What is your background?
I have drawn and painted all my life but I have only recently started to think of myself as an artist. I grew up in Norfolk then moved to Manchester (UK), where I have lived for the last 30 plus years.
My teenage years were dominated by having close family members with severe mental health issues and losing my dad to cancer when I was 17 - I took up the role of the 'responsible one' in the family while managing to avoid my own response to these events. While I loved the idea of art and creativity, my approach to life of keeping control, having things planned and predictable, and at all costs avoiding the terrifying thoughts of failure, meant I was very much ' colouring within the lines' for most of my life.
Having a cancer diagnosis myself two years ago meant I had to face the 'what if something terrible happens' fear head on; moving through it has enabled me to take the decision to go to art college and finally start to open up to true creativity; to peel away my roles as daughter, sister, therapist, partner and mum, and find me somewhere still in there. For me, and I'm aware rather stereo-typically, this feels a particularly female thing - to play the caring role, meet other's needs ahead of having, or rather expressing, a strong sense of self.
What does your work aim to say?
My art is very much an exploration of colour, rhythm, form, and freedom - I start with these elements rather than a predetermined concept of what the piece is 'about'... but somewhere along the line I usually discover an intensely personal response to what is appearing in front of me - a memory, a moment, or a resonance with my emotions. In this way the piece gains its own meaning - there is a feeling that I am uncovering something I did not know was there until I have found it.
While I appreciate the skill of realistic work, I find an abstract approach allows a space for this interaction between myself and the painting, and my aim is for it to provide that space for others to make their own individual exploration of meaning and response.
How does your work comment on current social or political influences?
I work part-time as a mental health charity manager and see each day the issues that people are struggling with, and know the value of human connection, a sense of being part of something or that someone else really gets it. And yet we often feel unable to express these needs when faced with images of 'perfect' celebrity lifestyles and aspirational wishlists of exotic holidays, fantastic homes or the latest designer item. I hope that, in however small a way, the personal nature of my art will help form a connection or resonance for people on a very human level.
What are the obstacles female artists encounter?
As touched on in a previous answer, the challenge for me of being female and an artist is the pull between different roles. I read an article recently on the need for true artists of all types to be selfish in taking time to think, concentrate, doodle and take the mental and physical space to create without distraction. And yet I, along I believe with many other women, was taught from an early age to put others first. So I am a mum and an artist; I am a partner and an artist; I am a charity manager and an artist - so can I still, according to the article, call myself a true artist? I believe so, but its a really tricky balancing act!
Manchester - UK