artwork

Summer Lodge, Nottingham Trent University, 2019
AA2A Project, University of Derby, 2018-2019
• Close Knit, 2009-2019 (ongoing)
Hawthorn, 2018
• Embroidery & Thread Stick, 2016
• Girlhood, 2015  
Interior Lightning, Navigation Warehouse, Wakefield 2011
The Market Estate Project, N7, London 2010
In Situ, E17 Arts Trail, London 2009
Cut It Out, touring exhibition 2009
Momento, E17 Arts Trail, London 2008
Wish Ribbons, London & Essex, 2006-2007
• 
Incandescent: Light Night, Hull Arts Lab, Hull 2006 

Hidden Worlds, Art in Allotments and Urban Green Spaces, Nottingham 2006
• Christopher Dresser Residency, V&A, London 2004
Creative Connections, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2003
House Hold, The House Gallery, SE5, London 2003
• Goldsmiths College, University of London 2002-2003


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Summer Lodge, Nottingham Trent University 2019 

Summer Lodge 10 - carry/hold 

I've carried these reels of thread around with me since 2003. They were bought in a box of odds and ends from the Constance Howard collection during my MA at Goldsmiths. While packing my bag for Summer Lodge at Nottingham Trent University I gathered the rust/blood ones from the box - just in case.

Like many, I hold the beginnings of ideas/unresolved work/instinctual work as thoughts and objects. Summer Lodge provided the perfect opportunity to sit with this (reels and button handkerchiefs in particular) and allow space for it to speak.

Rust was my mum's favourite colour. I've yet to meet another for whom this is the case and I'll be delighted when I do. The eight reels became one thread, and after a painstaking and frustrating two and a half days I worked out how to knit them together to form an umbilical type cord. The process took most of Summer Lodge and surprised me. I'd not planned to make a cord, yet here it was forming and becoming in my hands.

The work was emotionally painful and I've not yet processed it. I thought about the women before me who birthed daughters and then I, childless, being the last of the line. The woman before me are Doreen, Ada, Hannah and I plan to trace back the mother of Hannah and beyond so I have eight names, including my own. As I knitted another work appeared in my head, a series of eight connected dress forms in red organza - an idea to carry for a while.

I suspended a handkerchief and let it surprise me each morning. I've held the idea for many years of stitching buttons to a bedsheet and this was a maquette of that. I wonder at the weight of a bedsheet, of how it would feel to lie under, could it be cool and comforting? Might it suffocate? Unprompted, Milly, one of the wonderful studio assistants lay under the handkerchief and looked up at the buttons, remarking on how beautiful some of them were.

Summer Lodge provided a space in which new work formed, ideas emerged and old ones were reaffirmed. The support and positivity from particular studio assistants and participating artists was also most welcome.





This room is known as the blood bath





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AA2A Project, University of Derby 2018-2019

My mum died in 2017. When I lived in London there were constant reminders of mum and her family who lived for generations in central London. From my bedroom window the BT Tower was visible, seven miles away on the distant horizon. This totem transported me back to memories of Auntie Lil's spotless kitchen in Camden Town, where the tower loomed large beyond the window, and of Uncle Fred who lived a stones throw from the tower off Oxford Street. At Leytonstone tube the Central Line could take me to mum's house and Epping Forest where reminders abound. Taking or not taking these journeys wasn't the point, the associations and memories were sparked, keeping Doreen Edna Logan and my London ancestors present somehow.

Moving to Derbyshire removed this layer of association. The land holds no family connection, and this fact has left me adrift somedays while I sit with complicated feelings. When packing up my flat I had the foresight to include my precious handful of childhood storybooks. Immediately after moving to Derbyshire I reread these books, wishing to reconnect with Mum and wondering about my adult reading of these tales with a birds eye view of childhood.

One story, The Woodcutter's Daughter by Alison Uttley stood out. It was eerily familiar, like recalling a fragmented dream. It tells the story of Cherry-blossom who lives in a forest with her elderly parents, a girl who sews by the fire, who mends and makes. When Mum read these stories to my sister and I she slept in the room with us. Looking back I realise she was using us as protection. My dad was an alcoholic and Mum suffered years of domestic violence. That was the backdrop to fairytales in our house. 

After re-reading the stories I became intrigued by the author: Alison Uttley. Tapping her name into the search bar I was astonished to discover that Alison was born three miles from where I live. The seed of an idea began to form and I walked to her house the following weekend.

My childhood memories are tainted and complex and I decided to explore my associations with The Woodcutter's Daughter and bedtime story telling within my AA2A placement. This idea led to drawing, painting, walking, writing, printing, stitching and taking beginners courses in hedge laying and dry stone walling. The boundary around Alison Uttley's farm birthplace got me thinking about boundaries and respect.

The outcomes produced are a beginning, I've just scratched the surface. 


