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It doesn’t rain until it pours …

April 4, 2019

I stayed at Swan a Rent Car almost 5 years.  I married, my husband; not able to find work as a marine engineer unless he was prepared to travel to the middle east to work the new industry in the oil business or for Monsanto.  Followed his father into the docks to become a stevedore (another bag of political unease). I too, was made redundant when Swan Rent a Car became Swan National; but found work in the Ship Builders as a wages clerk, I would have to read the worker’s clock cards and prepare the data (work out the wages due) for the punch card operators. It was a bit more interesting, if not stressful as each tradesman, welders, fitters, caulkers, riggers, draughtsmen and painters etc. had a different hourly rate. It was not a pretty sight when already an underpaid man was given incorrect wages or his overtime overlooked.  I didn’t want to cause a strike or get a black eye.

We had to be good at mental arithmetic, adept at good old mechanical calculator or find my way round a well thumbed ready reckoner  although now we had decimals currency by then.  It was nice to see a ship grow at the end of our street even it was a warship or see to see ‘Queenie’ or Princess Anne when she came to ‘name this ship’

So I was now married and a fulltime mother mending and making do and an active member of the Labour Party, and we had the winter of discontent, electricity cuts, three day week, bakery strike, African boycotts it was a hideous time and by 1979 I was single and homeless … a lot more worldly (I thought) but now able to get by with my limited creative skills. I could cook,knit and sew and inclined to get politically agitated.  So what next … ?


Not there yet …

April 3, 2019

When I applied to do a degree course, I thought a BA might be better as I not ‘studied’ Art since I was at school and my BA of 10 years ago was Art and Humanities and to me didn’t seem relevant. The MA seemed liked a step to far; however, when I shows my portfolio I was offered a place when I confirmed my BA a few weeks later

During that time, I did look back on my life since I hadn’t been an artist and how at times not even a dream.

I did go to college when I left school but to learn Domestic Science with the view that I might get a job in a hotel in Southampton or at the seaside.  This proved to be most unattractive and that work in the city with a room seemed a lot more fun; cinema, Top Rank, department stores, ball rooms and discos in walking distance.  As I wasn’t a shorthand typist I had to ‘be’ an accounts clerk in the head office of a national car rental and petrol filling station company.  Here I dealt with petrol meter readings and car rental agreements long before computers were used instead clumsy calculating machines and huge accounts machines the likes I had not seen then or since.  Pretty mundane stuff, but I did get to learn to drive and use new cars; the likes of which had never seen before (since moving from the riverside) the Ford Capri, Cortina, Corsair and the iconic Mini.  I lived nearby in a Girls Friendly Society Hostel I shared a room with a girl from Nuneaton who had come south to work in the Pirelli Tyre Factory she was also an accounts clerk and her department were beginning to use punch cards so it was very exciting times as regards ‘new-fangled’ equipment.  She was a bit older, put curlers in her hair at night, smoked, did a crossword each day and was a socialist.  I was nowhere yet politically or otherwise since I was still not an artist.  My father I since worked out at was probably an anarchist and my mother voted Liberal.  My boyfriend at the time was an apprentice fitter at Vosper Thorneycroft’s and was to be a trade unionist.  So being a socialist and voting labour among the first 18-year-olds to get a vote was particularly exciting and as I lived very near the Transport and General Workers Union offices, I did get to see some important people coming and going; like Harold Wilson.   Having said all that did go to the local Wimpy Bar where the Southampton Football Team would go and there were some caricatures on the wall drawn by Ron Davies and Mike Shannon’s girl friend had a hairdresser’s salon around the corner.  Then there was Radio 1 that started then and who didn’t love Tony Blackburn?  So, for this mixed up little girl from a house boat on the river there was much going and not much spare money so I did begin to make my own clothes but not yet considering change in career this suited me for a while.

