Following on…re workshops….and an atelier

What is an ‘atelier‘? This blog follows on from my last blog on workshops, teaching and learning and includes my thoughts on discovering the word ‘atelier’ and its meaning.   The images on this blog are from the recent weekend of teaching. It was a wonderful weekend of creativity and learning with participants from the Tauranga Patchwork and Quilting Guild.

I have also been reading an interesting book called ‘The Art of Work’ by Jeff Goins in which he “recaptures the ancient understanding of vocation as more than just a job, or even a career, but as a passion-fueled calling that makes each day an exciting adventure”. It is a fascinating read and I’ve just finished reading a chapter called “Accidental Apprenticeships” in which he writes about the resurgence of apprenticeship. Although it is not a book about art he cites a fascinating example of an artist in New York called Ellen Frank who is reviving an old practice not used since the Renaissance. Apparently her “studio is called the Illumination Atelier and is a haven for live-in artists(interns as she calls them) who want to work under the guidance of a true master.” I rather like the French word Atelier which means workshop and “during the Middle Ages these were the main areas of education for artists.”

The more I read of Ellen Franks studio and ‘atelier’ practice the more I have become intrigued by this way of working. She began a “foundation which provides support and housing for interns who want to learn illumination.” In her studio “interns are involved in the whole process: from imagining the initial concept of a piece, to the creation of it, to even the important business decisions that have to be made for the foundation. They always get their names added to the work they do.”

Wow, imagine an apprenticeship for an artist,… a textile artist,… an art quilter……I have a Visual Art degree( yes it feels like a long time ago now!) and it was an important milestone for me in my artistic journey but we only had one semester of business. This basically consisted of working through a book that the lecturer had written. How valuable it would have been to have had the opportunity to work as an intern in an ‘atelier’ with a textile artist……


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