Category Archives: My Art

Our Last Hope

You may think that this is me playing at doing something I fancy but it really is our last hope.

The crowdfunding page has been up for 4 days and not a single donation ūüė• so here are the links for those of you that would like to help – if you can afford a few pounds, that would be great, if not, please re-post; very many thanks in advance and thanks to those that have already posted the original appeal on FB:

Seven and a half years ago, after recovering from a major depressive episode and other personal issues, I moved 250 miles South, away from the people and places that I knew and loved. I had no money and many of my friends all over the world bought pieces of my art to help me to buy things that I would need. and three close friends made the actual move possible. ¬†With only a weeks’ notice, no savings¬†and coming into a job that didn’t pay enough to get a mortgage; my¬†friends pitched in and helped me to rent a house and move – I couldn’t have done it without them!

Since then, I have made a lot of lovely new friends, some of whom are now like family, and met my husband¬†and over the years, we worked hard to repay debts that had been brought into the relationship. We lived a simple lifestyle¬†but just as we’d got to the point where things were finally getting settled and straight, I was made redundant. ¬†I took it as a chance to recover from the stresses of the job and to focus on my studies and it turned out to be a fantastic blessing because after four years of marriage and not being able to conceive, I discovered that I was pregnant!

Now, I was earning good money in the job that I had been made redundant from so I had encouraged my hubby to take a risk and accept a one year contract working for a youth charity that meant a great deal to him.  He was finally doing a job that he enjoyed, was intellectually stimulated at work and giving something back so he was extremely happy but before our beautiful baby-girl was born, his contract came to an end.

I applied for short-term contracts (up to six months) in my field but found that I was unable to secure a position once I told potential employers that I was pregnant Рeven after being told that the job was mine.  I decided to change direction and do something more rewarding and was able to secure a part-time position as a youth worker.  It pays very little but it was enough to keep us from sinking and despite not yet being fully recovered from developing HELLP Syndrome towards the end of the pregnancy, I am still applying for suitable roles within my field as a quality manager.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want to leave my baby-girl with a childminder and I certainly don’t¬†want to go back into a highly stressful career again but I will do whatever is necessary for my family – who wouldn’t?

When my hubby’s contract was coming to an end, one of the organisations that he volunteers with¬†encouraged him to apply for a full-time position and he is now eight months into the recruitment process and just awaiting a start date. ¬†In the meantime, he is doing temp work on less than ¬£250 per week, our savings have disappeared and it could be another 6 months before he gets a start date. ¬†He applies for jobs that pay more – although he realises that it wouldn’t really be fair to start a job and then push off when the start date comes but he is only thinking of the family – but there isn’t much locally that is suitable.

To add insult to injury, our landlady has given us notice on the house. ¬†We have 7 weeks to vacate the property. ¬†With my hubby in temp work, me on maternity leave from a very poorly paid part-time job (and not entitled to statutory maternity pay), we haven’t a hope of privately renting and certainly no chance of buying somewhere. ¬†That means that we are facing homelessness with temporary, emergency accommodation whilst we wait for social housing.

Now, I had been toying with the idea of starting a business for a long time and realised that our current circumstances could well be fate giving me a kick up the backside so I wrote the business plan and have set up the crowdfunding page etc.  My next job is to write some funding bids.  I have to be working or we will have to re-home the puppy, the cat, the chickens and our other furries before we are made homeless Рthat is how desperate our situation is now.

My weekly shop costs about ¬£30 and it is subsidised with vegetables and bread from a food bank, as well as my Mum giving us¬†food to bring home when we visit. ¬†Those visits have been paid for by car boot sales and over the next few weeks, selling things that I have made at Christmas fairs. ¬†If it hadn’t been for the generosity of family and friends, we wouldn’t have even had enough clothes for our baby-girl.

