To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked our featured maker, Rachel Larkins, some questions about her inspirations and what advice she would give to young artists starting out.

  • What challenges do you think women face in the Arts?

Working in the Arts can be hard work and is not always well paid, so it can often be a question of balancing several roles at once. As a maker, I’ve worked with students from sixteen to eighty and I think at any age, regardless of gender, overcoming issues with self confidence in terms of showing your work to others can be very challenging too.

  • Is there a particular artist or craftsperson who inspired you?

Three women who made a big difference to my early career were artist Jane Wildgoose, who gave me work experience shortly after graduating; Linda Fredericks, the founder of Artsway where I had my first studio, and Kristin Baybars, a toy designer and collector who bought one of the first collectors pieces I made (an upside down Red Riding Hood and the wolf doll). All three were very generous with their time, giving me honest feedback and encouragement.I couldn’t name just one… there are those visual artists and writers whom I admire such as Angela Carter, Marina Warner, Rebecca Horn, Kiki Smith and many inspirational craftspeople I have been fortunate to meet over the years.

  • What advice would you give young women artists who are just starting out?

To be honest my advice is the same regardless of gender (!). Try to find authenticity in what you are doing. What may appear to others as overnight success is often preceded by years of unseen work. It’s important to care deeply about what you do but this doesn’t have to be at the expense of everything else. Promoting yourself can feel uncomfortable by comparison with the joy of making, but it is necessary. I think social media has made this aspect of freelancing much easier in recent years and it does offer great opportunities to connect directly with your audience.

  • You work is inspired by folklore and fairy tales, do you have a favourite female character?

Red Riding Hood is one of those characters I return to again and again- the story itself is so rich in terms of subtext and there are many theories on its origins.

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