Landmarks by Ingrid Karlsson-Kemp

Honeysuckle_rsmed_A4 300 dpiScandinavians are renowned storytellers and the roots of our World Storytelling Day even lay in Ingrid Karlsson-Kemp’s native Sweden.

It is no wonder then that the artist whose home is now in Upper Dovedale is a natural storyteller and someone who is fascinated by the magic, mystery and romance of our landscape.

Each piece of Ingrid’s mixed media work has a strong narrative, that she is happy to share in her warm and engaging style which makes you want to curl up on the sofa beside her and listen for hours.

“My work is based on my own personal memories and experiences,” she said.

“I look for inspiration when I am out walking and am always moved by the changing seasons and our magical scenery, but what really captures my attention are those places which have an air of mystery. I like landmarks which have legends and legacies.”

“Such as?” I ask – and this is just the cue Ingrid needs to begin regaling me with the tales behind some of her current work being exhibited at Buxton Museum’s Art Gallery under the title of Landmarks.

Lud’s Church is a deep chasm in the Roaches where, legend says, Robin Hood and Bonnie Prince Charlie have hidden. There is also a tale that a huntsman pursuing a deer fell to his death there and his ghost, known as the Green Man, still roams the woods. 

Near Hartington the artist’s imagination was captured by the beautifully quirky Fishing Temple which once belonged to Charles Cotton one half of Derbyshire’s famous angling duo (the other is Izaac Walton).

And while walking in the Goyt Valley Ingrid says she couldn’t resist visiting the Grimshawe family’s shrine to their beloved Spanish governess in the grounds of the now ruined Errwood Hall.

 “It is a building with such a sad story. It just has to be told and I knew I had to include it in my work,” she said.

All Ingrid’s work shares a common theme of texture and rich colours and she mixes mono-printing with collage and stitching. She also likes to use recycled materials and there are often snippets from books or pieces of fabric interwoven and stitched into the work.

“As long as I can remember I have been doing some sort of art whether it was photography, painting in oils, watercolours or acrylics, sewing and stitching and even graphic design.

“Unfortunately my generation was expected to become something and being creative was not encouraged. I turned to social work after studying for my degree but once your vocation has picked you you’re not going to put it away in a box and put the lid on it.” 

It was about 20 years ago while living in Manchester that she finally let her true self break out as she started working in mixed media at a Saturday workshop she had seen advertised in her local post office.

“I was feeling for the first time that I was working freely and having fun. Those classes opened a door for me. It has been a long journey but I got there,” she said.

A change in life circumstances saw her move to Derbyshire with her new partner John in 2003 and since arriving here she has joined the Peak District Artisans and become one of the resident artists in the Gallery in the Gardens in Buxton.

She also runs regular workshops from her Earl Sterndale home that has magnificent views of Chrome and Packhouse Hill.

The circumstances of how the couple came to be in such a perfect spot is yet another terrific story which Ingrid tells with much glee.

“I don’t know whether you believe in serendipity but this was meant to be. We had been searching for our dream house up and down the Pennines.

“But we just couldn’t find the right place and I was down in the dumps and wanted a rest. We stopped in Bakewell and went to the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop for a meal. I don’t know how it happened but John was chatting to the manageress as he was paying the bill and she found out we were looking for a house.

“She didn’t seem to mind about the people queuing behind us and she insisted that she phoned her friend who had a house for sale and so after a quick conversation we agreed to go and see it.

“We felt a bit silly really and we were sure that it wouldn’t be any good as she said it had been on the market for ages.

“As we arrived in Earl Sterndale we were open-mouthed at the view – we just couldn’t believe that such a magical place existed.”

The couple bought the house on the spot and their little piece of luck means that Derbyshire has been gifted Ingrid and her work.

To see more of her work go to her exhibition is on at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery until May 5.