Aged 5, Mum gave me my first 10p to spend at a jumble sale. Over 40 years later the pin cushion purchased is much used and well loved.
I was a curious child, watchful and inventive, discovering patterns in lurid 1970's wallpaper, mentally calculating colour-way and repeat to find order and make sense of the world. This curiosity provided an unconscious training in how to draw accurately.
My greatest delight at Christmas was receiving a sketchpad and new pack of felt tips. The black was always the first to run out and become a frustrating, scratchy imitation of its former self. Drawing, sewing, knitting and making were activities that could absorb me for hours. An early memory is of standing in front of our long wardrobe mirror and using my body as mannequin to fashion a wrap-a-round skirt with button fastening. Frayed edges, large stitches, working with intent and confidence in what I was creating, little me understood fabric.
Another early memory is of glancing at a classmates work and being shocked at her drawing of a hand, a scrawled circle with lines for fingers. This confused me as that wasn't how I represented what I saw in the world. Writing was an afterthought as it didn't come naturally, so I'd draw and colour to express my thoughts and feelings. My relationship to writing is transformed today. With time and reflection I can show my true colours, something I was unable to do within the school system. Discovering my dyslexia at 31 explained the difficulties experienced at school, where (apart from Art and Design) I was placed in low ability classes. My self esteem was low and without Art I'm unsure who I would have become.
After school a Diploma led to a Degree, and years later a Masters at Goldsmiths, University of London. My younger self never imagined she would teach, but here I am, fortunate in having worked alongside toddlers, school pupils, young people, adults and seniors in my work as a creative practitioner in galleries, schools, community centres and colleges.
My artwork is ignited and haunted by memories of a chaotic and dysfunctional childhood in an Essex council estate. The green woods opposite our house, my home. Somehow, these woods entered my soul and made landscape a place of safety and connection to myself, for myself. Without Epping Forest I'm unsure who I would have become.
Louise Bourgeois writes of complex emotional process ending in reconciliation in her autobiographical sculpture, I Do, I Undo, I Redo. Louise's writing has deep resonance for me and transformed in my head to I Undo, I Redo, I Forgive, I Undo: my childhood experience, I Redo: remake, alter, make good, I Forgive: a (possibly) lifelong striving towards understanding and forgiveness. My art, walking and work as a creative practitioner circle around these intentions and ideas.
What I've learned:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it! William Hutchinson Murray
Be careful who's advice you take
Trust your gut
Own your wounds
Do your best
Be kind (to yourself first, then others)
Look around you
Be who you are