Red Studio Enquiry Conversations

Red Studio Enquiry Conversations 

Saturday 23 September 2017

Venue:  Lower Tudor Room, Christchurch Mansion, Soane Street, Ipswich IP4 2BE

Time:     11am4pm

Cost :      £7  booking on eventbrite essential as places are limited

Obscure Secure is a collaborative project between the artists Claudia Böse, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley focusing on works by women artists in collections. 

Following the artists Red Studio Enquiry residency earlier this year in the former home / studio of painter Mary Potter (1900-1981) you are invited to join us for a day of discussion and activity around gender, place and collections. 

10.30 am Tea and Coffee

11 am Start

Please note a full lunch is not provided but we will be providing Tea / Coffee and light refreshments throughout the day

4 pm End

Event Contributors

Obscure Secure is a collaborative project between  artists Claudia Böse, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley. In 2017 they were awarded an ACE research and development grant  for the self initiated Red Studio Enquiry residency which took place earlier this year in the former home / studio of painter Mary Potter (1900-1981) which  they will be discussing during the day.

The Drawing Exchange is an ongoing independent artist project by Kayle Brandon and Lady Lucy, predominantly exploring drawing experiences in social, participatory and public contexts with the aim to enable collective and personal enquiry into experimental process led drawing methods. A Drawing Exchange activity will look at some works by women artists from the collection.


Mandy Bentley is an Art historian and journalist. Mandy recently gave a talk on Mary Potter at the Britten Pears foundation during the Red Studio Enquiry residency and completed a PhD on ‘The Unknown Florine Stettheimer: Fame, Femininity and ‘Salon Space’’ (2015). Mandy will be sharing some of her research.

Emma Roodhouse, Collections & Learning Curator (Art) at Ipswich Museum. Emma has worked with and advised Obscure Secure artists since 2013. Emma will be presenting and talking about the drawings of Blanche Vulliamy (1869-1923) 77 pastel drawings of WW1 searchlights that rarely come out of the museum stores.

Amy Budd is a writer and curator is currently Exhibitions Organiser at Raven Row (London) and has previously worked as Exhibitions and Events Assistant at Chisenhale Gallery (London). She was Steering Committee Chair at OUTPOST Gallery from 2011-2013. Amy will talk on the recent exhibition 56 Artillery Lane which she co curated at Raven Row.

Martha Fleming is an artist who works in  research, teaching and creative capacities; in museums, universities and scientific institutions; and inside disciplines ranging from biomedicine and astrophysics to the history of science and technology, as well as design and the fine arts. Martha is currently Deputy Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum Research Institute. Martha is facilitating a discussion on artists working with collections.






Red Studio Enquiry / Week 3/ Jacqueline Utley


The Red Studio ( Bungalow with attached studio) was built for Mary in 1963. She lived at the Red Studio from 1963 until her death in 1981. It was her most productive time as an artist.

It was an easy space to inhabit,  silence apart from the beautiful birdsong, a studio with a north facing window- i was able to really focus and push forward my thinking in the studio space without the distraction of my normal everyday.

The interior had nothing of Mary’s remaining. I tried to imagine how Mary might have lived and worked in the space.

image1 (1)

Day 4- Extract from log

Colours are absorbing me, the softness of tones and the the light – an exchange takes place between between the  rooms / place / time and my own practice. Find an image of Mary painting as a young women and connect this with my own looking at women working – it begins to make sense- bringing into the future / present and past.



I map my walks

I make collages, visual notes and watercolours.

image1 (2)


Red Studio Enquiry / Week 2 / Claudia Boese

The first thing I did in the Red Studio Enquiry residency was re-reading Julian Potters ‘Mary Potter : A Life of painting’ (2004), his mother. Being taken out of my daily life and focusing on the living and painting on Mary Potter on my own for a whole week gave me a better  understanding and empathy for her. I realised how very hard she always worked since leaving art college and especially the last 25 years of her life.

1 large studio windiow

The light in her studio space is absolutely fabulous in the mornings and late afternoons. Has Mary been part of the planning of this exquisite simple building, so perfect for a painter?

