I find the general activity of creating something very therapeutic and rewarding. I benefit from the whole journey; from the buzz of having the start of an idea or a new piece of material to discover, to the end when I have either created something that hopefully gives joy to others or that I have learned a lesson from.
When I am creating something I find I can switch off from everything else, the activity is calming and soothing. I have spent hours just sanding my pieces of jewellery by hand. I like the physical motion of shaping and smoothing the wood, watching as the beauty of the material emerges.
What do you want to learn next?
I have recently completed a jewellery making course working with silver and I am considering whether to pursue this further. I have also joined the local bodgers group and am learning traditional wood crafting skills. I think, however, that my next venture will be to explore printing further having completed a couple of taster sessions learning different techniques as part of the Festival of Imagination earlier this year.
What's your favourite woodland?
My favourite woodland is without a doubt the woodland at Freshfields, Formby, where red squirrels can be found. The woodland leads onto sand dunes and then of course onto the sea. It is a close call on what I love more the coastline or woodlands so to have both makes this a very special place for me.
If I can be cheeky and have two I also have a real soft spot for the ancient oak trees hidden within the woodland on Cannock Chase where the old twisted trees look like they are dancing in the wind.