Artist & Facilitator

I am a freelance artist based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria in the North West of England. I have worked within the performing and fine arts for 20 years. Initally I worked within the theatre as a performer and on production. Then moving on to a street circus group that performed around the UK. I did my degree BA(hons) Fine Art at Uclan. For fifteen years I have collaborated with local arts organisations, worked on youth community projects and in schools running a variety of creative projects. I am currently a member of North Lonsdale Embroiderers Guild, Blue Tarn, a rural womens artists collective and Trident Textiles, based in Furness. I am always working on a variety of small scale projects including photography, textile and mixed media. Although my favourite thing is meeting and talking to interesting people!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Exhibition Comes Down!

Whilst I was doing my invigilation stints at Artgene I managed to learn a little more about their Design Cafe.  It is really interesting and would love to join them on Sat 11th Dec for their walk, it starts at the cemetery and onto Sandscale Hawes Lousey Point for a meal in one of the black huts!  A few weeks just  before that artist Sophie Mellor will be doing a presentation about how her project in and around Barrow has gone. That is in the cafe itself on Wed 17th November at 7pm.  The concept of the cafe and activities are described in the following link;

However,  we took the exhibition down today.  We packed the photographs away carefully in paper with labels.  They may be going onto another venue.  So watch this space for that.  It is always sad when taking down an exhibition or display that you have been involved in, even when not as an artist.  It marks the end of a period of intense activity which usually was extremely interesting and involved bonding moments!  Although there was problems along the way in regards to my prints and narrative, it does not detract from the enjoyment I had from being involved in the project.  I also had the opportunity to meet new people and strengthen old acquaintances.

On with the new projects now and finishing off little textile projects that have been ongoing at home.  I have to finish off scanning my old 35mm slides onto the computer so I can prove I have done stuff in the past!! I have been asked to give a talk at the college to students about work since my degree.  Scanning the slides take ages and I have so many!!  I wish I could afford to send them off to be done by a company somewhere!  Plus they are a bit dusty despite being packed away quite carefully! I have tried blackmailing Nic, my husband, but he is not having it! 

Oh and nearly forgot we are off to Manchester in two weeks for the weekend and to see Linkin Park in concert.  Looking forward to a baby free weekend!  Oops did I just say that! Bad mother!  Although here is a photo taken by Nic of Alex, 2 years old, on a ride on the pier at Blackpool on Sunday.  As you can see he loved it!! The lights were good but the same as ever!!

Scream if you want to go faster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Article in The Northwest Evening Mail!

Well the exhibition made it into the paper but got my name and Alex's name wrong!  The article written was ok but not quite accurate either.  The photographer who took the photo's spent a long time trying to get pictures of my son pointing at the exhibits!  This is Nic's photo of him doing the same. It was still nice though.  At least he had his favourite 'digger' coat on!!  Plus he was with me on the walk for my project!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Exhibition Narrative

As I could not display my narrative for the exhibition I thought I would put it here for people to read. Thanks to Nic for getting photos of collage at the gallery and of the preview evening.

The Old Line
Artistic Statement

Come rain or shine my mother and I would cycle the old line after work. We would start at Buccleuch Dock and cross the causeway at Cavendish Dock onto the line which is now the Westfield Nature Trail and finish at Roa Island. Along the path we would meet many people cycling, walking the dog, fishing or jogging. Over time we would recognise people and say hello and see new faces discovering the line.

This whole area has been given a new lease of life. Now the path is extended at both ends, the walker or cyclist can find themselves amongst an Industrial landscape with deep rural hills and a stunning shoreline. Seasons come and go and show us what nature has to offer. Sea birds feeding in the marsh, berries on the bushes and bees being busy.

I decided to revisit the path on foot with my camera for this project and look again with fresh eyes. I met many interesting people that were willing to be photographed and chat to me. The collage of portrait, landscape and detail are all connected and give an insight into what the path has to offer and the people who enjoy it.

