It has been a long journey to reach this point in my professional career which began as a figurative painter. As with many female practitioners, my career was interrupted by creating a family.
The journey probably started when I was 7 when I told my very old grandmother that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I sent her a postcard, on one side was a drawing of people queuing to buy bread and the other the message; it was the end of WWII and food was rationed.
At school, my greatest commitment was the art room, and the art master, Christopher Cash, recognised my potential and encouraged me to go from school to art college, which I did via a time in Paris, life drawing and learning French. There I also had the privilege of getting to know Bob and Liza Sainsbury who generously gave me access to their private collection. I believe that seeing the work in the raw of the then unknown Bacon and Modigliani inspired me to work really hard at my drawing skills, so much so that Bernard Dunstan RA awarded me the drawing prize when I left the Byam Shaw School of Art. I continued to paint and draw as my family grew and experimented with different media – collage, watercolour, oil, pastel and ink.
Why did I go on to work in three dimensions?
I had been searching for the essence of my identity, and finally, through sculpture, was able to grasp the simplification of what I saw so that my work was able to become less figurative. I had always wanted to portray the luminosity in what I saw; hence I left gaps between brush strokes on canvass and a roughness in my drawings; working in clay I resisted a smoothness of form, but instead insisted that my fingerprints should express the texture. Glass has become a perfect material for me to use as I can see through it as much as I want to. The three-dimensional forms a natural method of expression of my vocabulary.
Still unsure of myself, I went to university, majored in Art History and then magic happened – I found two whole years to study for a masters degree in creative art at the Farnham campus of UCA and there I met Colin Webster who helped me to answer some questions such as why was I doing trying to be an artist? What does abstract art mean? What is conceptual art? I was by now in my mid-seventies and still lacking self-awareness. These were the most difficult years of my career, but my work opened up. It developed its own personality and glass allowed the ideas to shine through with a positivity that had been lacking.
Now, working with glass, metal and stone, opportunities have opened up for me that I never dreamt of. I now use my skill as a draftsman and my visual capacity to use what exists in the gaps between forms. I need to set myself challenges as the physical effort of sculpture is essential to me and learning basic chemistry and physics exciting, better than cooking!
Glass has unique and opposite characteristics. It can be durable, fragile, strong, transparent and opaque; it sustains varying temperatures but can become fluid or solid and allows light to influence its colour.
Working with the combination of glass and metal, I can now build three-dimensional forms. I can use the kiln to make the cast shapes, I can grind into the glass and I can use its unique qualities to achieve the fluidity and strength for which I had been searching. By using the reflections from the mirrored metal the shapes repeat themselves.