Women Leading – Rachel

Meet Artist Rachel Horne – a creative maker based in Doncaster.

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She co-edits Doncopolitan Magazine, works as an art therapist at a local hospice and delivers a number of commissioned projects.

Rachel is extremely passionate about injecting new creative life into Doncaster in all kinds of different ways. After six years of living in London, she returned to the North and quickly began to see opportunities where others saw nothing.

This led to the foundations for Horne & Draper, Doncopolitan and the design studio they now use.


Rachel, what has been the highlight of your life as an artist?
Exhibiting two of my film pieces at Tate Modern as part of ‘Art In Action’ in 2012. At that time the Tate seemed to be recognising new art forms and movements; things like connective aesthetics and social/political art work.
I knew an artist called Tracey Sanderswood who invited me to the Tate. She and I met at an arts space called The Foundry in East London – both Tracey and the venue were known for bringing together a wide mix of artists and activists. Tony Ben did radio from there, Pete Doherty ran a poetry night – until he got really famous, and was replaced by a poet called The Worm Lady whose poems all started with ‘Wiggly Woo Woo Wormy’.
At the Tate there were about 20 artists all screening short films about their work or projects – it was a real honour to exhibit. What added to the experience was the main artist chosen by the Tate to present Art in Action was Suzanne Lacy – Suzanne has been a huge influence on my work.
The other crazy thing was that my tutor from my degree was there – I hadn’t seen him in six years but he remembered me! He had gone on to become head of Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Then I went back to my bar job in #TheDonx.
How does creativity enhance people’s lives?
This is difficult to answer because being creative is something that comes naturally to me. I’m just beginning to realise that not everyone is creative or knows how to be.
I believe creativity can help people and I’m passionate about helping people. We live in a society where we’re conditioned to consume rather than create – I think this makes people feel powerless. I think creativity is the starting point to empowering people, and this can and often does have a knock effect to other parts of their life.
What would you say to someone feeling frustrated and uninspired in a small town where ‘nothing happens’?
I think they should move away and experience other places, even if only to then appreciate that small town – there’s a famous Chinese proverb I love:
“Travel the world and all you’ll discover is the back of your neck.”
For me, moving to London led me to finding my identity as a miners’ strike baby from Doncaster! After London I saw Doncaster very differently and felt excited because it was a blank canvas in comparison to the big smoke.
I wasn’t planning to stay in Donny, but I kept meeting lots of interesting and creative people – who I’d previously snobbishly thought only existed in London. A small town has its advantages – it’s much cheaper, so you can make art while living on a shoestring. There’s no way I could afford the life I lead if I was in London.
I think a lot of people are cottoning on to this now – I think creative people will increasingly move to small towns because it’s the only affordable way to make art. I would have ended up living in a squat if I wanted to lead an artist’s life in London, my mum wasn’t very keen on that idea!
What do you think is the best way to introduce more discipline into one’s life?
Well, this made me chuckle – I’m crap with discipline! However, this year is a big year for me work wise. We’ve set up our publishing company Horne & Draper and taken on a design studio. There’s wages to pay and deadlines to meet so the struggle is real.
I’m having to sort out my typical artist attitude and am trying to channel my inner army general who gets shit done, delivers and is on time – I hope it’s going to work!
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