I could spend the next seven weeks breaking my back to do the house and garden up to try to get our deposit back. ¬†We did a lot of big jobs at our own expense over the years – things that were the landlord’s responsibility but they never had the money and as some of you may remember, left us for 8 weeks with an electrical circuit that wasn’t earthed when we moved in;¬†with no heating or hot water for over 3 weeks a few years ago through January and February and more recently, took over 8 weeks to have a collapsed bathroom roof and ceiling repaired. ¬†Incidentally, they wouldn’t pay for the full job to be done and left us with damp, mouldy walls and rotten skirting board so I stripped the bathroom, let it dry and re-decorated just so that it was safe for baby. ¬†With that in mind, I expect that it would be best to just clean it and spend my energies starting my own business and sorting out where we are going to live.

What is left of our savings will pay for a deposit and move but if I can’t get the funding in to start my business, we’ll be homeless within a month anyway so it really is critical that I get the funding in to start the business.

The business will not only be a way for me to sell my own pieces¬†and to raise the profile of other artists and craftspeople but we will also be able to provide workshops in order to share our skills and knowledge with people who want to learn. ¬†Most importantly, 25% of those workshop spaces will be free to individuals who are in some way disadvantaged and would not normally have the opportunity. ¬†I certainly won’t get rich from it.

The journey continues

It has been a while I know but here I am!

I didn’t place in the talent show, fourth place but to be honest, I was so nervous because it was my first and pleased that I was there at all. ¬†The star judge was Lisa Scott-Lee¬†from Steps!** Correction, Tina Barrett from S Club 7 (Mr PinQ corrected me – I was never a fan of either, can you tell?)

Anyhoo, a few weeks later, I attended an Executive workshop at the National Career Service.  It was really good and offered some great tips to getting back into work or getting the job that you want.  They are actually a charity and the service that they provide is superb Рif ever you need help getting the right job, I highly recommend looking at what the NCS has to offer.

I signed off early in November, I’ll pay my own National Insurance. ¬†I needed to get control of my life back. ¬†Job searching and applying for things that I am sifted out of as “over-qualified” or, “well, she won’t stay long” for 5 hours every day was soul destroying.

I cracked on and started making. ¬†I made a stock of¬†SLS free soaps, SLS and SLES free argan oil shampoos, strawberry jam, lemon curd, onion marmalade, redcurrant jelly, chilly jelly, chilly jam and scented candles. ¬†Mr PinQ and I made our way to the Christmas Fair to sell our wares and when I left the stall to sing with the Theatre Company, he’d sold loads. ¬†It turns out that my sweet Irish boy is great at selling the products that I am great at making so I left him to it.

I have been offered a job as a Youth Worker, despite my lack of experience, starting in the New Year for 8 hours a week which suits me fine. ¬†I also have three possible short-term contracts in Quality coming up. ¬†Whilst I don’t want to go back to being a Quality Manager permanently, I’ll be happy to do a bit of contract work.

The degree isn’t really moving. ¬†I’m feeling pretty demotivated to be honest. ¬†The tutor didn’t seem to read my written work initially. ¬†There is no mandatory written work but I like to do a piece on my research, development and outcome as was required at Diploma level because if nothing else, it’s a damn good record of the creative process for me. ¬†He makes comments that if he’d read what I had written, he would have seen in my text and realised that I was already aware of. ¬†In assignment 1, I wrote about 10 pages on the methods that I had used for creating some glass sculptures because although the finished pieces weren’t what you would consider to be “stacked construction, the methods were – such as my crow and kiln carved pieces below:

The latter being a continuation of a theme, a new way to represent the sea as first seen in my original sculpture at Diploma:

The Wash

He actually stated that the pieces weren’t obviously “stacked construction” and that I should write up the method so that the observer would understand that.

This is why I don’t really believe that he reads what I spend hours writing and it has left me really flat and uninspired – to the point where I didn’t even bother to put together a photo album of pieces from my last assignment:

It was “modelling in clay and plaster” and I started thinking about the Escher staircases and M√∂bius strips and ended up with a development of an impossible circle from clay to a plaster carving and some accompanying drawings. ¬†I also made a couple of Unicorns horns from white sparkly Fimo which began as a legend that I created for the granddaughter of a dear friend a year ago. ¬†I sent one to her via her Grandma with a letter explaining that my Unicorn rescued a baby one who had broken his leg and that whilst under our care, had lost his baby horn (like you lost your baby teeth) and that it needed to be kept safe.