Its not a start it is continuation …

April 2, 2019

In a few months I will doing something I could only dream about in 1966.  I am going to art college!  I applied, was interviewed and offered a place very early this year.  I didn’t believe it, so much so that I suppressed the thoughts totally; the dream was so much more comfortable. Becoming a nightmare as the depression kicked in and me now taking medication.  During this time, I made a scrap book from cuttings, drawings, essays and poems, illustrating my so called ‘unfulfilled’ previous 50+ years.  It wasn’t until I started writing down and recording my life that discovered that I am an artist already ….  Doing a MA will be another step on a very rich and full life and will not take away my joy.  So, while I manage medication and depression I will look back over the last years and share the advantages thus far For example …. Watch this space.

How do I do it? Be Me?

November 5, 2018

For few weeks I have been exploring opportunities to return to full-time education.  To learn art and fulfil a dream I had in 1966. During the last few days I have learned about 3 options that I might consider.  I cannot disclose the whereabouts as that would tempt fate so I am cautious at the moment.

Nonetheless, there is much to do I have a solo exhibition is a little under a week.  The show represents my every waking breath of the last year; my work in progress.  As each piece is packed into the box to take to the gallery, so, I begin again not for the next exhibition but to be me ; drawing, collecting papers, fabrics, pigments and ideas for the next work/breath.

This morning warping a Tibetan Loom … how do I do it again?

Embroidered botanical drawing

October 10, 2018

For the last 2 years I have been embroidering coffee sacks; a dozen or so have been exhibited locally and it likely that they will be returned to the land of coffee for display in 2020 when I celebrate 70 years!

However, they are monsters (in a good way) and not perhaps one something one might hang over the mantel piece unless you live in a barn; then of course a sack might lend itself perfectly.  Enough to say I have perhaps I have exhausted the possibilities for a while.  During my last visit I bought a stash of floor cloths!! They are sold on every street corner in Rio for pence. Made of cotton and sewn like a sack so it can be slipped over a broom head like a sleeve and used to dry and polish the floor after it has been washed.  So, I am able to open them up like the sacks and ‘embroider’ them.

I have worked on some already and have begun a series of botanical drawings.  The first is the Gossypium hirsutum better known as upland cotton.  I didn’t have a clue what the plant looked like so had to spend a morning at the Kew Garden Library; I saw masses of pictures and read some literature; so while I do know what it looks like in my head; stitched on a dyed floor cloth it might not cut the mustard … nonetheless I am so pleased I am going to do Woad next of which I know nothing … so I feel another visit coming on.

I’ve been thinking …

September 25, 2018

I have been thinking; and the thoughts have become overwhelming and writing them sometimes helps to tease out the facts from the fiction.

While discussing my creative problems with a friend he suggested I did a BA; saying he as a mature student found the course helped him look towards a career path.

For me, a lot older saw my age as a concern, but soon disregarded that along with travelling as Reading is very close to London and south east where there are plenty of good Universities.

Then the reason why I should spend what might be as much as 30 thousand pounds and three years to ‘undo’ my creative problems.

I don’t need to fill my time and learning at my age is that so necessary?  It is not about a career or even making money. Is it the above-mentioned peer pressure? Is a BA vital for an artist?  Not for a hobbyist perhaps? I am a serious artist, it is my way of life.  Will doing a degree focus my way of working or cramp my style?

I am hoping it will develop my style and validate my practice as varied as it is and give me a platform of my own.

So, having established my reasons then which course? Art; yes.  Fine art might give me gravitas in the local art community.  Printmaking, book design might be too specialised, then there is textiles, looks nice and my favoured one but might be too craft related.

Having, decided I would like to do a course, I am not sure which one and takes me back to the first discussions and my diverse approach to art, from mark making, drawing, structural pieces, poetry, wood engraving, other printmaking, ceramics, embroidery, tapestry etc. and the ways I can exhibit, be a serious artist not a hobbyist or doing ‘handicrafts’.

The thoughts go on … not expecting any answers …

Day 6 my favourite book jackets …

July 31, 2018