May 27 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Friday
THE differences between art and craft are often discussed and debated. Taking part in Forth Valley Open Studios (June 11-19) Diana Hand is possibly one of the few who has worked on both sides.
IT was a simple desire for “something more” that led Diana Hand to make the journey from craftperson to full blown artist.
Educated at the Ruskin School of Drawing in Oxford she originally moved to the Stirling area to work at a Rudolf Steiner community in Blairdrummond.
Later setting up her own clothes-making business at Stirling Enterprise Park she said: “I’d always been interested in art and I found that the craft side of things was very simple – playing with colour and pattern.
“Eventually I felt like I wanted to do something more.”
Diana eventually made her way to Glasgow School of Art, getting her undergraduate degree in 2001 and completing a Masters in Contemporary Art Theory three years later.
Concepts and ideas have underpinned her work for a long time, though Diana says that recently she has found herself returning to a more instinct-led approach.
“At Glasgow everything was very theory-led, it underpinned most of what you did.
“When I first started working on my clothes and so on there was very little of that – I worked mostly from what I just felt was right.
“Now, some years down the line, I seem to be going back more to that way of things – a more spontaneous way of working.
“I love ideas. I like looking at things in depth and thinking about them from different angles, but sometimes working that way can be quite restrictive.”
That sense of growing confidence and willingness to go where her head takes her is evident most obviously in her latest work.
Predominantly a textile artist Diana enjoys what she calls “the discipline” of printmaking, but has also begun drawing and working with plaster.
Previously keeping horses they have recently been creeping more and more into her work too, to the point that she is now working on a life-size model of one at her studio near Kippen.
“Nobody is more surprised than me that I’m making this, but I’m absolutely loving it” she said.
“I’d love to still be keeping horses but it takes so much work that I don't really have the time, so maybe this is the next best thing.”
She likens her working methods to those of a child just starting out, but as always her work is underpinned with a strong knowledge base.
“I’ve actually been studying horse anatomy.
“It might sound a bit gruesome but I actually went to a full dissection of a horse down in Oxford two or three months ago that was just incredible, absolutely fascinating.
“I like the variety of my work.
“I come from a small business background so, making things like scarves and cards, those are the things you think ‘well somebody will definitely buy them’.
“The rest of it, I just enjoy experimenting.
“It’s taken me ages to get to feel so free and confident about what I do. It’s a strange feeling, but nice!”
Diana’s studio at Easter Poldar Farm just off the B822 road between Kippen and Thornhill will be open throughout Forth Valley Open Studios, with visitors welcome from noon-5pm daily.
The full event programme is available online at www.forthvalleyopenstudios.com.
Delta Studios at Lochlands Business Park, Larbert are holding a Showcase Exhibition with work from all Open Studios artists from June 4-19 as a chance to see what’s on offer before heading out to studios. he gallery is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am-5pm.