Aged 5, I was given my first 10p to spend at a jumble sale in the junior school I was about to attend. Over 40 years later the pin cushion I purchased is well traveled and much used!
Throughout childhood I observed, curiously tracing patterns in overblown 1970's wallpaper, mentally calculating colour-way and repeat to find order and make sense of the world. One of my greatest delights was receiving a sketchpad and pack of felt tips at Christmas, the black always first to run out and become a scratchy imitation of its former self. Drawing, sewing, knitting and making were activities that would 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 drawing and being shocked at her depiction of a hand, a scrawled circle with lines for fingers, I was flabbergasted, that's not how the world is! Writing was an afterthought, I'd draw and colour to express, then offer the fewest words possible to write my boring sentence. My relationship with writing is transformed today, I write a lot, it takes time, thought and reflection and therefore I was unable to show my true colours 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. 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:
Be careful who's advice you take
Trust your gut
Sort your shit out
Do your best
Be kind (to yourself first, then others)
Look around you
Be who you are