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WebinArt Emerge Member Focus - June 2020

In the first of our Emerge member focus blog posts for the 2020/21 WebinArt programme, we are proud to introduce three up-and-coming creatives - Navneet Virk, Anna Hughes and Amber Jesson.

WebinArt is Creative Leicestershire's year-long professional development programme for creative businesses. Our Emerge members are early in their career and benefit from one-to-one tailored business mentoring sessions alongside a whole host of live online events and resources.

Click here to find out more about the WebinArt Programme. WebinArt 2020/21 is generously + kindly subsidised by our funding partners - Leicestershire County Council, Arts Council England, Derbyshire County Council, Hinckley + Bosworth Borough Council, North West Leicestershire District Council, Blaby District Council + Rutland County Council. 


Navneet Virk | Seasonless

Tell us a little about your creative business and how you got into it.

Seasonless is a project that is pushing the innovation of up-cycling, taking items of waste fast fashion that are of excess and seeing how far we can go with transforming these items into garments with more value. Garments that you don’t want to throw away. My personal aesthetic is from research into excess in human nature. Looking into plastic surgery and seeing how we completely transform ourselves, I apply the same principles to clothing.  Although I was aware and doing research on the environmental and ethical impact of the industry since 5 years ago, it wasn’t until my final year of university that I decided to make the change in my own work. During my final year I went to the fashion in nature conference at the V and A museum, and Amy Powney said that the way to move forward is designing backwards starting with the material. I asked the question ‘how as fashion students are we going to do this when we have been trained to do the exact opposite?’ which she replied that no one will teach you, you just have to do it. This flipped a switch in my head and I decided to start designing backwards.

How does your practice and business fit in with other life responsibilities?

Well I just started working on it from the new year fully, coming away from graduation and an internship. So at the minute I am able to work on it full time, so it fits in really nicely.

What has been your main challenge and biggest success up to this point?

Well I think it’s just the beginning and I think the biggest achievement so far is the actual transformation of these pieces. Everything happened through experimentation and it was really amazing to see the end result turn out so beautifully. The main challenge would have to be sourcing materials to work with. Because you’re using second hand/ deadstock sometimes it can be hard to find what you need.

What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term?

Short term, I would like to create more creative/concept driven work and to define myself as an artist/designer. Long term, I would like to build a sustainable business selling up-cycled clothing, and also working in education within this area of design. I think education plays a really important part in new innovations.

How is the WebinArt Programme is benefitting your business journey so far?

So far it’s really great, I feel that me and my mentor are really well matched and it’s really great to have that support. I am also excited to meet everyone in the programme too later in the year, hopefully work on some collaborative projects. 

What has inspired you recently? 

Paris is burning documentary 

The Art of Creative thinking by Rod Judkins

My mentor meeting

You can see more of Navneet's work here -


Anna Hughes | Anya's Studio

Tell us a little about your creative business and how you got into it.

I'm a Rutland based artist specialising in bright coloured paintings. I use a range of mediums and canvases and have painted everything from murals and pet portraits, through jackets and shoes to people and even cakes! These days I am beginning to focus more on human portraiture but still using bright colours.

I come from a very creative family and have always been arty but I started painting professionally after the birth of my second child when the hours needed to continue private music teaching just didn't fit in with family life anymore. I love that I can fit my work around family commitments and I'm also so happy with how my business is growing and developing.

How does your practice and business fit in with other life responsibilities?

As above, all my work has to fit around family life so, when the children are at school I have 5 days a week to work but school holidays do make things tricky. Working for myself from home is so flexible that I can catch up on work in the evenings or at weekends and can also choose how much work to take on depending on the other commitments I have at that time.

What has been your main challenge and biggest success up to this point?

I absolutely love challenging myself in my work and will usually say yes to most things and work out how to do them afterwards! This lead me to painting a lot of pet portraits when I agreed to paint seven cats in one painting, having never painted a cat before in my life! I also challenged myself to paint human figures and faces on two large wall murals I was commissioned to do in local cafes. Until that point I had avoided painting humans as I was nervous about getting them right but they worked out so well and have gone down a storm, leading me to really move my practice more towards portraiture in recent months.

I think challenging myself is always the best way to develop myself as an artist and to surprise myself with what I'm actually capable of.

What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term?

