Artist StatementTravel has been the main source of inspiration and has influenced the direction of my work over the years. Some countries, it's people and the landscape have contributed to the imagery, concepts in my work. The investigation of new materials and technology has allowed for experimentation. While earlier works showed the use of paint and stitchery as mark making, recent work has involved the density of population in East London and it's rich cultural diversity. Place and living in the surroundings is an important element in my work. The physical and emotional aspect of feeling and experiencing rather than an artificial portrayal of the environment. Density of surface using layering of material to create a dimensional effect related to the density of population. Some work was also politically related e.g. The Wait 2009, "Exclusion" 2006. These works were created as a result of living in E.London where over 200 languages are spoken. Technical skills often using traditional application is combined with new technology. I often take workshops inorder to improve my skills and this allows for another way of thinking and working. The business and commercial area of London has recently inspired the new body of work. Handmade felting using translucent material is combined with digital photography and printing to create works that relate to the new development of this area which has recently been bought by the Chinese for business purposes. The relocation back to Baltimore after 12 years is exciting. Baltimore has a large Art Community and the abandoned buildings have some amazing art. I would like to work on a project showing the contrasts of 2 cities one that has a smaller diverse community, the other, a Major World City that is large and has the most diverse Group of people living there.
I was born in Kenya and lived there until the age of 21yrs.It took me 7 yrs to save my airfare to go to the UK to study Art. I lived in various parts of London from the East End to West London during the 60's and London was a very exciting City to live. I did my Foundation Course at Sir John Cass College in E. London. During the course of my first term at Manchester College of Art I decided to take up Embroidery instead of Painting as I found the tactile contact with materials textural and seductive. Britain is one of the only countries in the world where you can receive a (BA Hons) Degree in Embroidery.
I used paint with thread during the 60's which was unheard of in the field of traditional Embroidery at this time. The work was large incorporating stitch with canvas. A Group Exhibition at the Commonwealth Art Gallery in Kensington,London, created a remark by a journalist who said "how dare this woman call this Embroidery, it is a load of rubbish! when I overheard this comment I was too scared to say that this was my work.
During the early 1970s I worked part-time as an art lecturer at the Ulster College of Art in Belfast, N.Ireland. It was a difficult time to live here because of the IRA conflict I was often stopped and searched as I travelled frequently from Manchester, to Belfast.
In 1981 I emigrated to the USA and worked as an artist in residence for various Art Councils e.g. Delaware,S. Carolina, Kentucky, Utah,Idaho, Nevada and the State of Maryland. I also lived in Detroit during the 90's where I lived with an Artist Community in a large renovated church. The studios were large and spacious thus enabling for innovation Installations. I enjoy what I do and have not worked full time. Although financially this has been difficult the decision made at an early stage in my life has paved the way for an investigative and challenging career in Art.
After several years in the USA I returned to E.London where I lived for 12 years. The works executed during this period related to the rich cultural life of the diverse communities who live in the Borough of Newham. I also formed an Art Group with 2 of my students that involved Adults with Physical and Learning Disabilities. This Group was formed as a result of the closing of one of the Centres after 30 years.
I have travelled extensively and these travels have influenced the direction of my work over the years. Some of the travels have included International residencies I.e. a UNESCO Award to Nigeria, other residencies have included Mojacar,Spain, Bangor,India, France.
I worked at Styal Women's Prison in the North of England and in the 2000's worked in a Women's Refuge in N. Wales, Havering Borough,Essex and The Midlands, UK. These residencies have resulted in Solo Exhibitions and a National Endowments for the Arts Award in Delaware which involved working in a Shelter for the Homeless.
My work is mixed media using hand and machine embroidery, collage and digital photography. At present I am experimenting with Nuno Felting. This is a process using one layer of material instead of several layers. The translucency of material is appealing and reflective.
I have participated in several Solo and International Exhibitions I.e. UK,USA,Japan, The Netherlands, Germany,Belgium,India,Kenya, S.Korea, Italy, N.Ireland,Australia and New Zealand. At present I have relocated to Baltimore, USA. I like living in Baltimore because of its close proximity to Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia and it's artistic lively supportive community.