Childhood was marked by many challenges and difficult circumstances within the family even pre-dating my birth. We lived in the north, midlands and south of England eventually settling in London. There were many changes at crucial times in my life which I responded to by becoming quite resilient and independent but feeling often isolated and an outsider.
The early identification of a talent for ballet meant my later childhood years were structured around this discipline. But I didn’t grow tall enough and lost my scholarship – a great blow.
My father’s family had always been involved in the fashion business and his 5 sisters’ skilled craftswomen. When I visited I was given some skill to learn and picked up many of my basic techniques in this way. Building on these over the years I was always making.
Retreating to books and a lifelong love of libraries I knew of a world beyond my own limited experiences. However having had an indifferent schooling and not much family interest in a “girls” education left school at 16 to become a very incompetent shorthand typist. In later years I realised I was dyslexic and bless the day spellcheck was invented!
With little direction or ambition I married at 18, left with a son at 20, married again at 24. The second marriage took me to Tanzania for 3 years where my 2 daughters were born. This was the first real experience away from my own culture. I blossomed in this new environment.
On returning to England I enrolled on various courses both academic and art related. But as a mature student with 3 children found the limitations of the courses and outlook did not sit comfortably with my creative needs. However having created many art projects at the International school in Tanzania I now took this experience into my local schools and community. We completed many large pieces and I taught new skills to teachers, pupils and members of the community.
A portfolio career is perhaps a shorthand way of saying I had a lot of jobs but never anything that developed into a satisfying working life. Creatively I have been working all my life and now in my retirement have the time and space to develop my artwork.
I am in the process of transitioning from purely textile and stitch work towards collage and paint.
1. I collect images some of which I have had around for over 30 years. These include black and white photographs I have taken of my children when very young and more recently children caught up in war particularly Syria. There can be a long time – sometimes many years before I hone in on an image.
2. I spend a lot of time looking at images and shifting them around, resizing, cutting out using both positive and negative shapes that I find. Also using Photoshop to adapt images. Often I blow up images to a large a size.
3. I also use my own writing which I blow up and photocopy and phrases that catch my interest in some way from poets, writers and artists.
4. Recently I have created a lucky dip of words and phrases which have evolved from looking at pieces of my work and their themes. I may then randomly pick up 5 of these cut up words or phrases and play with the ideas and images which are evoked.
5. The next step is to take pre prepared canvases and selecting a few or only one image which I have been working on and stick them on. Also I cut up and often tear pieces of paper – particularly brown heavy duty wrapping paper – sometimes with store names (lettering) – onto the canvas. Additionally I might attach small pieces of cloth I have created in the past.
6. I tend to work quickly on this early stage and often work in series. After this I often pause and can leave the canvases for long periods of time.
7. Now I will start painting. Painting is new for me and I am getting used to the physicality of the paint and mark making. The choice of colour comes to me spontaneously and I do not have any fixed idea of how an image might progress.
8. Some painting usually leads to another period when I will leave the canvas
9. Returning to canvases I often then strip away sections which have been stuck on previously. At the moment I foresee this being an ongoing process of sticking/painting/striping etc. etc. creating layers of imagery – shape – colour and texture.
10. I still think that there may be some stitching I want to involve in the process along the way or at the end.
1. My passion is the figure and more particularly images of children. Everything from my own children to children in war situations.
2. Some of my content is about abandonment, damage and the discarded
3. More recently I have used a lot of images which relate to jumping and falling. I came up with the phrase “The divide between danger and ecstasy”.
4. There seems to be a tension between control and chaos, between bounded and freedom
5. I spent a lot of last year researching and reading about the Oulipo movement in France. This is a literary/philosophical school of thinking.
What interested me about this movement are the possibilities of producing work with a combination of rules and chaos. This movement has used the term “pataphysics – the science of imaginary solutions and laws governing exceptions”.
6. Design has always been a strong point for me – finding it easy and instinctive – so now when I am working I try to think about what would be the logical thing to paint/do and try to do something different. My feeling that it is easy to create pleasing work and very hard to create something with real content.
7. I continue to have strong feelings for texture and to a lesser extent colour
8. Mark making of any kind fascinates me.
9. I seem to struggle with the combination of realistic and abstract forms. Both interest me equally.
10. I have a long term interest in pre-historic images particularly the goddess. Also art from long lost peoples i.e. The Etruscans
11. My interest is in ideas and images that are thought provoking and challenging.
A recent random pick of my words phrases produced:-
Eccentric, Individual, Out of Control, Random, Discarded
Random acts of kindness
Discarded along the way
By an out of control individual
Whose eccentric space is limited