As this is my first post, I thought I’d explain how I came to be doing this: because if I can do it, anybody can. It is never too late.
As a child I was obsessed with drawing, painting and modelling. I did it all the time (when I wasn’t reading: another passion). This love of art carried through to my teenage years, when I also learnt the rudiments of knitting, shocking, tapestry and patchwork. I also wanted to learn metalwork, but only boys were allowed to take that (it was a Catholic school in the 70s; what more can I say? I purposely failed domestic science in revenge.)
i was very academic, which at that time worked against my desire to do art. I dropped it as a subject when I was 15 in order to do ‘proper’ O-levels, and although I carried on doing bits and pieces, the impulse to create got buried. Forward several years and a PhD. later, and I started a career in academia, teaching students and writing heavily specialised books and articles that very few people have read (or would want to, come to that).
Until everything changed. I was diagnosed with ME, and had to stop working. I was fatigued, depressed, and anxious about the future. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck at home watching daytime tv and worrying about my health. So I started playing with colouring-in books – the intricate adult kind. But me being me, I quickly decided I didn’t want to colour in somebody else’s pictures: I wanted to draw my own. Once I got the confidence to do so, it was like a wall that had gone up decades ago came crashing down, and I began to create compulsively. I feel as if my life has gone full circle, and I’ve gone back to being a child again, absorbed in making things out of glue, paper and old boxes.
I’ve approached it in some ways like I would an academic project. I’ve read books, studied endless YouTube videos and pored over artists’ blogs. I’m teaching myself the technicalities, and experimenting with different media to find my own point of view, and the techniques that work for me. Much to my own surprise, I’ve found I love working with metal (I really should’ve been allowed to join that class all those years ago), and so I’ve moved to focus on assemblage and 3D art. I love upcycling, and transforming old discarded objects into something….well, probably not strictly beautiful, but ‘interesting’.
My academic interests definitely inform my point of view. I’m a specialist in Gothic, science fiction and women’s writing. I’ve always been interested in the weird, the wonderful and the bizarre; and also with the marginal. The mainstream is boring: the edges is where it’s at. I create voodoo dolls and impossible saints, and seek to find ‘- in the words of the playwright John Webster – the skull beneath the skin’.
In the end, this enforced career break has been a blessing in disguise. It forced me to get off the treadmill of my normal life and discover, in my fifties, an ability that I didn’t think I had. I actually feel privileged to be embarking on this journey At a more mature age – I’m not trying to make a living out of what I do, and I have no pretensions. I’m just having fun, and learning as I go along. If you like what I’m creating, that’s a bonus.