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Louise Ostara

My love of art started in my art lessons at South Borough Girls School in Maidstone.  I had two great art teachers who were very supportive Mrs McCabe and Miss McAvoy. Although my first main inspiration was my best friend Alison Ware who was absolutely awesome at drawing and painting and I believe she was the catalyst that planted the seed on my creative journey. 

Unfortunately, my wish to go to art college was denied by my parents who believed it would be a waste of money as I would most likely get married and have children.  My art teachers tried to persuade them to change their minds but to no avail!  Feeling totally undervalued as my brothers were able to pursue their chosen careers I found myself going from job to job, shop assistant to legal secretary to PA trying to connect with a purpose in life that I found interesting and rewarding for the soul. 

By the time I reached 27 I realised that the only way I was going to find my true calling was to stop blaming my parents and get back on my artistic path myself.  As a mature student and with the support of my then boyfriend, I took my portfolio of drawings and paintings to an interview with Derek Allport for a BTEC Art & Design Course at Rotherham College of Art & Design.  I was so delighted to be accepted on the course, Mr Allport recognising that I had a raw talent.  I found that I enjoyed all subjects but decided to specialise in Fine Art. 

I went on to study a degree in Fine Art at Howard Gardens UWIC under the tutorage of Dave Shepherd and Harvey Hood specialising in Sculpture. Upon leaving university I found a lack of job opportunities for my degree or indeed career advice so I fell back into secretarial work.  I soon gave myself another kick up the posterior as I was pulling away from my artistic journey as I had no direction.  So I went on to study a PGCE in Art & Design and was successful in obtaining a secondary teaching post in Cardiff. It was here that I met my future husband on the PGCE course.  My parents were right in one respect I did finally get married at the age of 34 and have two children.  It was then when my children were both at school and I had breathing space that I began to dabble in ceramics and discovered that clay was the drawing material that I responded to. The process of sculpting allowed me to explore the fundamental language of art through form, shape, texture and colour. 

At the age of 8 our son was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and a double whammy, developed diabetes one, so it was necessary for me to be there for him at home so going back into the teaching profession was proving difficult.  My husband, Andrew Richards, was also an art teacher and previously a self employed potter.  To make ends meet, as there was only one income, we started to do local craft fairs selling his pots and my ceramic hares.  This then became my main focus for my creative journey and income.

So my passion for art led me to run and manage, Quirky Art Ceramics in Ellesmere and Quirky Art Studio Gallery in Llangollen supporting local and professional artists and at the same time developing my own skill base in ceramics. At this point I was self taught in ceramics with some guidance from my husband with potting but limited in sculptural.  I had the knowledge and language of art from by degree course but I had limited experience in the medium of clay  with only the taster course on my BTEC course in Rotherham.  However, my skills that I had accrued over the years as shop assistant, secretary and PA finally came to use in the gallery.

Realising I needed to progress my skills in ceramics I eventually went on a couple of courses with the very wonderful Annie Peaker Ceramics based in Penrith.  I had a few light bulb moments realising that I had been doing everything the wrong way and the hard way so I was very much enlightened and my understanding of clay was greatly improved after the course.

Along my artistic journey I have found that 'hares' became my speciality and I would often be described as the "hare lady" with customers returning to purchase a friend for their existing quirky hare.  

I enjoy sculpting a range of ceramics from chickens to figurative forms.  My love of animals and the connection that I have with them and for them are my main subject matter.  I would like to think that the spirit of the subject matter connects with the viewer.  I describe my work as whimsical but with an element of haunting.

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