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I have concentrated on Museum Artefacts, but new works are evolving that are about people and their lives in the past; my work evolves and creates itself naturally. I enjoy the materials I work with : beeswax, natural fibre, rag are all tactile and carry that ancient feel, and I like to feel part of what I create.
I do not intend for things to be dark or challenging. My interests are purely in our ancient past, folklore and history. Maybe Britain is dark; who we are as a nation and how we arrived where we are today is important to me in order to understand where we might be in the future - not to mention where we are in the world, connected to all the other rich traditions, landscapes and people. Most of my research has been done from looking in museum collections and books. It has led me to many fields in the hunt for our past, from geography, geology, the migrations of people and their traditions through to climate and finally cave art, folk art, and the history of our struggle for freedom against religious and political intolerance. If someone sees a mask created out of bone by a tribe in a valley of India, why does that hold, for many people, more power than a head dress found in Derbyshire that pre dates the mask by 10,000 years? To me the Starr Carr head dress is the essence of shamanic ritual in Britain. What I have tried to do as an artist is to bring the images to the fore by recreating them for the modern viewer. By doing this I hope to refresh their memories or, by chance, tap in to the human subconscious that connects us all, reminding the viewer that they are from a rich tradition, a spiritual one, just as deep as that of any other culture.
As an artist one cannot just research one’s own limited physical borders. Where Britain ends and Scotland begins, or where Norway, France, Holland are separated by man-made structures, those borders did not exist in the past - they are a concept. Our ancestors did not “cross” anything, they just moved freely and ideas moved with them. One tribe would learn to respect another, particularly when food was short. Their mere survival is part of what makes my artwork tick. To understand my art, you may have to take a trip back in time, whether that is to the 1600s or the Ice Age, or perhaps further into the plains of Africa to the Rift Valley. Only in recent years have we begun to understand our own very ancient history. The discovery of ancient hand prints in caves in Spain and France happened over a hundred years ago, but only in the last three years have archaeologists realised that because of their size they are made by women not men, This is because of the gender bias of the history establishment, part of the authority that we as a people have fought against and are still fighting against. Recognising which people, as well as why people created wall paintings or bone carvings is part of the process. In some ways, history is in the process of being re-written through scientific study and the ability to look closer and more clearly at archaeology. We are no longer putting our own perspective onto finds, but opening up the possibility that an artist of the past might not have been a strong warrior male, but a woman or a disabled tribe member, whose contribution to the tribe was to make the votive offering of the hunt specifically because they could not hunt themselves. The artist was born. Through reconstructive archaeology I have learned just how long it takes to create as a cave dweller created in the Northern hemisphere; it is hard work in the cold. Stories and songs must have been vital to keep our ancestors’ spirits up; that leads into a whole new field, story-telling, a uniquely human expression.