Photographic Collage Narrative

The fisherman was at Cavendish Dock with two friends and had been there from early morning. They fish there often and know the area well. They catch Carp on a regular basis and told me how they use their bait. They caught a few when I was talking to them. At the point when this fish was caught, the traffic on the road to one side and people walking by all came to a standstill waiting to catch the glimpse of the Carp. Only a small one this time, although I am told the dock does contain carp as big as 30lbs.

I met the cyclist by the gas terminal, his new bike set aside he was sat on a bench he had knocked up, eating bright orange Sea Buckthorn berries he had picked along the path. His hands were stained from berries he so obviously enjoyed. They were everywhere along this stretch, bursting open as they were so ripe, with their sweet citrus aroma filling the air around. He told me how he uses the path every day and likes to sit on his bench and look out across the marsh to the sea. He knew a great deal of the history of the ‘old line’.

I was very lucky to meet the boatman and his dog Alfie. I was on the sand by the Roa Island causeway car park photographing an old skeleton boat, when he appeared from his boat. The tide was out and he had his waders on and his little dog in a bag, saving him from sinking into the muddy sand. Alfie, a Jack Russell is a rescue dog and was a little nervous, he explained to me. The man had bought his boat to do up and eventually sail around the Scottish Isles. He told me how much work he had done so far but that it was taking longer than he anticipated. He works on the boat every day.

Friday, 15 October 2010

TRACES Exhibition at Artgene

Been taking part with Signal Films, as one of 12 people, in a series of digital art photography workshops over the last couple of weeks.  Artist Rebecca Lupton, who is based is Manchester, ran the workshops.  The theme given was Traces with a view to Barrow and regeneration.  I decided to take photos along the 'old line' path that I used to cycle a lot.  The path has now been extended at the Buccleuch Dock end and at the other you can carry on to Roa Island. 

I took photos over 2 days, one day walking with Nic and Alex, using our compact camera, very sunny afternoon too.  The other using Signal Films Slr camera, it was an dull and overcast day with showers.  Photos from both days were used in the final selection for the exhibition.  I met people along the path and asked if I could take their picture and most obliged.  I also took detail shots of foliage and structures.  I liked the cross-over of Industrial and nature on the path and tried to capture that. 

Technically alot of my pictures could have been better with use of a tripod and setting it up better beforehand.  However, I was walking miles with a two year old and I often had to just take the photo quickly so as not to hold people up.  Taking pictures of strangers was new to me!

Back at the office and looking at the photographs for editing was difficult, because I had taken 'snapshot' style photos I ended up with over 800 to select from.  I decided to display portrait along with detail images.  I chose three of my favourite people and associated detail.  Apart from cropping, no photoshop was used on the images.

Displaying my work was always going to be slightly tricky as I had opted to make it into an informal collage using gallery pins.  I wanted the combination to look right and flow for the eye.  I think this affect was achieved in the end.  I would have preferred to have had my narrative displayed with the collage but it was decided that it would have looked out of place alongside the other artists work.  I was pleased overall.

The exhibition preview was Thursday 14th October, it was well attended and people seemed to enjoy the event and the talk by guest artist Miskha Henner.  The exhibition is at Artgene in the Nan Tait building, Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness until the 24th October 2010.  It is free and open to all.

Click here for Traces Blog

Monday, 19 July 2010

Busy Summer!

I have away camping and to London to visit family over the last few weeks so I have not had much time to work.  I have even missed a few guild meetings because of this!  However, I did manage to make a summer skirt from a piece of remnant material in my stash for going away with.  Just a simple 6 panel a-line with a side zip and narrow waist band.  I used a vintage 1970's pattern.  Looks good I think.

While in London I managed to get to the Tate Modern to get a glimpse of new work, which is always inspiring.  What was really great though was that Nic and I got a private tour of the Houses of Parliment.  Nic's cousin Andy works in IT for the House of Lords!! We had drinks on the House of Lords cafe terrace overlooking the river!! Got some good photos too!