I feel very attracted to the coastal regions and Aldeburgh and Snape are similar to Ruegen in the Baltic Sea and the Westcoast of Ireland were I lived and worked. What a privilege it was being in this rich gentle landscape near the sea and if it was not for Hayley Field, Jacqueline Utley, Lucy Walker and the BrittenPears Foundation and the Arts Council I would not be here.

What a pleasure is was listening to Arundhati Roy speaking at Desert Island Disks on Radio BBC4. I wonder what Mary would have thought about her choice of music, processes of creativity and experience of marriage?

3 Studio workspace

I brought watercolours, pencils, different papers, new and used, scissors, glue, making tape, some canvas and boards and my camera. As Mary frames frequently her paintings by looking out of the window I was intrigued to connect to this compositional device and began exploring her kitchen and living room outlook.  When I used paper with unfinished work made in Ireland and Suffolk it seemed to work best.  I had not worked from observation for a while, measuring and marking down the relationships of things hence working in the garden and drawing the house of Mary Potter in this way was so focusing and inspiring to continue.

2 View out of the kitchen.jpg

Brexit was made official.

A wonderful celebration of Britten’s song with Matthew Sandy and Rebecca Taylor in the library on Friday. Mary was able to come to many similar recitals and what a rich resource it must have been for her painting and life.

Look forward to spending one week together here with Jacqueline Utley and Hayley Field.

Hayley Field / Red Studio Enquiry / Week One

Red Studio Enquiry – residency at the former home and studio of Mary Potter, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Week one, Hayley Field

This week has helped sharpen my sense of Mary Potter and how she worked. During my time at Red Studio I re-read ‘A life in painting’, her son’s book about her life and work, and spent time exploring the Aldeburgh landscape of sea, river and marshland. Having the time to look closely at Mary’s work in the Red House Library really drove home that although her paintings are known for their quiet muted tones and domestic scale and content, her mark making was challenging and confident. Their chalky surfaces require careful looking.

Colour map hf

Mandy Bentley’s talk on Mary Potter at the start of the residency really helped set the tone of appreciating the unique quality of her work. It also brought up issues of legacy and ownership – of how we individually interpret an artist’s work and the meaning we bring to it through our own experience.

Red House Library exhibition hf

I have spent most of my time exploring the location through video, photography, sketching and keeping a daily journal. Through the vast studio window I watched the light constantly change and mapped the alternating colours throughout the week to try and capture them for future reference. I cannot yet imagine the impact that being here may have on my work.

Studio projection hf

I have never worked in residence before and had to deal with my own expectations of myself and what I could achieve in a week. I am really looking forward to being back at Red Studio to work collaboratively with Jacqueline and Claudia and deepen our enquiry together, having let this experience begin to settle in.



Image: Looking at Mary Potter, Archival material, 2017

We are pleased to announce a  research and development project named the Red Studio Enquiry which focuses on the work of painter Mary Potter (1900-1981).

This is our first post in a year ! we have been working away stetting up the enquiry – processing and developing ideas.

We will be spending four weeks in residence at the Red Studio, Mary Potter’s former home and studio situated in the grounds of the Red House, Aldeburgh. We are excited to be the first artists in residence there, giving us the unique opportunity to develop work and ideas from another artist’s working environment. We will conduct practice based research alongside developing discussion / conversation throughout the project with a focus on gender, place and the domestic.

We are delighted to have been awarded Arts Council England funding to support this period of research and development.

We will be tweeting and using Instagram throughout the project and posting here.

Blog post Five, a-n review meeting with Jennifer Higgie

Our final a-n review bursary meeting took place last month with Jennifer Higgie – it was especially beneficial to for us to get feedback from Jennifer as we had not met her before in any context. Jennifer’s generosity has been invaluable for us, below is a brief overview of some of the feedback from the meeting.

Jennifer gave us her feedback on the Obscure Secure wordpress site and her perception of the project from the material she could find online. She highlighted the need for us to be more explicit about the research we had done and the information we had uncovered and suggested pulling it together so that it could become a resource for others to utilise (and possibly add / contribute to in the future).

She questioned us about the nature of our collaboration and its connection with our individual practice. It was interesting to unpick, with her help, the nature of how working together has fed us and our work, and how working together has been a significant experience for us (each in our different ways) and one we intend on continuing with – also the relevance of bringing our own practice into this exploration of other artists work. Another area of focus was to look at why we have shifted our focus from the women artists in the collection in Ipswich to Mary Potter.


