I studied for a foundation in Art and Design at Barnet College, London, following this, I took my degree in Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University. My work has always been of a deeply personal nature, exploring issues of childhood trauma, eating disorder and physical and mental health, with the hope that by sharing my own experiences, using creative means, others might connect and feel less isolated in their own struggles. My work, at the time, explored a range of approaches, including painting, sculpture, installation and performance.
It was my intention to approach a career in Art Therapy, so I later trained as a child mental health nurse, to gain the necessary grounding to undertake such a role. In recent years, however, this path has had to be put on pause, as my own mental health needed attention, which actually put me back in touch with my creativity, which has been a powerful emotional outlet and has probably saved my life.
During this period, I began exploring issues around body image and how society affects our relationship with our bodies as well as the healing power of our natural environment. I exhibited in local arts venues regularly. While on an eating disorders ward, I curated an exhibition, called ‘Healing Art’. The exhibition was shown at two London venues and showcased the work of other eating disorder service users, who showed tremendous courage in sharing their experiences, with the intention to raise awareness and enable support to reach those who are in great need. It was at this time I also was involved in running an art group for vulnerable women and volunteered with Cafe Art, who support and promote the artwork of people who have been homeless. My own work, at this time, was mostly mixed media, textiles, collage, watercolour and oil painting and various printmaking techniques.
It was while volunteering at the House of Illustration that my interest in this area of creative expression begun, as I was surrounded by such inspirational artists and illustrators. I produced screen printing series, inspired by activist pop artist, of the 1960s, Corita Kent was an H.o.I. project and volunteers artwork was sold to gallery visitors.
I have since become interested in the pop art approach, enjoying the striking colours and sense of fun. Again, using screenprinting to produce portraits and landscape scenes. These incorporate the expressive gestural strokes of monoprinting, with the defined and carefully wrought process of stencil making. I intend to further explore layering of opacity and translucency, giving the prints a greater sense of depth and intricacy.
My book, ‘Goodbye Mama Cat’, was created, while I was grieving the death of my mum, during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was during this ver isolated time that Mama Cat came to me, helping me process traumatic memories of her last few days/hours, through contact I had with her via Facetime. I was then enabled to access more sustaining memories of my mum and feel the comfort of her presence, in the form of Mama Cat, as I struggled with a roller coaster of emotions.
My Mama Cat illustrations became ‘Goodbye Mama Cat; Grief in Isolation’ the book. It was created with the intention to reach out to those who are grieving, so that they may feel less isolated in their intense sadness and loss. Also, to enable conversations to emerge about death, something that we can shy away from, particularly when talking to children. I believe we are all children when a parent dies, so pictures speak to us far more than words, which can feel too difficult to access.
I have recently started a blog, called ‘The Anxious Artist’, which explores how being an artists and struggling with ongoing mental health challenges can interact, in so many ways. It is my hope that as I develop my readership it might be helpful to artists, those who might share some of the issues I describe and to those who may know very little about a subject that remains poorly understood.