Another thing Andy's wife Fanoulla has just set up a charity in memory of her mother who died last year.  It is called 'Forget-Me-Not' and it is in aid of Dementia.  She has upcoming events like a Gala and Ball.  She is needing stuff to raffle.  So I reckon I must be able to make a few things for her to raffle.  Plus I am currently designing and making a little evening bag for her.  It is made from violet silk and I am embroidering a 'William Morris' inspired woodland image with forget-me-nots on it.  Inside I am going to put this quote from 'Evangaline' by Longfellow. 

"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,

Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels."

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Exhibitions & Sewing

The collaborative of work including my brothers through Signal Films had opened on Thursday evening with the preview.  We all turned up like the Dingles or the Clampetts as my brother says and ate and drank everything!  It was great.  Eddys work was used in the publicity material and was in the Evening Mail.  It was the best there and so many others thought too.  Although everyones work was great. 

Its on at Forum 28 until the end of next week I think.

I have also started looking at the photos I had been taking of things around Barrow to see how I can ake work from them.  I have made a new 'mock up' handbag using on the boats in the channel.

So I took this photo of the boat in the foreground and made simplified sketches until I was happy with an overall design.  The boat although not entirely like the original was clearly the same.  Then I set about looking through my stash of scraps of vintage fabric to make up the boat in applique form.  Then I cut out the bag using my adapted pattern.  I chose Laura Ashley white spot on blue fabric for the bag itself.  Using 'misty fuse' I stuck the fabric boat onto the bag.

Then I free-motion embroidered onto the boat and fabric with my sewing machine using cotton thread to animate it to life.

The resulting bag is cute and very usable.  I lined it in a heavy cotton as the outer material is not very thick.  I included a 'wash label' and design label.  Although these are old fashioned and don't really suit it.  I would like new labels.

I used a magnetic fastening on the tab opening but sewed a large vintage red button on the outside for decoration.  I also used vintage buttons for the tyres.

Just right for a little jaunty shoulder bag for essentials.  Plus it is a boat that exists in Barrow.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

What a lovely day!

Went for a quick drive around Walney Island today in the sunshine while Alex slept in his car seat.  He was shattered as he had stayed at my mam's last night with his cousins.  We drove up to the lighthouse carpark but did not get to walk up to up as Alex was still asleep.  I took a few photos of where I was able to see the light house. Got some of of Piel Castle from there too.  My little camera is not good enough for far off shots unfortunately.  I now want to go back and do it again with the better camera and Alex awake!

Walney Channel from the Promenade

Walney Lighthouse on South Walney (image taken from internet)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Photographs Around Barrow

Today I went around Barrow getting quick images for my 'Barrow Bags' idea.  The photograph is a starting point to make a 'iconic' Barrow landmark into a textile image.  A fun image.  There are lots of beautiful scernery around the area which I could use later but I want to try out town and dock stuff first.  My brother Eddy came with me and took a few himself.  He has done well with his own photographs and work lately through Signal Films of Barrow.  He is part of a collective exhibition at Forum 28 next week.  He has a short animation about a 'brain'.  One of the images is of Birkrigg Stone Circle with added extras in 3D.  It is really cool.  This image was used for publicity.  I want him to email me it so I can put it on here with a link.  In my Radio Cumbria diary I mentioned my brother and I doing the workshops and this is the result. The exhibition is called 'Classics vs Futurists' at Forum 28 starting Friday 21st May to Saturday 29th May.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Too Much To Do!

What a busy family we are................

I have been really busy with all kinds of projects and trips.  Skiing in Morzine went brilliantly, we arrived in time for lots of new snow.  Alex loved it.  Our friends who were new to skiing had a brilliant time too and are going again!  Just when I thought no one read my blog, BBC Radio Cumbria got in touch asking me to do 'Little Cumbria' based on my blog!  So I tootled off to the studio to record a week in the life of me.  It is not direct from my blog but certainly includes crafty things.  I had to laugh at my broad accent though.  They sent me a cd of the recordings after it was aired. See link for the full show.

