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I was always drawn to the visual arts and using my hands from a very young age.
In my teens, "going to art school" was my secret desire, so secret that I never told anyone at my all-girl's Grammar School in my home town, Nottingham. I left school at 16, after O-levels, vowing never to study anything again. It had been a very negative experience, due to the school's science bias, the girls studying art were considered the time wasters, slackers !!
In the 1960s I lived in London and worked as a fashion model in fashion houses, where I spent most of my time in the design studios, watching the designers and learning from them. I graduated to be a fashion designer, through my own studying, and worked in a freelance capacity in fashion for several decades. Eventually specialising in wedding dresses and ball gowns, working with antique lace and luscious coloured and textured silk fabrics.
I became a mum in 1980 and in 1990 moved out of London to Sussex and a small village, Forest Row, where my son studied at Michael Hall, a Rudolf Steiner School. The Steiner Waldorf education system is broad based, with a strong arts ethos and belief in educating the whole child and not over specialising on an academic focus. Obviously it was important to me after my own negative experience that I found a school that offered as wide a base as possible and was not biased towards science or the arts.
It was whilst in Sussex that I decided to try to learn oil painting techniques at the local adult education centre. I found it second nature to transfer skills from fashion design, such as colour knowledge and compositional balance and it proved a very exciting time. By an extraordinary piece of good fortune my next door neighbours were both artists and in art education, Roy and Diana Trollope. Roy had been the head of Fine Art at Central St. Martins in London and Diana worked at Ravensbourne College, Greenwich. I tentatively showed them the work I had been doing in adult education and they suggested and encouraged me to apply to Central St. Martins. Had I not met them and had their attention and support I would never have had the confidence or knowledge of the art school system to have applied.
Central St. Martins accepted me for a B-Tech Art Foundation course. With 500, mostly young, students on the course it was challenging and exhilarating. The tutors all exceptional artists in their own right were generous with their skills and insights and unstinting in their support. I knew that I wanted to carry on and study for a BA (Hons) Fine Art and fulfill my teenage secret desire. I looked at a number of art schools around the UK and was accepted at my first choice, University of the Creative Arts, Canterbury.
My son was leaving home and it was perfect timing for me to move to “the garden of England”, Kent. At UCA my main tutor was Roland Piche, a sculptor who had worked with Henry Moore and had his own success whilst in the milieu of London 1960s artists. Roland is an artist philosopher and was able to share his knowledge of surfaces, volumes, mass and the energies of materials in relationship to spiritual consciousness. With Roland I was able to let go of my preconceptions of my work and open myself to elements of chance and environment, my work became very exploratory.
I graduated in 2001 and continued to experiment, also making work on commission. When I moved to Whitstable in 2006, on the North Kent Coast, everything began to fall into place. The light and the vastness of the skies, that Turner had loved so much about the Isle of Thanet, focused my interests. On my daily walks by the sea the seagulls acrobatic ballets held me spellbound. In the towns they are mostly seen as scavengers, pests. Here they are masters of this world at the edge the sea, majestically soaring and swooping or held still and aloft despite the strong Northerly winds that I am battling below them.
In my newly built studio I returned to oil painting and held private shows for previous collectors of my work. The images were greeted with delight, “uplifting, calming, peaceful, a sense of freedom” were some regular comments. All exactly the emotions I had hoped to embody in the work. They have found there way into private collections in the UK, Spain and the USA. This year I exhibited at The Horsebridge Gallery in Whitstable where again I had a marvellous response. My head is in the clouds for the foreseeable future as I explore the vast range that the subject offers. My gratitude to Roland Piche for teaching me how to be patient and present and allow the energies and environment around me to reveal their poetry.