 The hedge and stone wall boundaries of Uttley's farm

Fairy Tales by Alison Uttley - The Bird of Time illustration


Hawthorn Hedge linocuts - editions of 25

Rock and a Hard Place
Pillowcase, thread

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Close Knit, 2009-2019 (ongoing)
Close Knit: held together, as by social or cultural ties: a close-knit family.

Once my Mum had taught me to knit I was off, enthralled by the process and the aim of getting to the end of the ball of wool. After hours of labour my Dad was presented with a blue, red and green scarf taller than my girl self. He wore it once, carefully tucked into his coat and looking back I realise he was embarrassed by the gaudy colours. My Mum’s oldest sister, Auntie Lil was an incredible knitter but for all her patience in learning Lil did not posses the patience to teach, so her encyclopaedic knowledge was never passed on before she passed on.

Close knit is an ongoing project, and in it's making I am creating an unusual family album exploring my interest in family history, textile processes and landscape. Purposely using the first stitch my mother taught me Close Knit marks and commemorates characters from my particular family, some unknown but hinted at in reminiscence and others who played leading roles in my childhood. These threads link me to people, land and place. Making the work involves travel throughout the UK, research and sensitive detective work, particular graves are familiar, frequently visited over the years and others a discovery. 

The cosies function in dual ways: while identifying these plots as somehow important they simultaneously conceal the identity of the interred, giving no clue to my relationship to them. This painstaking, time consuming and caring act is also pointless on a physical level, my attempt to warm up a gravestone might be seen as comic, irreverent and my choice of colour cheerful in the cemetery context.

Miss-understanding 
As I sat knitting in public three older ladies passed by grinning, my knitting was baby pink and beginning to look like a blanket. One asked, 'Do you know it’s a girl?', I nodded, smiling and thinking to myself of the girls that had been my grandmother and aunts.

Jessie, Alexina, John, Robert, 2009

Work in progress, 2009

Jessie, 2009

Marjory, 2009

Ada, Evelin, Lilian, 2009

Krysia, 2011

Violet, 2014

Sandy, 2016

George, 2018

Doreen, 2018

Frederick, 2019

Fred, 2019

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Hawthorn, 2018
The tree hand embroidered onto this child's nightgown grows at the end of Englands Lane in Loughton, Essex. As a girl I remember sitting underneath its branches and colouring in my flower fairy book. This memory leads to the next, that afternoon I developed sun stroke and spent the rest of the day in our back bedroom, curtains drawn, being sick. This memory is vivid and hazy all at once.

I moved from London to Derbyshire in Autumn 2018 and knowing I'll no longer walk past this tree stitched Hawthorn to commemorate the tree/my childhood. 



Hawthorn in a holly grove

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Embroidery & Thread Stick, 2016
As a child sewing tins were a treasure trove to me. Reels of thread, press studs, hooks & eyes, buttons, precious packages of needles with evocative logos and unfamiliar price tags. The fluff, the stuff of ages past, of hopes, of mendings.

When my cousin Krysia died in 2009 my sister and I emptied her house in Elgin, Scotland, a home once shared with her mum, Jess. The house and loft were packed with possessions and during our repeated visits we sorted, organised and cleared away their lifetimes. Magpie me was drawn to Jessie's sewing and button tins, and I gathered them together with a pile of plaid, plain, monogrammed and embroidered handkerchiefs found in the house. This year in my first owned living space, I've begun to experiment and play with these precious materials, heavy with family history. My aunt died in 1997 and by working with threads she selected I've felt we are working in collaboration, making magic in Thread Stick.

Using photographs taken while walking and an embroidery hoop, circular images emerged and I hand stitched these into the handkerchiefs. The woodlands depicted are far from suburbia, in parts of Derbyshire well known to me, unpeopled sites with clear and hidden pathways, places between places. Landscape, family history and slow textile process meet within this new body of work.

In Close Knit, you can see the heart shaped gravestone cosies I knitted for Jessie (2009) and Krysia (2011).

Auntie Jessie's thread

Thread Stick 
Cherry branch, thread
160.5cm

Living room studio

Path, work in progress

Branch, work in progress

Pine
Handkerchief, thread
26.5cm x 27cm

Slope
Handkerchief, thread
24.5cm x 25cm

Path
Handkerchief, thread
30.5cm x 31cm

Branch
Handkerchief, thread
24cm x 23.5cm

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Girlhood, 2015
Epping Forest had a deep effect upon me. There were no houses opposite my childhood home, just the forest and this view filled my bedroom window. I walked alone there once as a child and have since fantasised about this being a safe place for a girl and wanted to represent her using fabrics from my childhood era. Some of the fabrics used are my mothers aprons, pillow cases and blankets from home, some were sourced in charity shops. My friends 8 year old daughter allowed me to trace her arm many years ago, this tracing and my first experiments lay dormant for a time, and this year I decided to see the idea through and stitch ten pairs of arms by hand. It took months.

