Though my earliest memories are paint filled, colourful and messy, my path to becoming an artist was anything but straight. A career in art was not considered sensible and growing up in the middle of the Bavarian forest, opportunities were scarce.... so I studied English and French instead (because that made more sense;-)). I still painted and then discovered a love for upcycling furniture. 15-20 years passed where I wasn’t able to be very creative. They weren’t the happiest years in my memory, let’s just move on....
Let’s fast forward to 2012... On a trip to the continent I realised the beauty in the ugliness of oil refineries and wondered how difficult it would be to portrait this beauty in a painting. But having nothing but an O-level in art I decided I needed to start from scratch. I enrolled in a Drawing & Painting Diploma course with the London Art Collage which I completed 2 years later with a Merit. At the same time, probably because I lived far away from oil refineries (I’m lying – Stanlow is only a few miles away and I did paint that!), I started painting trees. Not really landscape, I was more interested in the story telling aspects of trees. The secret life of trees.. Here are a few early examples of my very early work:
'Glorious Life', Watercolour, 25cm x 38cm
'Cosy Togetherness', Watercolour, 40cm x 50cm SOLD
'Let's Party', Watercolour, 25cm x 35cm
In 2015 I won 1st prize for ‘Best Watercolour’ in our local village show. Highlight of my career to date, before I was banned from participating because they considered me a ‘professional’! February 2018 I had my first solo exhibition at the Castle Park Art Centre in Frodsham. Gosh, was I excited! I had become an artist! The Private Viewing event was packed and I even sold a couple of paintings! I was invited to demonstrate my technique at local art clubs and was asked to be UK Ambassador for Daniel Smith watercolours. My work was accepted at Open Exhibitions, such as the Liverpool, Chester and Stockport Open Exhibitions, Williamson Museum and Gallery in Birkenhead, Recycling Gallery in Chorlton and Cheshire Art Fair. I exhbitited in Chris Beesley’s gallery in Padgate (Warrington), gained commissions, organised a pop-up art fair and ran a pop-up gallery in Chester with some artist friends. Life was busy and exciting. I was still in paid employment too.
I wanted more though. I didn’t know where to go next. How could I develop my work? I didn’t want to continue painting trees. I wanted to be a proper artist, though I didn’t know what that really was. Oh well, I thought, it’s now or never.. No longer a spring chicken, I decided to go for it... I enrolled in a Master in Fine Art with the Open College of the Arts (OCA). After a challenging application process and a terrifying interview, I was surprised to have obtained a place. And so it began... what an amazing continuation of the journey that began so humbly and even secure.. I am writing this at the end of my second year of studies, with one more to come. My work has evolved and changed and I have evolved and changed; I see now what a gruelling career my parents saved me from, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! My work is my life, my life is my work. At this point, however, I must mention my wonderful husband, who stands behind and beside me, who gives his unfaltering support, encourages, is my muse and my critic (he has no idea really, but someone’s got to do it). He’s also my technical assistant. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. And he will be at my side for wherever this crazy life of being an artist will take me next.
The first year of my MA revolved around playing, experimenting, being courageous, trying things and of course reading a lot of academic books and writing a few essays and developing a professional practice plan. I felt out of my depth to be honest... Maybe I aimed too high? Most of my peers had a background of studying art history or a BA in Fine Art and there was me the Rookie... So in the first year, I went all over the place, I did some weird stuff too, I researched how art contributes to happiness and wellbeing and then later on writing and text in art. I went back to painting trees and researched communication between trees. Influenced by the writings of Peter Wohlleben and Colin Trudge, who have both written extensively about trees and the communication between them, I developed a body of work ‘The kinky life of trees’, based on the fact that trees ‘talk’ extensively about sex amongst themselves (They are also quite romantic and love to be in groups rather than alone – group sex springs to mind, oh yes- who would have thought!). I share some images with you here:
'Passion Pit' Mixed Media, 25cm x 38cm
'You're Driving Me Wild', Watercolour collage, 40 cm x 42 cm
‘The Kinky Life of Trees’ was meant to be shown in a solo exhibition at the Chester Art Centre earlier this year, but due to Covid-19 it didn’t happen. We showed it online from my studio but my lack of experience with technical equipment and relating to viewers via video rather than in person, meant that it was more of a comic performance than a sophisticated private viewing event.
Year 2 began with the decision that I’m done with trees, I felt that I heard their stories, they are tired of me and I’m tired of them. Time to move on. A thought that had developed over time was the notion that communication between trees is surely so much more straight forward than communication between people, no miscommunication, no ambiguity, no deceit. The question that needed answering was how to depict miscommunication visually? I began with collages, worked on my first sculpture and in December 2019 I created ‘The Art of Miscommunication’, installed both at Northwich Library and at R’Teapot in Padgate, Warrington. Both a performance and audience participation piece, it attracted a substantial amount of interest and allowed me to interact with my audience, which was such a lovely experience. . soon after we were in the grips of Covid-19, I painted a few pieces and the (novel!) idea crept up that I ought to make my work more about me. Yes, I miscommunicate on a daily basis, but so far I haven’t really addressed why. So far, my German and linguist background has not filtered through and hasn’t shown in my work. I believe this may be quite pivotal for my future path. I think I just made a sharp right turn! Check my Instagramm @makeslugsbeautiful or my website www.makeslugsbeautiful.co.uk for latest work. You'll be surprised:-)
So here I am now, do you want to follow my path? See what happens next? I’d love your company and am really grateful you’ve been reading the story so far! See you in the next chapter. Stay well in the meantime!