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15 maart 2021 | Nieuws

The Piket Art Prizes in times of corona (47): Debbie Young

Theatre makers, actors, visual artists, and dancers are much affected by government measures to keep the corona virus under control. What is the impact of these measures on the young (former) nominees and winners of the Piket Art Prizes? Part 47: Debbie Young, 2016 winner of the Piket Art Prize in the Painting category.

A new studio

Debbie has just moved to a new studio and recently invested in a larger high-firing kiln. “It’s a big step in the right direction in order for my ceramics studio to expand”, she explains. “My plan is to develop Studio Mama into a more luxury brand and focus more on high-quality ceramics courses and the introduction of artist residency programmes. The new kiln will improve my kiln hire service substantially. I’m also hoping to hire a couple of people in the future, if finances allow it.”

Taking a step back

When lockdown began, Debbie was preparing her work for Glasgow International Festival 2020, as well as running Studio Mama. “I never actually took any time off as I was in the lucky position to be the only person in the studio building. I spent some time trying to restructure the business in order to remain open and continue to have an income.” The video tutorials she offered did not really take off, but the no-contact drop-off/collection service for kiln hire was very successful. “It was due to people having new-found time and wishing to endeavour in creative pursuits”, Debbie says. “Taking a step back and having to re-evaluate everything really made me realise the direction I wanted to go in. Due to Glasgow International Festival being postponed until June 2021, I had time to reflect. The whole situation in general has highlighted how incredibly lucky I am to be able to do what I love.”

The Saturn Youth Group

In June 2020 Debbie participated in and co-organised a SID YOUNG exhibition. SID YOUNG is the name of an artist initiative Debbie shares with fellow-artist Katerina Sidorova. For the 2020 event they collaborated with the interdisciplinary artist Saulė Noreikaitė. The show took place in Vilnius and was titled Saturn Youth Group. Because of Covid-19 measures, Debbie was unable to travel and sent a video work. Fortunately most of the other artists were able to attend and the exhibition could go ahead because Lithuania at the time had very little Covid cases. The exhibition presented a fictional Lithuanian radical anarchist group, active between 1910-1920, making plans for inhabiting Saturn and establishing a Utopian commune on the planet. The project was funded by Lithuanian Council for Culture, Stroom Den Haag, and Vilnius City Municipality. “We also received funding to create a permanent piece to commemorate our imaginary youth group. For this we decided on a commemorative plaque. It can be found in Kaunas at Ąžuolynas – The Oak Park.”

        The Saturn Youth Group commemorative plaque. Photo Debbie Young

Refocus myself

“So I spent my time during lockdown continuing to work on my practise, researching, and restructuring my business”, Debbie says. She recently started a course at The New Art School, a UK-based international on-line school for contemporary art. “Harminder Judge and Monster Chetwynd are my mentors. This has been great to refocus myself and gain critical feedback again. It’s on Zoom and to be honest I feel I’m still getting the same amount of information and it cuts out unnecessary travelling.” As for the future, Debbie feels that socialising, travelling and public events will no longer be taken for granted. “In the hangover period of Covid I can imagine more exhibitions being appointments and openings could be more regulated. Regarding my own future, I would like to continue making art and exhibiting as well as making a comfortable living from Studio Mama. I’ll hopefully also manage to have a life in between as I’m not getting any (Debbie) younger!”

Photo: Hessel Waalewijn
Text: Anna Beerens