So much of my work is on a commission basis, which is wonderful, but I would really love to take some time to work on a body of work so that I could have a solo exhibition at some point. I've also had a lot of requests for workshops and, coming from a teaching background, that is definitely something I'd like to offer going forwards, once we're allowed to meet in groups once again.

Long term I want to make sure my work stays flexible enough to fit around my family but also to build up my clientele and maybe exhibit further afield.

How is the WebinArt Programme is benefitting your business journey so far?

I'm really excited to have a mentor to help guide me, especially with the business side of things which I'm definitely not natural at. It's been lovely to start to chat with some of the other members and I'm hoping this leads to some great local connections and potentially some collaborations in the future.

What has inspired you recently?

I have just read Reni Eddo-Lodge's book "Why I'm not longer talking to White People About Race" and also listened to her podcast. Both were very inspiring, leading me to paint a portrait of her, which actually took my portraiture in a whole new direction which I love and will be developing further.

I'm also currently listening to "Good Ancestor Podcast" by Layla Saad which really made me think about the people who have influenced my life from the familial to the societal. It encouraged me look back over my life to points of inspiration and growth and how these have factored into the work I do.

Lastly, the #portraitsfornhsheroes initiative set up by the artist Tom Croft was very instrumental in making me really focus on portrait painting, putting aside my fear and just getting on with it. I've produced two paintings as part of this series (one of a midwife and one of a paramedic) and it had helped me own my skills and realise that portraiture is definitely something I can offer going forwards.

You can see more of Anna's work here -


Amber Jesson

Tell us a little about your creative business and how you got into it.

I am a West Midlands based artist, currently using photography to experiment with shape and colour. Working with 35mm film, I explore the physical processes of how film can be manipulated using light, through designing and making my own pinhole cameras; a simple representation of a camera which disregards the need for mechanics or a lens.

I recently graduated from De Montfort University in 2020 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and I’ve been involved in numerous events across Leicester city including the running of the DMU Fine Art Society as well as curating and exhibiting at the ‘Elemental Encounters: State of Art 3’ exhibition at LCB Depot, Leicester.

How does your practice fit in with other life responsibilities?

My pinhole photography has become a way for me to engage the every-day occurrences in my life. I like to try and carry a camera with me everywhere I go, even one of my little matchbox pinhole cameras - as you never know when inspiration might hit!

So far I’ve been lucky enough to have a studio space at university to develop my practice, with incredible facilities to support my involvement with analogue photography. However now that I’ve graduated, I’m in the process of creating a small studio space back home so I can continue with my body of work whilst keeping up with a job and planning for my future.

What has been your main challenge and biggest success up until this point?

My main challenge has been transitioning between a student to a graduate. Unfortunately graduating during COVID-19 hasn’t made the transition easy so I’ve found it difficult to begin my artistic career during such tough times. What I’m finding most difficult is just getting started!

My biggest success has been curating and exhibiting at the 2019 Exhibition: ‘Elemental Encounters: State of Art 3‘ at the LCB Depot in Leicester. Being able to create a collective exhibition of numerous artists from DMU was an incredible opportunity that introduced me to the exciting world of curatorship. As an emerging artist it also gave me the chance to see my work in a professional gallery space and receive feedback from both artists and the public.

What do you have planned for your business in the short and long term?

My current short term goals is to finish setting up my website and begin applying for open call exhibitions across the midlands. I want to be in a good position where I’ve gained experienced being part of solo and group shows. I would also like to begin selling my work, creating value for myself and my art.

My long term goal is to be recognised as both a practicing artist in the midlands and as an art facilitator, becoming involved in various curatorship opportunities and projects within the arts. At this point I would also like to have been involved in various artist residency’s.

How is the WebinArt programme benefitting your business journey so far?

Everyone has to start from somewhere right? And already within the first month of being apart of the WebinArt programme, I’ve been inspired by the other artists/makers involved. At some point, they were also in my current position and it’s been a pleasure to learn about the journeys that they have taken to get to where they are now.

Being apart of the emerge project, I have been given matched with a mentor from Haarlem Art Space. Already we have had great conversations and has provided me with some interesting reading material and and good points to consider about the next step of my work.

What has inspired you recently? 

The essay ‘In Plato’s Cave’ written by Susan Sontag for her book On Photography (1970).

Photography Brendan Barry who very recently transformed his garden shed into a giant pinhole camera!

And I have just started reading the book ‘Good Vibes, Good Life’ by Vex King, which I look forward to getting into more!

You can see more of Amber's work here -

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