What creative project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on various small-scale projects, many involving textiles. However, I’d really describe myself as an ‘ideas person’; I’m constantly designing projects in my head but not so many make it to fruition - often because my imagined projects would take unattainable time, space and resources to realise. It was encouraging to recently notice that the sculptor Christo’s website has a section dedicated to ‘projects not realized’. It’s never really occurred to me to use the Circle sketchbooks to document my mental projects, but maybe I should pursue this…! These are a few of the projects that I have dreamt up: Ludmila’s Broken Tresses, the title of which comes from BDC Pierre’s book Ludmila’s Broken English: a visual commentary on the story of poor young Russian women who sell their beautiful, long blonde hair to be made into extensions for rich westerners; (less deeply) Popcorn Poodle, a giant poodle made from popcorn: an homage to Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog ; and (again connected to food – one of my favourite topics) The Grotto of Gluttony, based on Margate’s Shell Grotto, but instead of being decorated with shells, decorated with chocolates – which I think would make for a fun installation. An extension of this would be to introduce a heat source and film the chocolate melting and the grotto’s collapse!
How does your creative process work?
Over the summer, an artist friend in Cyprus was collecting examples of what people said made them happy - and I told her I was happiest when I’m making. It really doesn’t matter what in particular; it’s the hands-on creative process that I relish. As mentioned above, the creative projects I realise often tend to be small in scale, which is where I think my natural skill set lies. I like to gather together bits and pieces and see what I can make from these that is pleasing – the same applies to much of my cooking as recipes typically annoy me!
What tools or materials could you not live without?
It’s hard to identify just one or two things. Although I enjoy creating relatively simple artwork I like to have lots of different tools and resources to hand. I have a dresser containing shoeboxes bursting with resources, which range from possible collage materials to paints, pens and pastels. I also have bags and bags of fabric and ribbons etc. Actually, I think I would find it impossible to live without fabric –not only do I love gorgeous patterns but I get excited about perfect colour combinations. In addition to the mental projects listed above, I also have quite a collection of unrealized fabric designs that I really should get down on paper…
Where do you search for creative inspiration?
There’s an acrostic I share with my students: ART = Always Right There. My personal view is that everything you see about you in the environment can either be regarded as art or appreciated artistically. This view makes life a rich experience, as even the most mundane place can hold/present appealing features. I once saw an advert in a magazine where a wall was painted such a beautiful shade of blue I burst into tears! I feel very lucky to have grown up in a home full of pattern and colour. Both my parents are accomplished makers in different ways and their work inspires me. I’m not the greatest risk-taker; therefore I would say that Picasso is a bit of hero as he was so very adventurous and massively prolific. One of his quotes is: I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. That’s not me at all, but I would like it to be!
What is the best piece of creative advice you have been given?
Earlier this year I took part in a contemporary drawing workshop with my artist colleague and friend, Sara Dudman. Sara made an excellent comment that really resonated with me, which was: ask yourself: are you your favourite artist yet? I would say that on occasion I am one of my favourite artists but I do need to heed my own advice – again, something I tell my students: love your mistakes and learn from them.