September 15, 2021 3 min read
One of the best things about working at For The Love of The North is getting to know all of the amazing, independent artists that we work with. I got the chance to chat with Sofia Barton this week - the brilliant illustrator behind our infamous ‘Matchbox’ Collection! If you want to know more about Sofia and her work, keep reading…
Like many passionate artists, Sofia began her work as only a toddler...in the form of drawing on the walls! Drawn and enriched by the Punjabi culture around her and was influenced by the colours and patterns of the East. Whether it was colourful textiles on saris, festivals or the matchbox collection her grandfather kept, she was always fascinated by the differences of styles around her.
As a teen she explored different art mediums by taking a foundation course at Newcastle College. This then led her to move out of Newcastle to Edinburgh in 2009 where she studied a BA Hons in Photography and Film at Napier University. Though, it wasn’t until she returned to Newcastle and had her child in 2017 that she decided to return to painting and drawing. Supported by the Princes Trust, she set up a stall at Tynemouth market (which is actually where she met Lucy and Paul!)
During lockdown, she’s been studying contemporary art at Teeside University and has been mentored by international artist, Lady Kitt. This has led her to gain more interest in social art practice rather than commercial work.
When asked about where her inspiration comes from, she explained that she is heavily influenced by heritage and nature, “I like to learn what’s unique about each place I draw on a matchbox or painting. I am also heavily influenced by Nasty Women U.K.,with whom I had a residency with in 2018. I believe in women’s rights and equal opportunities for everyone.”
As a local creative, she’s described working with indie businesses as a mixture of good and bad, “I was lucky to find out about Love of the North and was really impressed with their genuine interest in local artists. I’d had a bad experience before that with someone who took an image of mine, printed it onto products without asking me and didn’t pay me. With Lucy and Paul it has always been friendly and full of helpful advice. I think it helps having a trusting relationship with businesses who are like friends! It’s also because of them I’m more confident in my art skills after painting their shop window in Whitley Bay and have branched out doing workshops.”
Sofia’s worked on many projects over the years, but when asked about her favourite she described a project called ‘Narivad’, which highlights forgotten figures in history, namely ethnic minority suffragettes. Narivad means ‘feminist’ in Sanskrit and Sofia explained that she was fascinated to find out about all these women who had helped bring about our rights today. Expanding on this, she explained that she’d love to do a similar project for FTLOTN, sort of a ‘forgotten figures of the North East’ such as significant women, ethnic minorities and people who have made an impact on the community (presented as matchboxes of course!)...tell us what you think of that idea!
And finally, in every order we send out, we include a tourist tip, so we asked Sofia what her ultimate tourist tip would be to anyone visiting the North East, here’s what she said “it can be fun getting a map and drawing on your routes to your destination with doodles of what you see on the way. You might even want to draw a treasure map if you have children.”
We hope you’ve loved reading about one of our beloved artists here at For The Love of The North, be sure to check out all of Sofia's work on our site!
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