My collections serve as both inspiration and materials to work with. This has resulted in me producing quite a varied selection of work; ceramics, textiles, sketches, print and mixed media as this is my natural way of working. The different strands are united by common themes throughout. I constantly make notes and drawings throughout the day for use at a later date. Sometimes an idea can lie dormant for literally years.
I take great inspiration from historical examples of ceramics and textiles as well as the wider sphere of the decorative and fine arts. I have found looking at other disciplines and bringing ideas into my own work really beneficial. An object’s history is of particular interest to me. I love beautiful things for their visual appearance but intrinsic to my idea of beauty and their value are the other histories behind them – who made them and why? Collecting and display has always been an interest to me – from museums and art galleries to people’s front window ‘dioramas’. I visit museums to look at the objects, the arrangements, and the connections between them.
I like to study and sketch historical ceramics, in particular Staffordshire ceramics and English tin glaze or slip decorated plates for their narrative and historical details and timeless beauty. I like the way they reflect real life and people. I have also looked at the wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities where items may have been selected for great rarity, exoticism or may even be fictitious creations. Fictitious creations, cryptozoology, myths and legends and all manner of magical ideas are at the centre of my work. Marvels, miracles and wonders have remained with me into adulthood and the possibility of such has yet to be disproved to me despite my interest in science.
The idea that magical things can happen in secret, amidst our real world is one of the main reasons that I am drawn to puppets, snow domes, nativities, dolls houses and ships in bottles. They seem to have the potential to animate themselves. It is from my desire to create magical worlds on a tiny scale that the walnuts arose. The walnuts are tiny worlds within a nutshell.They contain figures depicting characters or stories, real and fictional, that are in someway special to me.
I like to think that they move around when my back is turned. Sometimes it seems that if you peered in to a walnut for too long you might walk into it. The walnut itself is considered lucky in Eastern European traditions and there is something very tactile about them. When making the walnuts I carefully halve them and complete the scenes with all sorts of materials.The people are all hand dressed with precious scraps of fabric,
I sometimes even have to stitch them. The walnut scene, when complete, is mounted on a sea shell base. Even though I may make several walnuts on the same theme, each one is unique. I delight in assembling the scenes and seeing how each one evolves to be ever so slightly different from the last.
My walnuts depict stories and people that are special to me. In my mind people from popular culture intermingle with historical figures and fictitious characters which I am aware of through literature,radio and film-I find peoples lives fascinating.Animals are often included-I grew up on a farm next to Chester Zoo and could hear the lions roaring and howler monkeys from my bedroom.In this piece I created a ‘family tree’ . From the top (moving clockwise) you will see-Adam and Eve emerging from an egg, Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau, Lotte Hass, Margaret Howe, Sir Patrick Moore, The Romanov Family, St.Francis, St.Joan of Arc, Heidi, St.Jerome. From the top (anticlockwise) Denton Welch,Venus,The Devil, The Nativity, Houdini and Ian Dury, Lawrence of Arabia, Margot Fonteyn and Nureyev, a mermaid, Tarzan, Red riding hood and Sir Captain Scott.The elephant man,a beekeeper and another devil are walking with goats and sheep around the base.