I submitted photos of the Unicorn’s horns and a copy of the letter with a full explanation of the legend and all that my tutor had to say was that I had taken the form of a Unicorn’s horn too literally.

Funny that. ¬†The little girl that it was intended for would not have grasped the point to an abstract of a Unicorn’s horn so a literal representation was really the only way to go.

Currently working on “Casting in Plaster” which started with an exercise in casting rubbish and hasn’t really grabbed me but I have eventually come up with a bit of a post apocalypse/Mad Max sort of theme. ¬†Pics to follow when complete.

ttfn

xx

 

 

Chinchilla Towers

I made a deal with myself to take some time off between finishing my diploma and starting my degree.¬† I needed to rest a while.¬† It was a good job I did, new job, things to do at home… you know how it is.

Anyway, Chinchilla Towers was my labour of love and I finally finished it!  We kept a close eye on the babies once they had moved in but even our vet is happy with the situation, there is so much space and so much to do that everyone is getting on marvelously.

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I was shaking the first time I went up the ladders to do the roof…

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By the time I was applying bitumen to the pitched roof, I was bothering with ladders!

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8′ x 6′ x 4′.¬† Fox proof and all it needs now is a couple of coats of Coastal Breeze (or whatever the name of the Garden Shades it is that I’ve bought).

Huge thanks to Adz and my lovely husband for all of their help with the lifting and shifting!

Then, much to the surprise of my neighbour, I knocked up a pretty shelving unit 7′ x 22″ x 18″ for my art stuff whilst Mr Qart was at work one Bank Holiday:

Soft pinq :o)

Soft pinq :o)

Now I can get on with my studies.

 

 

Squeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m so excited!

One of the competitions that I entered was the Parker Harris V&A “Inspired by” competition.

I had an email today from the Morley Gallery in London:


CONGRATULATIONS YOUR WORK HAS BEEN SELECTED FOR
Inspired by… to be shown at Morley Gallery London
Thank you so much for putting forward your work for the Inspired by… exhibition. We had an unprecedented response to the competition this year, with over 440 submissions, and it was with great difficulty that the judges made their final selection for the exhibition.
‚Äú..it’s been fascinating – very high calibre of entries this year..‚ÄĚ
Gill Saunders V & A Curator and ‘Inspired By‘ Judge
 

“ It was a very difficult job to make a shortlist as they were such varied, interesting works!
As always there were lots of surprising responses to the collection which is great to see –
and reinforces how inspiring our museum can be. “

Alice Sage Curator Museum of Childhood
 

‚ÄúIt’s always very hard to choose a number when so much hard work has gone into the work…‚ÄĚ
Adrian Deakes V & A Curator and ‘Inspired By‘ Judge

 

I submitted three and it doesn’t specify which so it may well be all of them!¬† I have emailed them to clarify.

I am SO excited!

Did I say that already?

These were the photos that I submitted:

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Inspired by...

Inspired by…

Who’s up for a trip to Londontown late May/early June?

 

It’s so exciting!

My degree paperwork has arrived, although I’m still waiting for my final grade on my diploma.

I’m doing a very good job of not starting it yet though.¬† I have to completely finish Chinchilla Towers (watch this space) before I start my degree.

You get to choose three modules at level 4, and then specialize in two of those at levels 5 and 6.  Sculpture was a no-brainer but I wanted to do printmaking and textiles as the other two.  When I read the textiles modules at each level, it became apparent that I had to take both level 4 textiles modules if I wanted to take textiles again at levels 5 & 6.

I had a good think about it and I am going to take printmaking as an add-on if I decide that textiles isn’t for me and that will broaden my scope because I love printmaking:

A print of my painting of a turbine

A print of my painting of a turbine

The original painting

The original painting

When I did my diploma, there were so many subjects that I would have liked to have explored but I could only choose two from the list.¬† One had to be sculpture but I chose a “sensible” option fro the second subject – graphic design – because I knew that it would come in useful for work and the theatre group.

