Art is in the heart for former office worker Dawn

Dawn Booth-Wilson's art work in mixed media. Picture by Stuart Boulton.

Dawn Booth-Wilson in her studio at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope. Picture by Stuart Boulton.

A FORMER Inland Revenue officer has opened a new studio and gallery after pursuing her dream of becoming an artist.

Dawn Booth-Wilson, gave up her office job to develop a more creative career and, after running her own curtain and blind making business, she undertook an art and design access course at Middlesbrough College and a degree in fine art at Teesside University.


Dawn, of Hamsterley, County Durham, initially focused on large scale, colourful monotype prints – work made by painting onto glass, or metal plates before being printed on an etching press – but the death of her beloved father after a long illness saw her work take a new direction.

“I got my sketch book out and I started to doodle and suddenly these little people came. It wasn’t a deliberate or conscious thing to create them, they just appeared, then I started to develop them into works of art,” said Dawn, originally from South Tyneside.

“The fine art course was a huge learning experience and it makes you look into yourself. The illustrative quality is perhaps a nod to my love of children’s story books and an obsession with reading and drawing which surfaced at an early age. I think what makes them charming is the colour and humour and fun.”

The colourful results now adorn the walls of her new studio and gallery at the Durham Dales Centre, in Stanhope, Weardale, which is run by Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham.

Dawn’s work is made using layer upon layer of paint, collaged pieces and printing techniques. Pieces of vintage children’s books can be found alongside decades old typefaces. Her work is about memories and reflection and her paintings feature vivid colours softened with pastel shades or blurred areas. Some paintings incorporate poignant phrases written in a childlike hand or script such as Those we love most are the hardest to let go and If you look closely, there is beauty all around us.

As well as her artwork, Dawn sells cards, cushions and prints made by UK students, chalk paints from Amble, jewellery and knitted crafts in her retail space and she’s keen to back British designers.

While at the dales centre, Dawn will be looking to take advantage of the free enterprise programme, Durham Creatives, which has supported more than 90 creative start-up businesses in County Durham.

The Durham Creatives workshops will run until October at the Dales Centre and include Business Planning; Health Wellbeing and Enterprise; The Art of Selling; Protecting Your Business Ideas; Finance – Understanding the Essentials; Food, Drink and Enterprise; Selling Overseas Online.

Sarah Slaven, business development director with Business Durham, the economic development company for County Durham, said: “The Durham Creatives programme has proved phenomenally successful at helping creative people take their hobbies and ideas and turn them into flourishing businesses.


“We’re keen to make the Durham Dales Centre a place for enterprise, rather than simply a venue, which is why it’s a great place for people to be inspired by the Durham Creatives workshops.”


Dawn’s sells original artwork and limited edition prints priced from £59. For more information log onto

For more information or to book a workshop log onto

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