Practice - What is giving your life meaning this week?
Walking on the land here. I am very grateful to currently be living on a beautiful 75-area conservation site in the Dorset countryside. The woods have been full of bluebells and the ponds have been black with an insane amount of tadpoles this year. I’ve been walking to the top of the wildflower meadows most days. From there you can see the sea in the distance, swallows in the sky and rabbits darting between the bushes. Life definitely feels meaningful there.
What do you see as the most important and the most overlooked aspect of your work?
The most important aspect is an acknowledgement of the unconscious – both personal and collective in our psyches. I try to work with the language of the unconscious, which is one of symbols and metaphor. As well as Jungian depth psychology I am very interested in Alchemy as a metaphor for the transformation of the Self and often reference it in the work. Sometimes this will be more hidden if it is in the processes used rather than the final sculptural work.
Do you think your work would be different if you knew no one was ever going to see it except you?
I’d like to say no but I think it’s unrealistic to believe I’m not influenced at all by the thought of others viewing the work. I wonder if perhaps I would experiment with more temporal work alongside the more stable objects/sculptures.
Describe your dream studio situation and what is the biggest thing you think you took for granted about working in your studio ?
My studio is on site where I live so I can still work there daily. It’s already ticking most of my dream studio space requirements. It’s a converted barn - big and light. It transitions from an area for really “messy” work – casting, concrete mixing etc, a mid section where I do clay and tin work, and a clean space at the end for paper work, planning etc (and a comfortable sofa for coffee breaks of course). The only downside is it gets damp and a bit leaky over winter. If I could upgrade it, I’d add insulation and warmth. All my studio spaces have been so cold in winter and this one is no exception. I think artists become expert in winter layering!
What is your best time of the day or night to work and why?
I love the idea of getting up with the sun and working in that fresh energy of the start of a new day. Unfortunately I’m not a cheery early bird. Up until late morning I’m disorientated, groggy and irritable so I save that part of the day for uninspiring computer based admin. Afternoons is when I will usually do most studio-based work and evenings are for reading and research.
What is your studio staple snack?
Not the most exciting but dark chocolate rice cakes are a guilt free staple.
Tell us about something you saw on your one walk of the day
2 fox cubs were the highlight of today’s walk for sure!
If you had to live with one vice for the rest of your life what would it be?
Less of a vice and more of a guilty pleasure but I love a good 90s power ballard/cheesy love song session. I have an illicit playlist that’s saved for car journeys on my own where I can give it the full “sing like no ones listening” treatment. We are talking the likes of Roxette “It must have been love”, Alannah Myles “Black Velvet” and there may even be some Meat Loaf in there but I couldn’t confirm.
What is your favourite podcast?
Currently I’m enjoying The Sculpting Lives Podcast that looks at the lives and work of remarkable women sculptors. You can follow on insta via @sculptinglives – its hosted by Jo Baring and Sarah Victoria Turner.
What is the best gift you've ever given or been given, vs the worst?
The best gift I was given as a child in the 80s was The Animator! It was an electronic version of the Etch A Sketch that “brings drawings to life”. Pretty expensive for what it was - I had to convince my parents that it would be my “big” Christmas gift. Other people have said it was mediocre but I absolutely loved it. I spent so many hours with it and will never forget the break dancing skeleton.
Worst gift – sticking with the childhood theme, it was always disappointing to find a £5 WHSmith voucher in your birthday card. Why restrict someone to stationary when an actual five-pound note would have meant the world could be their shopping oyster?
What is the best film you've ever seen vs the worst?
I don’t think I could commit to a best. I re-watched Only Lovers Left Alive this week – that is definitely a high point scorer. Sexy and stylish, a celebration of art and culture full of gorgeous images and sounds.
Worst – What Women Want. Mel Gibson falls into a bathtub with a hairdryer and electrocutes himself inducing the telepathic ability to hear what women are thinking – which turns out to be mainly thoughts about him. Just don’t ever.
What's the most inspirational place you've been?
A cliché I know but I’m going to say Venice. I’ve travelled there a few times on my own and it’s always made my heart sing. Riding the Vaporetto at night, getting lost down tiny streets in non-tourist areas, the art and architecture.
Which era would you like to have experienced /experience again?
The Renaissance. In Italy preferably, experiencing the rebirth of classical ideas and a surge in new artistic creativity.
What are three trivial things you are missing since lockdown and three things you are enjoying?
- Coffee and eggs on a Friday morning at the best café on the seafront
- Silent family-free hours to myself in the house
- Getting on a train for a London or Bristol day trip / friend meet up.
- Meeting new people. Strangely I’ve been meeting up with more people than usual during lockdown, all be it virtually. I’ve connected with some great people and had really interesting conversations.
- Learning the piano. I can now play Monster Mash – how can that not be a lockdown win?
- Having access to things online that I’m not often able to get to in person like London’s C.G.Jung Club lectures and lots of artist interviews.
What is your favourite hour of the day now? Are you aware of each hour/time more or less now?
Definitely less aware of days of the week – they all seem to merge into a homogenous lump at the moment. Time is structured into clumps because of needing to do homeschooling. Favourite hour is possibly 11pm - a time at which I’m mentally very awake, usually deep in a book and the house is quiet.
What have you learnt, what are you consuming, what are you now expert in - since lockdown?
. . . books! I love reading and learning but I’m doing more than usual. I’ve started an online bookclub via instagram called The Red Book Club that focuses on books that looks at depth psychology, mythology, alchemy, art and the imagination. So I’m always reading a book for that alongside books on alchemy and Jungian psychology for my practice, and then often a novel or art book as well.
. . . the importance a morning practice to mark the start of a new day and to ground myself before joining family. At the moment that practice is; any dream recording from bed, short yoga and meditation session in my room, then personal journaling and maybe a tarot card draw for the day.
I’m now an expert in:
. . . preparing for zoom meetings fully equipped with snacks, beverages and the correct lighting.
Please pick one of the three following prompts as a starting point to make some work using an A5 piece of paper/cloth/whatever you like. There is no restriction on media and feel free to try something different and new.
- Draw a self portrait as a favourite animal doing your favourite daily thing
- Draw the last text you received