I was taught to knit by my Grandmas when I was a tot, even before I started school, I used to love doing needlework at school and I have carried on doing knitting and embroidery over the years.  Sewing itself has been a useful skill for repairs and making curtains for old houses with non-standard windows, covering sofas, making cushions and even making a skirt for a show two years ago Рthat was a great adventure!

More recently, I have begun my education in quilting with a fabulous teacher and have since taken on some big quilting projects to keep me quiet in the evenings but I know that there is so much more to explore with textiles.¬† My favourite artist, Magdalena Abakanowicz, made the most magnificent, massive sculptures with textiles – old burlap sacks that she would deconstruct and then re-weave in to “Abakany” (Abakans):

Magdalena Abakanowicz - Abakans

Magdalena Abakanowicz – Abakans

I have also seen some beautiful textile art created by a fellow diploma student and my tutor.

Between my main textile influences (Grandmas, Magdalena Abakanowicz, tutor, fellow student and my quilting teacher) I am inspired to explore this fabulously versatile material.

I recently made my first Dorset button – although it is a bit clumsy:

Flower

Flower

The story behind these is really sad – they were made by hand from the 1600’s to the 1800’s and everyone in the family could make them and sell them.¬† They were, for many families, the main source of income and when buttons began to be manufactured by machine, many families died of starvation because their livelihood disappeared.

I was a Textile Colourist for Dorma in my youth and I loved it – the designers would send a bit of a plate or something and I would have to create a dye to match the petal on a flower or whatever.¬† I used to challenge myself and got better and better at matching by eye and in the plastics industry, was tested and it was discovered that I could see colour down to a őĒE of 0.3 and the human eye can normally only differentiate a őĒE of about 1.¬† It was one of the best jobs that I ever had!¬† I only left because that site went up for sale or closure and I couldn’t afford to be out of work.

So, I can already do carding, spinning and weaving; I can knit , do some basic sewing and make raggy quilts; I can colour match and dye fabric and I have begun to explore the art of making Dorset buttons.

The next textile challenges for me are to learn crochet and felt making but I will probably do those as part of my level 4 studies.

I’m a happy bunny.

NSP

Entry for the National Sculpture Prize has now closed so here is my proposal…

I wanted to create a sculpture that was of Global significance but that was also specific to Devon and linked into my previous work – Boundaries, the Human Condition and Cloning.

About a month ago, I had a little flash of inspiration. Honey.

I did some research and here is a brief summary of the things that I found out mixed with some things that I already knew:

I’d seen news reports about bees pretty regularly because they are in Global decline but during my research, some things really stood out: scientists in Australia have been attaching little radio tags to honey bees to study pollination patterns; then there is the “Keep Britain Buzzing” campaign; and even H√§agen-Dazs¬ģ have a page on their website about the plight of the honey

Whilst I knew of the cultural tradition of Devon honey and mead, I was really surprised when I found out that honey bees were so important to the people of Devon that there is folklore about honey bees – people used to even tap the hive and tell the bees of important family events such as: “master is dead”.

We introduced honey bees to the whole world and they are thought to be responsible for 80% of insect pollination.  I knew that the decline in bee numbers could have a significant impact on food supplies for all of us but I had no idea that humans were responsible for spreading them around the world.

Then I looked at reproduction and did you know that the Queen honey bee chooses the sex of her offspring?  She lays the her eggs and if she wants them to be female, she fertilizes them with stored sperm and if she wants them to be male, she leaves them unfertilized.  The males only inherit HER genes so they are, basically, clones.

My little moment of inspiration was bang on.  My sculpture had to be about the decline of the honey bee, to bring the observer into the hive so that they would feel the loss as something tangible long before starvation becomes an issue.

So it was time to work out what the sculpture was going to actually look like.  It had to be the hive, empty.

The sculpture had to be a hexagonal cellular structure.¬† I love the clean geometry and it fits in with a previous sculpture that I made.¬† I had considered a sculpture based on the structure of a honey bee’s wing which would indeed be beautiful but I dismissed it with only a tiny bit of exploration because of my fascination with the hexagonal structure of a honeycomb, I can get lost in the pattern.¬† I worked through a few sketches and tried – unsuccessfully) to make a couple of maquettes.

