Workbox Introduction: Anya Keeley

'Henry Puffin'
Ah, there you are! 
Come along and we'll show you the way to this week's Workbox Introduction. It's just down this path, past the ferns and the greengauge tree and before us you'll see a door in the shade of a rambling hawthorn. Turn the rusty key and there you have the workshop and Odditorium of artist Anya Keeley. Come in...

Anya, who was one of this year's finalists in the Craft & Design Selected Awards, describes herself as a designer maker of caged creatures, curios and whimsies. Imagined flummeries a Victorian explorer might encounter on his travels to far off shores which he would bring home to display in glazed mahogany cabinets.

Assembled fairy

A compulsive collector from an early age, Anya is drawn to ephemera which shows the patina of age; buttons, driftwood, darning mushrooms, vintage kitchenalia & old sheet music for example, all of which gets squirreled into jars and suitcases until she is ready to make use of it in a piece of work.
 "Quite often I will have several pieces at different stages of production on the go, flitting back and forth until the right object finishes the piece."

Anya's inspiration comes from a curiosity about the natural world and her love of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Birds, hares and mice are recurring themes in her work.  It therefore seems fitting that Anya is visited regularly at her workshop by a squirrel, a robin and a hedgehog who all make the journey down the path and past the greengauge tree to see her.  
Although Anya uses many materials and processes in her practice, wire is a common feature (brass and iron mostly). Her creatures are formed from a metal structure which is then layered in a papier mache skin. Soldering, drilling & hammering hold no fear for this maker! 
Without further ado, welcome to the place where curiosity takes form...

Anya's 'clean' workbench
 "This is my clean(ish) workspace that I use for putting finishing touches to my work. On the shelf are a group of vintage Oxo tins in which I keep phrases and words cut out from old books, each tin has a theme to make finding what I'm looking for easier! I also have boxes with individual letters in (& no I haven't made any blackmail type letters yet)
Underneath are a few of the jars and sugarshakers of buttons that I use most often and also my portable torch, which I use for soldering wire. There's also my 2 most used notebooks, the red one is my current 'things to make, buy and do' book and the other is my book of work made (an inventory with dates, sizes, prices, where & when sold)
From the shelf I hang an assortment of pliers, these are the tools of my trade, my favourite are the red handled ones."

Slim drawer cabinet

Above: "This is just some of the storage in my shed, I love old suitcases, these ones hold all my bits of vintage ephemera and sheet music. The map covered drawers hold printing stuff (print blocks, ink etc) which I use to print my own business cards."
Murgatroyd pointed out that Anya has even more old suitcases than we do! Look at all of those sugar tongs hanging there like little arms! 
Right: "My partner John (aka the Badger) gave me this little slim drawer cabinet. It has lots of little compartments which I use to keep dead insects, shells, bone and other odds and ends in."

Research books

Left: "I started making research books at college. I have never been a big fan of sketching, instead I collect cuttings from magazines etc of pictures that inspire me which I then collage into books. The ones here are A4 size and more or less full. Last year I decided to number them in chronological order so that I can find what I'm looking for. I have just started book no.39."

Above : "This is my small garden which I look out onto. It's great watching the variety of birds that come to my teacup feeders and also the cheeky little squirrel which visits regularly. There is also Mrs Hog who started visiting earlier this year. She normally pops by after dark for a few mealworms but one day came for a trundle when the weather was good enough to have the door open! We now have an arch in the bottom of our gate so that Mrs Hog doesn't have to squeeze under!"

Anya currently has a solo exhibition at Prema Gallery in Gloucestershire (where we took the following photo's last weekend), which runs until 21st October 2012. 
In the pipeline are a range of 'bell jar' decorations which will be sold at The Museum of London to coincide with 'Doctors, Dissection & Resurrection Men' which opens later this month, and in November she will take part in the 'Tales of the Unexpected' exhibition at Unit12 in Staffordshire, 29th November - 23rd February 2013.
If you'd like to read more about Anya's work and keep up to date with her creative news please go to the following websites:

We'd like to thank Anya for taking part in this week's Workbox Introduction and for allowing us a fascinating peek inside the Odditorium.

With the exception of the Prema Gallery pictures, all photographs are the property of Anya Keeley.
Prema Gallery exhibition runs until 21st October 2012