I was born in 1970 in the market town of Newcastle under Lyme, close to Stoke on Trent. Pencil and paper, and felt tip pens were my first love, I spent much of my childhood scribbling away on cat drawings, or designing Cinderella’s next stunning dress. I was inspired greatly by the work of L.S Lowry and Beryl Cook, and my local art shop in Newcastle was indeed a magical place to visit. Music was my other passion, and the 70’s music of Gilbert & Sullivan as well as Abba and many others were my favourites at this time, and I would sing into anything that resembled a microphone, praying that one day I would have a bottom as glorious as Agnetha’s!
Life unfortunately took a tragic twist upon the death of my mother, and after finishing school and trying out many different jobs from McDonalds to pub work, I took up sign writing, and escaped with my brushes in 1994 to live in sunny Cyprus. Working as a freelance artist, my job took on many different aspects from traditional signs, to large scale murals, commercial art and portraits, and I enjoyed the family orientated social gatherings and disco night life, where I would people-watch at leisure.
Eventually I moved back to Britain in 2002 to take my art work more seriously, bringing with me my son Harry. After two years at stoke on Trent College, I went to Staffordshire University where I did a degree in 3D design craft. This firmly moved my work into the 3D arena, and my multi-media sculptural works started to develop. I obtained a business grant through the university’s EFS scheme at the end of 2008, which funded me to set up working for myself, and helped fill some of the gaps in by business knowledge, of which there were many!
As well as mixed media, fine metals and silver-smithing was another area which was to bring me success, and to date I have two awards from Goldsmiths for my design skills and traditional techniques I use in making my silverware.
After the excitement of my first magazine and newspaper articles, my “New Shoes” sculpture range won an award from GWIIN, the Global Women’s Innovators and Inventors Network, and I started the exciting journey to take my beautiful ladies and their gorgeous shoes from my work bench to gallery.
I’m very lucky that I take most of my inspiration from people, as we’re surrounded by them! I love the vast scope in the human character, there are so many different kinds I could never be bored. I might be taken by a particular look, or a slight stance or movement that will make me pick up a pencil and document it. Relationships and emotion is also something that inspires me - much of my work always has a story behind it.
Using different media is also something that strongly influences my work. I really enjoy being able to move between using pencils, paint and clay, to using fine metals, woods and plastics. Each of the materials work in a completely different way, and the alchemy of manipulating them into my own ideas is quite magical, and sometimes quite messy!
Any idea I have starts out on pencil and paper, but with sculpture I tend to rapidly move into making it in clay, where I can spend many hours getting the pose I want to achieve just right, and creating the decadent shoes.
After the clay model is made, it is then cast into resin and hand finished, which takes many hours of sanding, and the application of colours and jewels to finish off. All in all, the “New Shoes” sculptures take a considerably long time to make, but well worth it when they’re done.
Work is never the same, and my job changes from day to day, which suites my inquisitive nature perfectly. I’ve always had difficulty in sitting still!
After the daily start of getting my son off to school and buying the milk, I tend to work in two shifts in a day. From morning til school finishes, then from after Harry’s (my son) bedtime til usually quite late, although having the break of being “mum” in between the shifts is great, cooking tea, games of Connect 4 and practicing his dance moves helps me to refocus.
I work from home, and have a workshop at the back of my house, which helps me to utilise my hours the best. I’m far too impatient to spend time travelling to and from a rented workshop, although when I do go out, I travel a lot by public transport so I can people watch at my leisure.
Relaxing is usually spent spending time with my nearest and dearest. Love and laughter is hugely important, as is curling up with hot chocolate and our long suffering cat.