A study of a real honeycomb

Honeycomb Study

A sketch of what I wanted it to look like internally

Desired Effect

The first maquette made from dyed sugar glass with chicken wire embedded in it

20140209-Maquette 1

The second, made from cardboard & tissue paper covered in tinted PVA

20140209-Maquette 2

That last maquette was based on an idea by my tutor for one of the faces that I did for my Diploma so thank you ‚̧

I knew from the start that I wanted to make the sculpture from glass and I contacted a great glass artist for some advice as to how to get the honeycomb effect because I remembered both intentional and accidental hexagons in her work.¬† I toyed with the idea of a bigger sculpture made from different transparent materials that would stand up to being outdoors but I much prefer glass and I’ve chosen the accidental kind of honeycomb because I really like the effect ( as seen below).

Accidental Honeycomb

The name was easier than I was expecting.¬† I only name my work when I have to unless the name just comes to me.¬† The working title of the project was “The Hive” but in the end, I decided on “Swarm”.¬† The lack of bees in the sculpture will be made all the more poignant because of the name.

I wasn’t entirely sure of how the sculpture should be presented but I finally decided that it would look best mounted on a plinth.¬† It needs to look like it is on display in a museum, as if the bees are gone and we are looking at something that has become extinct.¬† I made the final sketch using modelling wire to do a rubbing for the texture and mounted everything onto black card and then white mounting board.¬† Part of the reason for mounting it was to make it look lovely but practically. it would also prevent it from being damaged in the mailbag and sent it via recorded delivery on 10 Feb.¬† I’ll find out whether or not I’ve made the shortlist in March!

20140109-Final Design

I am so privileged!

I’ve had a lot of really inspiring people in my life.¬† Teachers, friends, mentors, bosses, family members and of course, my lovely husband.¬† They have all been a part of the sum that has made me who I am today and for that, I am grateful.

In both the visual and performing arts, many of those teachers have also been my friends and I would like to honour them by being the best that I can be.

When I was about 23 years old, I managed to find the money to attend two terms of adult education and re-discovered my love of pottery under the guidance of a fabulous ceramicist named William Oakins and produced some really exciting work.  Sadly, an attempt to do the same locally a few years ago was doomed to failure as I had been forgotten about by the college admin staff!

At around about the same time, a wonderful artist called Maureen Howard took me under her wing and made me a part of her family and tried to get me to create art again.¬† I wasn’t really in the right place at the time but I did get back into knitting thanks to her.

There was a long gap then although my friends encouraged and supported me when I eventually started to paint and then a couple of years ago, I joined a local theatre group.  There I have had the pleasure of sharing a stage with and learning from some wonderfully talented people such as Cheryl, Hazel, Glynne, Dave, Vic, Chanelle and others who give me advice, make helpful suggestions, offer constructive criticism and just generally support one another Рincluding me.  One of the things that I love about the group is that it is so welcoming and even when I first joined, I was treated as part of the family.

More recently, I began working with Annie Thomas whose work I adore.¬† Sadly, we don’t work together anymore but we have remained friends and I purchased a couple of pieces last year and they have pride of place in their rooms.¬† Anne gently points out when I’m being a total idiot and has been a great source of strength and support in the last couple of years.

The turbulent journey through the Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Art, Design & Media has been under the care of the wonderful Hazel Terry who has helped me to grow and become an artist.  She has been supportive, critical and informative as appropriate and helped me to understand my own creative process and develop my technical skills, knowledge and confidence.

My latest teacher in the visual arts (more specifically, textiles) is my Panto mummy who has also been a great teacher in the performing arts.¬† Under her guidance, I made a lovely raggy quilt for an imminent new arrival on the Earth (and I don’t mean Aliens!):

20140206-Raggy Quilt for Baby Buckingham

I realize that it will be a long time before I am as adept as she at something as simple as a raggy quilt but what an absolute joy it was to spend the time learning from her.