Tell us about your background? Professional & personal
I consider myself to be a renegade potter and craftivist (a person who combines craft with activism). I have also been a community/public artist for 15 years. I graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a first class degree in sculpture in 1991. I have 3 children, live in Chiswick and have spent the last 10 years covering the entire outside of my house in radical mosaics. I even have a glass tiled covered truck to go with it.
Recent years have seen me consumed by large-scale mosaic projects. I have produced two life size elephants for the London and Milan Elephant Parades, and a life sized mosaic horse for Cheltenham Horse Parade. My most recent piece, now on permanent display at the Museum of Liverpool, depicts suffragette Mary Bamber.
What is your proudest achievement?
Definitely my 3 children – I really think that having children and being a full time working mother is a huge achievement. Work wise though, I was incredibly proud of my most recent project which was working in a very poor barrio called Miravalle which is on the outskirts of Mexico City. I was there for one month and worked with the community to mosaic their local centre. Much of the mosaic was made using recycled plastic bottle lids.
Artistically I greatly admire Niki De Saint-Phalle – she is an incredible artist who created large scale mosaic environments, yet rarely gets a mention in the art history books. But my number one for inspiration has to be Sylvia Pankhurst, the most radical of all the Pankhurst family that did so much to give women the vote.
What made you decide to make a living from art?
I don’t think I have much of a decision about this. I believe being creative is essential to my living a happy and mentally stable life. Nevertheless, making a ‘living’ from art does tend to create its own problems. It’s quite stressful being self-employed – but not something I would ever give up.
Tell us a bit about how you use your art as a form of protest?
I not sure I would say I use my art as a protest, more of a way of raising consciousness about issues I care deeply about. Part of my house is dedicated to political prisoners in the USA who I write to. They are called the Angola 3 (Angola being the name of Lousianna State Prison), and have been held for 40 years in solitary confinement. I have another wall created in memory of my dear friend Luis Ramirez, who was executed by the State of Texas for a crime I believe he was innocent of.
Make sure you really enjoy what you are doing as starting a business involves a lot of hard work. My father always told me ‘if you find something you like doing you’re lucky, but if you find someone to pay you for what you like doing, then you’re extremely lucky’.
What would you like to achieve over the next 12 months?
In business, I would like my new trademark ‘Mad In England’ range to sell really well so that I could concentrate on my community work. I’m currently trying to set up a project working with local people in Acton to create a huge ceramic mural depicting the people’s history of the local area. My vision is to make parts of Acton like a mini Barcelona –I really believe that the revolution can be ceramicised.
But I would also dearly love to go back to Mexico to work with the people in Miravalle again , I want to finish my house, mosaic another truck and mosaic the outside of my studio… but that’s really about 12 years work.
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