Link to Little Cumbria Monday Show
Link to Little Cumbria Tuesday Show
Link to Little Cumbria Wednesday Show
Link to Little Cumbria Thursday Show
Link to Little Cumbria Friday Show

I also attended the Embroidery Guild North West Regional Day in Manchester with fellow guilders.  There were stalls selling a variety of goodies.  Two speakers plus a committee guild update.  Competitions and work to look at.  The lunch was rather nice too.  I really enjoyed it.  I had to try and finish off some pictures for our guild exhibitions plus dig out some old ones.  I did not manage to really do that as time was against me.  I did find an old fashioned tree embroidery i did years ago but it did not go into the exhibition either.  Below shows the lichen embroidery I had started, I also madel ime green lichen on water soluable fabric to go over the blue but got fed up!!

I am now back onto making housey project stuff like doorstops, cushions and tablecloths.  I have found a lovely arts and crafts pattern book which would make lovely finishing touches.  I really want to explore my kooky Barrow bags.  Images of Barrow appliques onto tote bags or anything really.  I might be able to sell them through the tourist info shop or made in cumbria.  Need to make up a batch though.  Images will be more like cranes, subs, lighthouses, seagulls and fun local sights rather than the obvious lakeland scenes.  I have made a couple of mock ups in material scraps. 

Other family stuff have involved taking Alex with his cousins to Ducky Park Farm at Flookburgh with Nic and my parents.  It was a great day they loved it. Especially the tractor ride and the animals!  Alex also had a trip on the Lil' Ratty at Ravenglass and totally loved that too, so he is now tractor and choo choo mad!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

New Sewing Machine

Just managed to open and check out my new super duper sewing machine!  It is great but a bit complicated so it is going to take a while for me to get used to it especially after the old one i had!

It is a Brother Innovis 350 SE, it is the same as the 400 but apparently this one is cheaper.  It should do above and beyond my needs at the moment.  What I am hoping is that I can improve on my free motion embroidery and get to use special designs on my home deco stuff.  It has over 200 stitches!!!!!  There is a internal panel that i can lift up and choose a pattern by inputing the code into the computer bit!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Catching Up Time

I have not written anything for a while for a couple of reasons.  The computer broke, then my husband is on it all evening every evening and I have been very busy.  I have been to the North Lonsdale Embroidery Guild a few times and love it!  Started my textile art class at Kendal Brewery Arts Centre and loving that.  Been doing digital art workshops with Signal Films in Barrow.  Been doing lots of outdoors stuff with my brother like ghyll scrambling up Church Beck in Feb in the snow.  I fell in and it was rather cold to say the least but I felt like a hero afterwards.

My son Alex turned two and started pre-school for one morning a week and has to wear a uniform.  Looks really cute but was not happy about it! As seen here afterwards at his yiayia's house.  He loved the nursery though.

It was my husbands 40th birthday last Friday and we went to Liverpool for the weekend.  I hired a swanky appartment in Liverpool One.  We had a couple of great nights out and did a bit of shopping too.  The best was seeing the Mark Rothkos at Tate Liverpool though.  I love the old bits of Liverpool mixed with the new!

In two weeks we are skiing with friends in Morzine in France for a week so really looking forward to that.  The Winter Olympics has fired up our juices and we really excited.  So as you can see I have been busy.....ooooh I almost forgot to mention my new sewing machine arrived and it is great.  A Brother Innovis 350 SE.  Love it.  It is my 40th birthday present 3 years early from my husband.  So I m super busy with that too.  I have a couple of exhibitions coming up through the guild.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Snow, snow, snow....

We have had lots of lovely snow and my 22 month old got to experience it properly this year before we go skiing at Easter.  He tried out all his new gear whilst playing on the Glebe in Bowness-on-Windermere last weekend.  I have finished his quilt at last too!  There has been no QG or EG due to snow so bored!