Lancashire Sculptor Wyn Abbot finds inspiration in Hornby
PUBLISHED: 22:38 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:48 20 February 2013
Hornby is an inspirational place to live as one local woman now carving out a living in the art world has discovered. Amanda Griffiths reports
SCULPTOR Wyn Abbot isn't frightened of heights - she lives in a castle tower and she met her husband on top of a mountain
It's not a fairytale you'll hear everyday and it gives hope to any would-be Rapunzels out there looking for a knight in shining armour. These stunning surroundings and spectacular landscapes inspire Wyn's work - it's certainly no coincidence that her career as a sculptor took when she moved to picturesque Hornby from Morecambe.
Wyn and husband Colin Carruthers moved into a converted tower at Hornby Castle five and a half years ago. At the time Wyn was still working for the NHS, as a senior manager dealing with dementia awareness and patients with mental health issues. Sculpture was just a hobby.
But thanks to the support of Colin and the Lune Valley countryside, which has also inspired poet William Wordsworth and painter JMW Turner, that hobby soon grew into an obsession which, 18 months ago saw Wyn take a leap of faith, leaving the NHS to concentrate on her sculpture full-time.
'I never dreamed I could make a living from it, or could be living this kind of lifestyle,' says Wyn as we look across the rolling countryside you can see from her Tower cottage.
Wyn often starts the day with an invigorating walk down by the river or through the woodland.
'Sometimes as I walk down the drive to the studio I'll see deer leaping around the grounds,' says Wyn. It's the sort of commute to work a lot of people would be extremely envious of.
As well as creating a number of sculptural works for individual clients, Wyn also undertakes a lot of commissioned work for Lancashire and Cumbria museum services as well as for medieval re-enactment groups. A lot of these pieces have a lot of historical and cultural links as well as a great deal of myth behind them and often take a lot of research, which Wyn enjoys:
'My work tells a story,' she says. 'With the stuff I do for the museum services there's a lot of research involved and they want a specific piece. However, when I'm doing something for myself I just sit down with the clay and see what evolves.
'I love working with clay because it's so flexible. If you make a mistake you can re-shape it and start again, there's very little waste. Living in a place like this you can't help but be inspired, nature often features in my work so the other thing I like about clay is how it's all around us, from things like the cup you drink your tea from in the morning to the sink you wash in.
'I've always been creative, but I'm not sure things would have worked out in quite the same way if it hadn't been for the move to Hornby.
'To be able to do this in this part of the county is incredible. It's a great place to live, very quiet with a very nice atmosphere. There's not many shops, but that's sort of what attracted us to the village in the first place.
'It's a beautiful part of the county. I wanted to be somewhere quiet and rural. We love walking and being in the mountains and from here you can be in the middle of nowhere very quickly and walk for miles without seeing anyone which is what appealed to me. The fact that I met Colin on top of Inglebrough, which we can now see from our window just makes it more meaningful.
'Hornby is a typical country village and, personally I wouldn't want to see a lot more shops, that would change the feel of the village too much. Of course, it needs what it's got - you can get everything you need here.
'The thing I find interesting is that no matter how long people have lived here, from just a few months to generation after generation, they are made to feel part of the village, part of the community, at least that's how it felt to me when we moved here,' she says.
Despite the obvious inspirational advantages of living in a place like Hornby Wyn is set to move her studio to the new Greenlands Farm Village, a new visitor attraction set to open just outside Carnforth at the end of March. As well as a host of activities for a good day out for all the family the village will be teaching children about subjects like renewable energy and where there food comes from.
Wyn is excited about the prospect, the grounds of Hornby Castle are private so interested people can't just walk in and watch her work, or have a go at working with clay, as they will be able to do at Greenlands. Having been welcomed so warmly into Hornby however, Wyn who of course will remain in her turreted home, is keen to continue running workshops for interested groups in the village she feels such loyalty towards.
She still plans on taking her daily walk in the grounds to set those creative juices flowing and hopes the move will be beneficial in every way. 'It's tough living and working in the same place, there's a danger of burn-out because you're on top of work all the time. I think the move will be good. It'll separate me (as much as you can separate creative types) from work and give me a chance to re-charge the batteries to keep inspiration ever-ready.