Image: Mary Potter, Exhibition invite from 1939

How lucky are we to have been awarded an a-n review bursary to meet with four amazing women to review, reflect and interrogate our project Obscure Secure and discuss our new project. There are some threads and observations that have emerged in all the meetings on how we can improve and move forward with our new project. The meetings spaced at two month intervals have given us time for thorough review and reflection with time to process these very important review meetings. We have a lot of hard work ahead but we are feeling more confident and very excited.

Links to previous posts

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

Post 4
This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.

a-n review meeting with Rebecca Fortnum

a-n Review meeting with Rebecca Fortnum- blog post four

We met with Rebecca Fortnum last month as part of our a-n Review bursary meetings. Our meeting  with Rebecca felt very timely as just prior to the meeting we had begun to develop some doubts about the validity of the new project focussing on Mary Potter’s work and it’s relevance to contemporary painting and issues around gender which we are keen to continue to look at. Rebecca’s generosity, knowledge on artists, projects and resources which she shared with us during the meeting has helped us to proceed with more confidence.

During the discussion we talked about the distinctiveness of Mary Potter’s paintings (her use of materials / the whiteness or lightness in some of her work) and why they interested us. Rebecca suggested we all write independently about it in order to begin to articulate and examine our personal interest in it and start to define specifically what pieces stand out for us. This  contemplation / writing is proving to be a very helpful exercise to see how our individual responses connect and resonate with each other and how we may engage a wider audience in the project.


Image: Mary Potter, Foliage, pencil and watercolour

Our next meeting is in the New Year with Jennifer Higgie, writer, curator and editor of Frieze magazine.

Links to previous posts

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.


Meeting with Martha Fleming , September 2015,  a-n Review blog- post three

Beginning to Surface our Methodology

We spent a Sunday afternoon in September with Martha Fleming. This was the second of our four meetings we have planned with arts professionals as part of our a-n Review bursary. We discussed practice, research, methodology and working with museums and collections.

It was such a wonderful and beneficial afternoon for us – Martha’s knowledge, generosity and experience as an artist and as the director of the collections based research programme at Reading University provided us with invaluable discussions, ideas, information and lots to think about and look at. We discussed with Martha how we may develop our new project which has a focus at this present time on the painter Mary Potter (1900-1981). It also includes a possible collaboration with museums and a residency. Our ideas are still at an early stage of development.

Studio Practice / Parallel / Research

Martha spoke about “artist-driven epistemology” and how this relates to our research and practice, for example, how it shapes the questions we might ask: How is it that we paint now?  As women? She also talked about the “layered temporalities of practice” (the state of existing within or having some relationship with time) that we surfaced in our previous project Obscure Secure. We are of the twentieth century, we carry a connection to the era of the artists we are working with. We carry the thread into 21st century practice. To make present.

(Epistemology – noun Philosophy – the theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.)  

Martha shared with us some practicalities and procedures that we need to be aware of when working with museums and collections. She also highlighted the knowledge and experience we gained during our project (Obscure Secure) working with Christchurch Mansion and the value it has for us in taking our new ideas forward. We went on to discuss the benefits of affiliations with institutions when carrying out research.

Presenting research

The possibilities of presenting research that can be site specific depending on the  circumstances / venue, we discussed ways of infiltrating / adding to existing information; and how the collation of information adds value to collections, connecting them to contemporary artists practice.

The above blog post only just touches the surface of our afternoon spent with Martha. We would like to stress again the value of recording the meetings / discussions –  referring back to the the discussions has proved invaluable for us to process and continue to evaluate and review our developing new project. We are all feeling very excited by the possibilities that lay ahead.

Our next meeting is in November with Rebecca Fortnum artist, writer and academic.

This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.

Links to previous posts

Post 1

Post 2

‘They didn’t know where it was anymore. Basically.’ 

Obscure Secure – Review bursary blog/second post

a-n Re:View bursary meeting Valerie Sinason

Last month we met with psychoanalyst, poet and writer Valerie Sinason to reflect on our project Obscure Secure as part of our a-n Re:view bursary.

