With a background in both farming and art, Catherine Ducker set up the Coaching Barn in Oxfordshire as a space to inspire and educate - from gardening and nutrition, to sewing and painting.
Tell us a little about your work and your background.
I set up The Coaching Barn three years ago as a space to gather people and run courses in the wide sense of the arts, for all ages. It’s a beautiful Tythe barn by the river near Wallingford, where we can host everything from art to ecology courses.
My background is farming and art. I grew up farming and my degree is in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in London. I am quite obsessive so take things to the extreme!
When I was 30, I went back to college to do a masters in Horticulture and combined it with Agriculture to prove to my mother and male local farmers I could handle both the creative world and farming.
I now run the family farm, with my two teenage children, as well as running The Coaching Barn and my own exhibitions. Working on a variety of projects is what really drives me.
What’s coming up at the Barn?
We have so much variety of courses and events coming up. There’s our Maker’s Market coming up in December for local Christmas gifts; and we also run courses such as beginner’s sewing, gut health nutrition and chidrens’ art clubs.
Where do you find inspiration and new ideas?
The Coaching Barn has a rhythm, we run courses day and termly, each session requires inspiration but there is a steadiness to it. Setting up the physical space was challenging as I had to convert a barn which was originally built in 1850, a great privilege and something actually I don’t find too challenging as I love creating spaces.
I’m very hands-on, so I value everything we do with our hands. I love meeting new people and learning about techniques. The barn has taken me on a journey and it’s been great fun but also challenging. I’m never short of inspiration… I have more difficulty seeing things through.
Spring Harvest cooking Beginners Sewing Young art club
Describe your typical working day
I always get up at 7am, I check on the family and the animals. I have 2 dogs, a few chickens and a dear old horse who I’ve had for 20 years. I eat a healthy breakfast as I love everything to do with health. I then do at least two hours admin/ social media. I eat something like a bowl of soup and sourdough. In the afternoons, I usually create something in my studio, check the barn over and see anyone who is in there, do some gardening or tree planting depending on the time of year. I then do a few more hours admin, check in with the family and cook up something healthy.
What has been the biggest highlight and biggest challenge to date?
The biggest highlight is personally doing exhibitions, seeing my trees and hedges grow well which support wildlife, but most of all seeing children and adults being inspired and fulfilled. All of these things are a highlight and a challenge.
Best nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
Being true to yourself is key, I am not looking to run a franchise, I couldn’t. The nature of what I do is intense - but I love it.
Where can we find out more?
You can find out more at my website www.thecoachingbarn.com