Born in Bradford in 1972, I grew up in Doncaster during the miners strike until I left for London at 18, rather than being the daughter of a miner, I was the local College Drama Lecturers offspring (both parents were Southerners so have always felt a bit of a misfit). I’ve lived mostly in East London, but also Hove, Amsterdam and now Romford, spending four years studying jewellery design at a polytechnic that had ideas above its station and became a university. Exhibited on graduating and had a solo show which gave me a brief taste of the high life before determining that in order to eat and pay a mortgage, paid employment must be sought.
I’ve had many jobs but have only ever wanted to be an artist. A brief experiment in keeping house rabbits in 1997 led to the idea that the responsibility of marriage, house and children may not be so hard, but have spent the last twelve years realising it wasn’t a fair comparison, I am now divorced but consider my 23 year marriage to a fantastic man an achievement to be celebrated. Mental Health seems to have been a recurring theme throughout my life, having learnt the hard way to live with it ups and downs. I have made good use of my experiences and work as a mental health service user educator, with a particular interest in suicide prevention. My only brother took his life in 2002 after a long battle with schizophrenia.
I live in Romford with my two children – after bleaching my own toilet and performing all the other mundane domestic tasks which keep us civilised, I work as an independent hairdresser in a local salon and very occasionally make art in a large shed at the bottom of my garden. I run a community project with my tips, in memory of my brother called ‘Toby’s Chair’ which aims to provide free haircuts on referral for those experiencing adverse mental health issues and low self esteem.
My work seeks to highlight the aspects of our lives we tend to sweep under the carpet, those grey areas we keep hidden for fear of ridicule. I’m interested in the personality traits we edit out, the ones which make us unique and our lives richer. More than ever we are presented with a technological, polished version of life to aspire to by the media, and we have new opportunities to create our own presentation. I seek to illustrate my own experience of mental health issues in order to connect with those around me.
I grew up in a different age, with inadequate hair products, before crisps came in tubes, and measuring how popular we are wasn’t by the number of ‘likes’ ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ you had. I fear we’re losing important communication skills, and hope that I can make some lost connections with those that don’t feel they fit into the new sleek ‘sexier’ version of the world.