It was exactly two years ago (2013) that we met Valerie for the first time, at the beginning of our project. The second time we met her she was in conversation with Frances Spalding as part of our Obscure Secure programme of talks at Christchurch Mansion in November 2014.This means we have met her at key stages of our collaborative project’s development and our individual development as artists (three meetings in total).

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Image: From Helen Kiddall’s archive box, research Ipswich Borough Stores, June 2014

I have felt extremely privileged to involve Valerie in our project. I first discovered her whilst studying art therapy and was deeply moved by her writing in a book of clinical case studies. She has been so generous with us – giving us time and valuable insights through her amazing ability to consider and reflect – her clarity and openness are rich ground for challenging our ideas. Hayley Field, August 2015

In the mid 90’s I used to live in Golders Green and was a student at the Royal Academy Schools. I am German and if I had known that Valerie lived just round the corner, I might have been her client and what we would have talked about I can only imagine. Visiting her 20 years later as part of our Obscure Secure enquiry in July this year was an amazing experience for me. Valerie was very welcoming to the three of us, sharing and developing themes and questions centring on the human condition. Claudia Boese, August 2015

I wasn’t familiar with Valeries work until Claudia and Hayley introduced it to me – and if I am honest I couldn’t quite see how meeting with Valerie at the beginning stages of our project back in 2013 would be of benefit. I was wrong – after our first meeting I understood fully why. Valerie’s lovely warm, welcoming and holistic way of connecting to our very tentative beginnings of ideas / thoughts around our project interwoven with her questions and generous observations were invaluable. It felt fitting to be visiting her two years after that first meeting. Jacqueline Utley, 2015

A brief summary of our a-n Review bursary meeting with Valerie Sinason in July 2015

Our meeting  with Valerie Sinason took place last month, we used it to reflect on what we had achieved with Obscure Secure. We explored the complexities we had experienced  working with a collection and archives. Valerie reflected on our thoughts from a psychoanalytical viewpoint alongside contributing her own creative thinking as a writer and poet.

We were particularly interested as artists in ideas around collections, archives and research and how they are able to resurrect women artists lives and works momentarily rather than demonstrating a kind of ancestral worship. Our conversation regularly touched on concepts such as ‘permission, responsibility, gender, power structures and collaborations’. We reflected with Valerie on how artists from collections may also  play a role as catalysts for our own projections and new paintings/work.

The meeting investigated thinking processes; how our project had developed organically and the learning that had taken place as we proceeded. Valerie highlighted that we have gained knowledge as well as authority and ownership from our project Obscure Secure. There was no formal methodology while researching for Obscure Secure – while we are keen to continue to be open to uncertainty and chance to develop our new project we have gained experience and expect a new methodology and structure to evolve whilst further clarifying our focus during the course of our Re:view bursary meetings and critiques.

Our meeting with Valerie lasted two hours and we recorded this discussion. We are so pleased to have a record of this conversation as it has proved to be a vital resource for now and later.

Our next Re:view critique and meeting is in September with Martha Flemming , artist and Director of University of Reading’s Collections Based Research Programme.

This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.

Obscure Secure – Review bursary 

Our first Review bursary post and a brief Introduction

We Claudia Böse , Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley initiated and collaborated on the project Obscure Secure. We looked at work by 20th century women artists in Ipswich Borough council collection and made new work in response. The project culminated in an exhibition and series of talks from September 2014 to February 2015.

Obscure Secure at CCM

Image: Obscure Secure, Wolsey Gallery, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, September 2014-January 2015

a-n Review bursary

We are delighted to have been awarded one of a-n’s Review bursaries. The bursary will enable us to undertake four professional critique meetings. We will be reflecting on our previous project  Obscure Secure and taking our learning forward into a future collaboration we are planning.The new project involves us looking at archives relating to the painter Mary Potter. The four meetings are planned over an eight month period.

The blog

We will be using this space/blog to share this process.

Our first meeting is in July with Valerie Sinason, who practices as a psychoanalyst, poet and writer. We first met with Valerie at the beginning of our project in July 2013 to discuss artist’s processes. It feels fitting that our first meeting is with Valerie to review our last project and discuss/critique some of the themes we are taking forward into our new project.

Here is a link to a transcription : Valerie Sinason and Frances Spalding in conversation which was part of the Obscure Secure programme of talks (November 2014).