Not many people can say they have spoken to their ‘biggest fans!’ but mine only went and emailed me the other day! Thanks Jemma and Matt!
I thought I would put parts of our chat on here that I thought others might find useful… Enjoy!
1. What is your favourite piece and why?
My favourite piece has to be 'Susan', as I feel so emotionally attached to it. I made that work when a difficult situation was going on in my family and I was struggling to process what was happening. And so naturally that started to feed into my work. The making was really intense and it took over 1000 hours to make, over the space of 6ish months and so in a way everything I was feeling at the time was put into that sculpture and contained within it. It’s also the only work that I have created that I have allowed visually personal elements to play a part in, as I have heat transfer printed diary entries and family photos onto some of the fabric parts. They are subtle but you can see them in the close up images on my website. It’s also the piece I made for my first solo show in Corridor Gallery in Brighton, so that was super exciting!
2. How do you go about designing and finding materials for your pieces?
The ideas will always come first. So the pieces will often come from a certain feeling and I will then decide the material to use that is most appropriate. More recently I have placed more significance on where the materials have come from, as it adds to the meaning of the work. So I have just done a project with the National Trust where I made fabric moulds and cast the insides with plaster, but all the fabric I used was donations of half-finished crafts projects from older relatives and friends. It was important that the materials came from women as I was aiming to get domestic crafts projects into a fine art exhibition, to celebrate the skills involved.
3. What are the main topics you are trying to discuss in your work?
I try to discuss a number of things in my work. Some pieces, as just mentioned before, are about personal situations but as a wider picture they are often about the struggles we face as humans. A lot of the work is naturally read as being about my experience as a woman as I am a female artist but honestly I want the work to speak to everyone. I suppose it taps into body image too, and how we feel about our bodies and how we experience them. And also because of my choice of materials, it also speaks about the conflict between art and craft and the woman as a maker.
4. How do you want people to react to it? (In a purely superficial sense, without any prior knowledge of your work’s intentions)
The main thing I want from my work is a reaction. I have always felt as an artist it is our job to make work that gets people’s attention and a reaction, whether that be positive or negative (which I have had plenty of!) as it gets people talking. I want people to feel a gut reaction when they see my bodily pieces, to almost feel the work within their own body when they look at it.
My work seems to get quite emotional responses, as when you see it in the 'flesh' (no pun intended!); the scale of it can be quite overwhelming. In a way I want people to have a personal interaction with it, if it relates to anything they have ever felt and interpret it in their own way. But then for it to bring everyone together, to almost say that we all have to work through human stuff some times.
The best/worst (depending how you look at it) reaction I have ever had to my work was when I put my work in Corridor Gallery. A woman came into the gallery and she was so angry. She had taken the work as a personal attack as she had just finished having treatment for cancer and thought the work was making tumours etc. beautiful. She was so emotional already from what she was going through that the visceral impact of the work had tapped straight into that and caused that reaction. It is an uncomfortable position to be in as an artist, and I’m still not sure about how I feel about that response.
5. Why do you use the kind of materials that you do? Why do you choose to work with textiles as opposed to anything else?
To start with I used to work in textiles as I just enjoyed the material and the processes you could do with it, however I have recently realised, when thinking about my practice deeper on my MA, that it’s more than that. Textiles I feel, is the best material to use to portray human feelings successfully. We have so many associations with fabrics as humans, as we use and wear them every day, and they bring us comfort etc., that we read fabrics as human in quality before they are even worked into a piece of artwork. Also, I have always been interested in the Craft/Fine Art argument, and have done a lot of research into women’s domestic crafts and the struggle they have faced to be accepted in the Fine Art realm. So I use domestic processes, like stitching and beading and create work that is far from the attractive crafts pieces that would normally be made in the home; pieces that are often quite repulsive at first glance. People often still don’t know where to place my work though sometimes as it is textiles and I still struggle to get it accepted in a wide range of Fine Art Exhibitions.