Tag Archives: 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.






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:

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?


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.

Saatchi Online

I’m still in shock.

I registered on Saatchi Online a few weeks ago but couldn’t muster up the courage to actually upload any photographs of my work for sale.¬† Tonight, I made a start.¬† I’ve finished for the night as it is way past my bedtime but I need to gather my energy, I’m buzzing!

Pricing was the biggest challenge, and not for the first time either.¬† Last time I sold some of my work was to help me to raise some of the money that I needed to move 250 miles and I asked the opinions of my friends.¬† This time was easier in a way.¬† I looked at a sample of the works for sale on Saatchi online and several, that to me were utter dross, would have cost me several months’ wages so whilst mine are quite low priced in comparison, they are much higher than I would have valued them (material costs + time).

I blame it all on the stripey onesie that Mr PinQ bought me for my birthday.

The Creative Process

I expect that everybody’s creative process is different.

Mine takes a scientific approach – not particularly surprising given that I am as much a scientist as I am an artist!¬† Let’s face it, that’s nothing new, Leonardo Da Vinci was as much a scientist and engineer as he was an artist and whilst I’m no Da Vinci, I’m in great company.

When I did a graphic design piece, I was lucky enough to have a live project with a real client, My Tai Chi Instructor.  We talked about what she wanted from a poster and off I went and started to do some research.  I looked at a little graphic design work around Tai Chi and some old Chinese ink paintings of bamboo but the majority of the research was about Tai Chi itself and that was the main driver behind the final product.  This is the painting before the text was added:


When I designed the sets for this year’s pantomime, I had some great visual ideas but very early in rehearsals, I discovered that the backstage crew was somewhat limited and then I was told that props had to be fireproof so I revised my design ideas and worked within those limitations and we put on a great show.

I’ve worked in laboratories where designers are remote entities that have no concept of the reality of production and product limitations, I have no patience for that type of thing.¬† The scientist/engineer in me looks for realistic solutions, the business woman looks to be within budget limitations, the mother only cares about the welfare of anyone involved, whilst the artist focuses on aesthetics.

In my final Diploma project, I had decided to go with sculpture and gave it the working title of:¬† “The Human Condition” and when I started my research I looked at the two paintings of that name by Rene Magritte:

The Human Condition 1933 The_Human_Condition_1935

To me, these paintings really capture the inevitability of isolation and the loneliness of death that philosophers talk of; but then, when you look into Magritte’s young life, you realize why.¬† When you have experienced such pain and sorrow, it is easy to find yourself taking this route with your art – whether that be music, sculpture, poetry writing… whatever.¬† Despite that, I didn’t want to follow that path because for me, the human condition is: What separates us from the animals?¬† Again, for me, science is possibly the number one answer and in all fairness, I did not do an art history course.

That said, I found myself particularly drawn to the work of many Polish artists Рagain, no great surprise considering that I am of Polish heritage.  The old Polish artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz:

Magdalena Abakanowicz

and Zladislaw Beksinski

zdzislaw beksinski

evoked the same feelings as singing hymns at Polish Mass, they are strong and powerful and yet full of the years of being downtrodden, of the shifting borders and the sorrow and pain that brought.  Even my Irish husband grasped that in Polish Church.

In contrast, the hope, vitality, vivacity and rebirth of Poland that I feel growing every time I visit her can be seen in the works of young, contemporary Polish artists like Olga Ziemska,

Olga Ziemska stillness-in-motion-olga-ziemska

Jan Kallwejt

Jan Kallwejt

and Malgosia Stepnik.

Malgosia Stepnik

I also found Marti Moreno:

Marti Moreno

Who makes the most amazing sculptures like this one made from nuts (the sort that you use with bolts, not the edible kind!).  I find his use of unconventional and really quite ugly but very strong materials to make such delicate and beautiful sculpture fascinating and hoped to somehow capture a little of that in my work.

In addition to the artistic context, I also looked at philosophy, the media and science and as the project began to develop into cloning, popular culture – such as: A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin and Orphan Black – touching on the ethical element and it was these studies that most strongly influenced my creative process.

The two main things that came out of the artistic studies for me were that I didn’t want to illustrate the sorrow and, most importantly, that I wanted my work to emulate that of those Polish artists.¬† I wanted my work to be strong and powerful like the old Polish artists whilst capturing the vivacity and life of the new.

Perhaps my scientifically based method of getting there is a little unconventional for an artist but get there I did.¬† I achieved everything that I had intended to in my work and I’m jolly proud of that – even if I am a little amazed at the quality and quantity of it!