With a father who lectured at Glasgow School of Art, and a mother who adored and taught history, my work has somehow evolved to entwine the two... and so when I am not drawing maps or working on graphic design projects (usually heritage and maps) I like to think up new ways of working collaboratively on textile projects which somehow reflect the history and heritage of a community. I thrive on working with people. And I love the tactile and colourful nature of textiles.
Not only can a community's heritage be reflected through the textile media used (and this can create a whole project in itself), but also we work as we have been taught, with skills passed down from generation to generation - and likewise during any collaborative projects, we learn from one another.
How it all began While my children were small I helped out at my local Arts Centre Arts Alive in Crickhowell. I helped kids stick selotape and fix feathers while my own children were busy creating all kinds of abstract and colourful artefacts under the skilful direction of Liz Buckler. It was there, under the expert guidance Liz that I was trained (I didn't realise this was happening) in working with a child-centred approach; a way of working that leaves open opportunity for creativity to flourish - no prescriptive "here's one I made earlier"- I learned something gentle..to leave space for insight..to create an atmosphere of curiosity.. 'what happens if I do this?'. My role became clear..to enable, to inspire and to be inspired, to help create an atmosphere of relaxed openness, to give people 'permission' to open to curiosity and exploration. My graphics training enables me to have a vision for an overall outcome which is beautiful and meaningful, but which has room for individual expression in its execution.
As soon as my children went to school I signed up for a degree in Graphic Design at UWCN and so as I studied, I also painted signs around the town and taught English as a foreign language to keep the pennies coming in. At that time Arts Alive began to ask me not only to assist workshops but to devise and run workshops myself. Soon I was going into schools and running holiday workshops at the centre.
I do not consider myself a teacher. I encourage learning through collaboration and give people the permission they need to try things that may not work. Through accidents and "disasters" we make discoveries. We find uses for things that have 'gone wrong',
Within each project I ensure an inclusive approach -mini projects within the whole, suitable for each level of ability, from basic activities for the complete beginner to advanced techniques for the more accomplished, and within that framework again, there is room for the imaginative independent thinker/maker and for the less confident stitcher/maker who likes something more prescriptive to do. The juxtaposition of skilled and naive artistry makes the whole sing with life and soul.
I never ask for perfection, I never unstitch anything, we work in the moment and we see what happens. There is always room for the unknown and unexpected. The opportunity for skill sharing and for inter generational contact is something that is scarce in today's society.
And there is always Tea. and Cake.
“Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent not a singular conception of ability”
― Ken Robinson
― Ken Robinson