I staged the work in Epping Forest, with the help of a photographer made a large format image, this was displayed in the summer of 2015 during the Leytonstone Arts Trail. My plan is to stage the work throughout the year making an image in spring, summer, autumn and winter to create a body of work under one title, Girlhood, an Essex girls family album. It is a self portrait.

Girlhood, 2015 
Large format photograph

First experiment with stitched arms and woodland

Hand stitched arms using vintage bedding, aprons and fashion fabric

My orange blanket


Spring 2016

Summer 2015

Autumn 2015

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Interior Lightning, Navigation Warehouse, Wakefield 2011
Interior Lighting was a group show created by staff at The Hepworth Wakefield. My installation took four and a half days to install using nine balls of acrylic wool, and that time again to raise my arms above my head without wincing. Interior Lightning included painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, intervention and installation.

My intervention was inspired by Hepworth's use of string within particular sculptures and a desire to play with an illusion of colour mixing in space. This work continues my fascination with elevating cheap materials using time consuming processes. 







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The Market Estate Project, N7, London 2010
http://www.marketestateproject.com/
Wool has an association with homespun activity, of comfort and familiarity. Using wool in the simple act of wrapping bannisters created an alteration in the everyday experience of this stairway setting. Conversely, the covering revealed and delineated the usually passed over and unconsidered, providing a visual and tactile experience that altered as hands grasped the banister and dislodged yarn. While wrapping I inhabited the stairway for three days, settling in a (non)space that others pass through from one place to another.

Both mornings the work had been vandalised, threads broken and the wool spat upon. Each morning I made good the damage and continued my wrapping, working my way down to the ground floor. 







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In Situ, E17 Arts Trail, London 2009
This temporary work was created in response to the dimensions of the corridor spaces in the Hornbeam Centre. Balls of red wool unraveled and wrapped features within the interior, linking the three floors of the building.


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Cut It Out, The Otter Gallery, Chichester, Southampton City Art Gallery, Bentliff Art Gallery, Maidstone 2009
Making new work for Cut It Out allowed space to explore a process that is a relatively new departure to my usual method of making. This work continues my interest in using simple processes to transform the value of second hand or cheap materials through time-consuming work. A theme that runs through much of my practice is a juxtaposition of inside/outside, particularly in relation to notions of home and 'nature' beyond our domesticated and tamed gardens. I've purposely selected a wallpaper printed with a repeated vine motif and with scalpel in hand have attempted to return this simplified and repeated version of nature to a three dimensional form closer to that of the original plant. Using everyday and 'non art' materials is a consistent theme in my practice. Materials such as ribbons, pins, wool, apples and now wallpaper speak to me of my childhood memories. The wallpaper acts as a mimetic device that transports me to another place, another time.



Installing in Southampton City Art Gallery

Lair, 2009


Benliff Art Gallery, Kent

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Momento, E17 Arts Trail, London 2008
The use of handkerchiefs as a commemorative device inspired my embroidery of snippets of text onto vintage hankies. Handwriting identical to the original was painstakingly hand stitched using backstitch, the text came from various sources, a 1907 postcard and from letters and the backs of photographs that belonged to my father. A 5-meter length of scalpel cut vintage wallpaper was specially created for the corridor ceiling space at the Hornbeam Centre. These works are concerned with themes of memory, nostalgia, tokens and reminders, the familiar made unfamiliar using a make do and mend aesthetic.






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Wish Ribbons, London & Essex 2006-2007
The idea for my Wish Ribbon events came from the ancient British custom of tying wish-rags to the branches of particular trees in order to attract luck, love, healing and success. Participants selected a ribbon that represented a wish and tied it to a branch. Everyday textiles were thus imbued with meaning and desires became visible and tangible.

White: a wish for a loved one no longer near you (many miles apart or who has passed away)
Yellow: a wish for change, to make a fresh start
Orange: a wish for success in a new venture or direction
Red: a wish for love
Green: a wish for health for yourself or a loved one
Blue: a wish for financial stability, increased wealth

Loughton, Essex

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Incandescent: Light Night, Hull Art Lab, Hull 2006
A night of outdoor, live events featuring surprises, quirks and charms from four commissioned artists. Light Night was part of Incandescent, a month of events organise by Hull Art Lab exploring the spectacle of illumination in Hull.

This exciting opportunity was offered after responding to an invitation to artists on Arts Jobs. I considered possible sites by the Humber Estuary and settled upon this underpass as the location for the work. The installations aim was to disrupt the familiar, to simultaneously deceive, while also enticing the viewer to linger in a place usually hurried through.

