Meet our Chair of Trustees

We thought now is as good a time as any to get to know our colleagues a little more, so we had a lovely virtual chat with one of our trustees, Peter.

Peter tells us about how he first came to be involved in organicARTS, and how his abstract painting has developed in recent years.

How did you first become involved with organicARTS?

Peter: Jill (Peters Wife) and I have known Christine (one of the founders of organicARTS) since before organicARTS began. We were signed up as Friends through the early days of the charity, as we really supported what it was about. However, apart from the occasional attendance at a farm event, I was not actively involved until we heard that there was a need for more trustees at the beginning of 2016. Having just retired from volunteering with the Exeter Ethiopia Link charity – for the previous 25 years or so, latterly as a trustee and previously as Chair – I had time, interest and experience to offer. Having also retired from work in 2013, Jill was encouraging me to get out more! I came along a few days to get a feel for the various aspects of the projects and activities at organicARTS and meet the people. I put myself forward to become a Trustee at the June 2016 AGM. 

What role do you play within the organicARTS community?

Peter: As the previous Chair, Jo Cotter, was vacating the post at the 2016 AGM at which I was elected as a Trustee, I was happy to step into that role, having chaired many meetings and organisations in my time. I came in at a time when the finances looked sound, a five-year Lottery application for the garden project was being made, education visits were buoyant, and ceramics and willow workshops were attractive. However a trustees’ meeting every two months did not satisfy me and I soon became involved in working alongside volunteers in the garden and sampling the creative courses. When the Lottery funding came through and since then there have been several staff recruited, meaning application and interview processes to go through. The funding has also enabled several capacity building pieces of work from outside that required admin work. 

When more indoor space for creative work was offered by the farm I became heavily involved in project management and hands-on with the refurbishment of the Grain Barn.

Why do you enjoy being a part of organicARTS?

Peter: I realised early on that organicARTS spanned most of my main interests in life – natural environment, geology and soils, outdoor activity, food, creative arts, organic gardening, support of less-fortunate and vulnerable members of society, keeping things local, keeping things simple… As relationships with staff and volunteers have grown, I really enjoy the community of people and accept the occasional challenge to help keep things running and make new developments possible

Tell us about your artwork, are you ever inspired by the nature we have here at OrganicARTS?

Peter: I have participated in a few short courses in ceramics, including raku firing, with Lucy, which I really enjoyed and produced a few sculptural pieces.

However, my main artwork over the same 4-5 years since becoming involved with organicARTS has been abstract painting, which is what I practice from home and with a group who meet at the Phoenix Art Centre. The paintings are an exploration of colour and form, painted intuitively so not planned or thought out at all in advance. My style varies enormously but colour contrasts and the creation depth effects, tension or compositional ambiguities for the viewer to explore, usually make an appearance. I spend a very large part of my life outdoors in the natural environment – walking, cycling, gardening, bird watching – so although I make no conscious connection between my painting and observation, I believe all abstract art has some roots in past visual experience, both from the artist and for the viewer. 

Peter is an extremely valuable team member to organicARTS, and much loved by everyone. His presence in the organisation spreads wide, from doing some weeding with the community garden volunteers, getting hands on with building work, to chairing our trustee meetings. His passion for the outdoors and art suits us well, and his can do and positive attitude pushes us forward when we need it. Thank you Peter for everything you do!

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