What degree or MA did you do, where and when did you complete? Tell us a bit about your story so far…
I did my Foundation at Falmouth, my BA Hons at Kent Institute of Art and Design in Canterbury in 1999. I juggled full time and part time Art teaching with numerous residencies in the UK and Cyprus until I made the decision to return to West Cornwall and focus more on my practice. I have just completed my MA Fine Art (with Distinction) from Aberystwyth University, and continue to engage with residencies both in the UK and further afield.
Tell us about your art practice
My practice straddles drawing, painting, craft, writing and walking. I could describe my work as ‘Coddiwompling’ – walking without knowing really where I am going – this happens both on physical walks and again back in the studio whilst making responses to walks / runs. This sense of the unknown happens, for me, within the process of making each painting. A discipline of observational drawing is important to my practice, even when I am working from intuition. I engage with natural materials and endeavor to make my materials from scratch, thereby having a greater understand of the paints and grounds I am using (ie traditional gesso and egg tempera). Underpinning my visual work is a robust level of research and reading, with a focus on women’s experience of the world (both now and historically) regarding safety, domesticity, connecting to natural materials, hierarchies and rituals.
Tell us about the studio where you work
My studio is in a quiet, rural part of West Penwith. It is a space where I can shut out the world, and focus, free of phone and internet coverage, and people! I divide my space up into messy painting and gessoing areas, which are separate from clearer spaces for drawing. Although not a sociable space, it is a place to disengage from daily life, and reengage with my practice: a breathing space.
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished two large bodies of work, and have been spending time on the marketing side of my practice, which is becoming more and more important. In times when I am not making, I read a lot. The books I read then become starting points, and stay with me for the duration of the next body of work, with ideas within the books becoming part of the thought process in my paintings. I am currently reading The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel, Why We Make Things and Why it Matters by Peter Korn, and Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au. I am currently working in my sketchbook, writing, drawing, thinking.
What help have you had through Cultivator so far?
I have received a studio grant, one to one support from an experienced mentor, invaluable advice regarding marketing, building confidence and moving towards being a more full time practitioner, a gesso workshop which, many years ago, kick started my curiosity about making and using natural materials, the opportunity to show with a group of artists in a prominent local gallery, with support and advice from Fieldnotes and Cultivator, connecting to other artists throughout Cornwall and building my professional network, advice and expertise in making applications for future support.
What would you say about the Cultivator support so far?
Everything I have received so far has really opened up doors, and I know it is not just for the present – everything has longevity. It is enabling me to feel like I can take the step from being a part time artist, to a full time artist and practitioner. It has been confidence building and self-enabling.
What drives you?
Being curious, about drawing, exploring materials, reading books, about other people’s work. I don’t know what I can achieve, and this sense of not knowing is what fuels me. No time is better spent than reading about art, making art, reviewing art and talking about art!
What is next?
I am just about to embark on a 2022 residency in Snowdonia, and am in the process of planning a walking residency closer to home, involving a longer walk along the South West coast path, also this year. Both residencies will be starting points for engaging with the immediate landscape in different ways, the changing light, the time of day, the geology of the land, the mood of the landscape and of me in it. My paintings however are not really about the surrounding landscape, but about my response to it, as a female moving through often isolated places. Both residencies are starting points for fresh bodies of work, and also catalysts for exhibiting in the Southwest and further afield. I am in the process of beginning to explore approaching galleries with a view to being represented both here in Cornwall and further afield.