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This painting was inspired through my connection to dance and dancers. Media chosen are inks and tempera, employing a scraping technique that enables using as few marks as possible. Fluidity of movement was my intention in this work.
I studied ceramics, with life drawing, at Southampton College of Art, (1971-1974). Drawing was part of my childhood experience after watching my father doing pencil caricatures. I spent two years as a decorator at the Jersey Pottery (1968-1970), before going to art college. It was during this period in Jersey, that I also learned how to throw pots. I was a professional potter for 20 years, firstly in Tisbury, Wiltshire, and subsequently at Bull Mill, Crockerton, an artists’ commune supported by the current Lord Bath in the 60s. I was commissioned to produce a 24 piece dinner service for Lord Bath. Salisbury Museum has some of my pottery on display. I continued life drawing and painting during my years as a potter. Dancers were a decorative motif on individual pieces, such as large bowls and plates, so transferring ideas and images to paper and canvas when I came to Leeds is a continuum of my time as a potter.
I completed a Community Dance Leaders course, in creative dance, at the Laban Centre, (1989-1991), after which I taught community dance, and also a primary children’s Art Into Dance workshop where children were encouraged not only to experience dance and movement, but also to draw images of each other in action. Despite being challenging, the children embraced this concept. Therefore, dance and figures are my main subject matter.
I have been involved in choreography for musicals Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and Fiddler on the Roof for Sinai Synagogue.
In 1982, I produced posters for a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, for Studio Theatre, Salisbury, depicting jazz musicians, as well as performing. Dance, drama and painting continue to be intertwined in my life. My first degree was English with Drama at Bretton Hall (1996-1999). The physicality of the drama fed into the way I paint, and continues to do so.
My style is expressionistic. I use a mixed media approach: inks, tempera, PVA glue and diluted bleach. I work on paper and canvas. I rarely use brushes, preferring to scrap, or incise, into the paint. This technique offers a looser image which enhances a sense of movement in works featuring dancers.
My partner is a dancer (Founder of Phoenix Dance Company) whom I have sketched in rehearsal, many times, and use these images in some of my work. Movement is a key feature in most of my paintings. Still images of figures are a contrast which I am developing, for example: figures in stretching poses for dance warm-up, or dancers preparing for movement; and figures in poses from life drawing classes. I continue to explore and experiment with ideas and techniques.
I worked with psychiatric patients at The Retreat, York, running informal art sessions. It was during this time, in 2015, that some of my clients encouraged me to paint again.
I was also co-facilitator during art therapy sessions on the Acorn Unit at The Retreat, which offered an insight into how important art, and creativity, can be in aiding the healing process. I was able to ‘play’ and experiment during these sessions which is when I discovered the incising through paint idea. Clients on the unit began to see how ‘playing’ with ideas, in a loose and free way, helped dispel fears about not being able ‘to do’ art. I learned so much, working with the professional art therapist, about sensitivity towards the clients in terms of building confidence, to express personal trauma, in a safe environment that was non-judgemental. It also helped me to be less anxious about making my marks on blank paper. Prior to this I have been working with inks, sometimes incorporating gold acrylic, on paper.
Deciding to try working on canvas was a result of encouragement from my daughter, who had been working on canvas for some time. Also working on a larger scale offers different challenges, and using a mixed media approach opens up other possibilities.
I am currently working towards a launch for my new wooden studio in the garden. Afterwards, I shall be staging small exhibitions or 'open studio', following on from the exhibition at Sinai Synagogue which was well received and resulted in sales.
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