At a glance my art output seems to be a series of random acts of making, but there is always a progression, and investigations into ideas of self-location. I have always felt somewhat disjointed; wrong place, wrong comprehension, wrong me. I make work as a means of formulating myself and as a way to plug the holes in my identity. My means of making is always ideas led; first the what, then the how.
My arts practice is diverse. I produce prints, collage, books, ceramics, sewn pieces, paintings and films. I see myself as an object maker. Regardless of the material and processes, working with scissors, needles, clay, tin snips, fretsaw or ink, I make things that occupy space. Although I’m always working on self-generated ideas, I also work collaboratively, in response to briefs and call-outs, and undertake commissions.
Ideas & Influences
I am interested in the daily rituals of life, the weight of memory and marking of time, the relationship of the domestic environment with the outside world. I work from a home-based studio. I like to use discarded, or overlooked materials that bring their own stories, which then become interwoven with mine.
There are things I need and want to express, but exactly what I’m trying to say or why is blurry. It feels like a piece of grit that I need to find, pick up, turnover and place alongside my other makings. I’m trying to explore, to expose answers to which there are no direct questions attached.
My current projects include ceramic pieces inspired by Hieronymus Bosch paintings, Fairy Tails, a reinterpretation of Renaissance portraits made from recycled tin cans that are cut and riveted together. I make collage works using patterned paper from inside business envelopes. These feature traditional art subjects, including still lives and the human figure from life. I also work across a number of print mediums; screen, stone lithography, letter-press and lino, experimenting and playing with imagery and words. This print work runs alongside my other work.
I am interested in conceiving work in response to location, and am equally happy to work on large pieces as on an intimate scale.
For a project called A Cake For Every Day, I worked with a small independent bakery in Stamford, Lincolnshire. A different cake was made daily and placed center stage in the shop window to be seen, bought and consumed. The project has a website www.acakeforeveryday.com. The idea was inspired by a 1919’s cake recipe book, The Everyday Cake Book.
In 2023 I ventured into curating for the first time, bringing together eleven artists, including myself, who made new work in response to a specific building and space; its history, location and architecture. This is something I intend to do more of.
During 2020 I hosted monthly meetings of artists and neighbours to eat, discuss, and make. These events were themed around seasonal folklore and traditions. The making varied from collaborative sewing to poem writing, walks led by pre-given instruction, drawing in nature and pumpkin carving. 2020 was a difficult year in which to come together, but also proved the social value of these interactions which continue to be a regular part of my art practice.
From January 2003 till December 2013 I kept Scrap Diaries. Each day I selected a memento from the day’s activities. It was dated and fixed into a handmade book made from folded DL envelopes. Bus or exhibition tickets or shopping receipts take on a new significance when archived in this way. As individual objects they are mundane, but placed within a series of books they take on a more serious intent, a desire to reflect and recall the passing of time, different phases of a life: children growing, the death of a parent. This ‘minutiae of memory’ parallels the written diary but gives the viewer more scope for personal reflection. Unfortunately my date stamp stopped at 2013; so I changed my approach for 2014. Instead of sticking the mementos into a book, I soaked a month’s worth at a time, and then compressed them into bricks. The following year I collected the scraps together and simply compiled them into monthly Scrappacks. I continue to catalogue my life in scraps of paper and have now returned to the monthly scrapbook form.
Through friendships with Catalan architects I have been involved in several collaborative works. My biggest project to date was working with Enric Miralles EMBT on The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. I was personally responsible for the design of The Cannongate Wall, a 30metre wall leading to the Parliamentarians entrance. The wall is a montage of Scottish stone, text pieces and drawn line on cast concrete. I also work with Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores for whom, in 2013 I created an edible map of Copenhagen and a window installation as part of an exhibition on public housing in Copenhagen, Demark. Also with Prats e Flores I hand printed and constructed a small edition of paper theatres to celebrate the completion of their building for the Sala Beckett Theatre and Drama School in Barcelona, Spain. This piece was on shown at Venice’s 2018 Architectural Biennale and returned to the Biennale as part of a Flores e Prats Studio overview in 2023.
In 2019 I was commissioned by German furniture maker, Axel Bruchhäuser, to make a children’s book about a man, his cat and his house in the woods. I wrote, designed and screen-printed an edition of 23 books; 12 in English, 11 in German. Karlchen’s Haushas subsequently been commercially published by Walther König.
Despite dyslexia writing has become a part of my art practice. The dictionary definition of essay is a short tentative attempt or experiment. For me weaving together words is similar to threading different sculptural materials together. Words and crafts are my stratagems of negotiating a baffling world. Ways to combat self-doubt and defend myself against disobedient words and understandings.