This work is a continuation of my experimentation creating illusion in situ using basic materials and simple, clunky processes. The lights lasted eight hours and this temporality interested me and is key in creating an experience of apparition. It will come as no surprise to discover my fascination with Victorian trickery, an eerie play with light, shadows, lanterns and visual illusion. My intention is to confuse the viewer - can they really believe their eyes? How is this done? Is it really there? One viewer asked, 'Where is the light projected from?'. 900 lights manufactured for night fishing were used in this installation.

Hull Art Lab is sadly now closed. It was an artist run organisation that facilitated the making and showing of contemporary art. They supported artists who's work was experimental, innovative and risk taking and had artistic integrity. They aimed to inspire, challenge and entertain. With big thanks to Bob, Espen and Rob, Clare, Emma and the magnificent team of volunteers.

Making the line


Installing lights



Installation image taken by Gary Pickles

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Hidden Worlds, Art in Allotments and Urban Green Spaces, Nottingham 2006
Groundwork Greater Nottingham hosted Hidden Worlds in the Windmill Community Gardens. Hidden Worlds created an opportunity for a group of 16 artists from varied disciplines to come together, try out new ideas and respond to the site. The work was undertaken within the framework of a short course run by Creative Collaborations in partnership with Groundwork East Midlands.

My own experimentation focused on a young apple tree in the gardens. It was apparent that the community gardens had potential but needed nurture. The spindly young tree also possessed potential and this was suggested by hanging full-grown fruit within its branches. Text was applied to each apple, which was then tied with beautiful green ribbon to the tree.

The myth and folk law that surrounds the apple tree is text rich. For further information read Apple Games and Customs, available from: www.commonground.org.uk 







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Christopher Dresser Residency, V&A, London 2004
In 1876-7 Dresser was the first European designer to tour Japan and the Victoria & Albert Museum staged a show exploring the work of this influential man. The particular areas of Dresser's practice that interested me were his early pencil drawn botanical studies and the wallpaper designs inspired by these studies. To connect with Dresser I sketched his illustrations of the growth structures of plants and became fascinated by pencil lines on his drawings surface that gave me clues to his working process and skill.

In the studio I explored basic origami, folding and unfolding and transferring my copied botanical studies in pencil, these intricate patterns were then cut into the paper with a scalpel and refolded. Springs and stems began to pop up, the paper appeared to be alive somehow, and growing. From these explorations I worked on large papers while keeping the scale of the patterns small, transferring more botanical studies and wallpaper designs onto handmade Japanese and Indian papers, as well as heavy tracing paper and waxed stencil paper. The visitors to the V&A were interested and positive in response to my explorations, and very generous in teaching me their own tricks with paper.


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Creative Connections, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 2003
Commission for Holloway School, N7, London
In the dark the familiar becomes unfamiliar, edges lose their edginess (or find it), stairwells loom as blackened hollows, a pitch blur. In a city school like Holloway it was hard to find darkness, the lights of London allowed for sure footedness. The quiet was lovely though, a settled stillness within the building.

In school I used a temporal light source conventionally used for night fishing. These lights glow for eight hours and there are 400 on the installation. Working intuitively, I placed the lights in the schools interior and took many images playing with exposure length and aperture. The glowing shape looks as if it could be on the move, an amorphous form roaming around the building in the dark. A secret thing.


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House Hold, The House Gallery, SE5, London 2003
During my MA at Goldsmiths I organised House Hold, an exhibition to show work in progress. We were united in making work that unsettled assumptions about a 'cosy' domestic space, Deptford Market and charity shop finds were tweaked and dismantled, transformed into troubling artifacts from (an)other's strange home.

Materials usually associated with the sewing box interest me: cotton, pins, ribbon and wool, these being historically connected to women's pastimes and therefore the domestic space. During my childhood I sewed and knitted, becoming absorbed with my self motivated projects, making clothes for my Sindy doll. Returning to these familiar methods of manufacture enables me to explore/express my relationship to the domestic space of that childhood.

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands is a piece that has the potential to keep growing. Thread from the reel is manipulated around the inserted pins to form a knitted tube - as such it feeds itself in a repetitive, pointless pastime, devouring thread in the process, keeping busy. Found wool scraps full of potential narratives are french knitted into a length that describes the circumference of my mum's living room and in One of Pair, green cloth bottles made from second hand curtain material inhabit a corner. 

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands (detail)

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands (detail)

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands (detail)

The Devil Makes Work for Idle Hands (detail)

Circumference

One of a Pair

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Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2002-2003
The following images illustrate my experiments in woodland using torchlight, laser, wool and ribbon. The time and support during my MA gave me the confidence to explore my practice in my childhood stomping grounds. These early playful installations and interventions led to work shown in House Hold, Hidden Worlds, Light Night and Wish Ribbons.


Studio

There's No Place Like Home

Ribbon House

White wool wrapped trees

Re-knitted toys