As my daughter goes off into the world of undergraduate life and finding her way through university life, my own parallel journey of returning to study at Derby Uni has also started.

 


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Oh my goodness, where did the year go?

The degree show opening night is the 25th September where my work will be shown to the wider public for the first time.  I’m really nervous about this, I have shown some work over the years but never on this scale before.  I have challenged myself way out of my comfort zone and created some really powerful work, not only in physical size but in subject matter.

The big question is what do I do next….


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There has been a conflict this week between my home life and university life.  I had to miss a really exciting workshop, the decision was a hard one but I needed a day of stopping, I was exhausted after a trip to Anglesey at the weekend.

My 83 year dad had fallen off a bike at the weekend (he hadn’t ridden one for 60 years and thought he’d have a go), this resulted in a broken hip followed by a hip replacement op.  He’s fine, but the drive up to North Wales has wiped me out.  Myself and my eldest daughter drove up to visit the Ex Stunt Cyclist, then travelled back home the next day, one day of work whilst in between all this the normal domestics of life continue, shopping, cooking, counselling (twin daughters arguing), clearing uni rooms (eldest daughter).  There has been no cleaning and no artwork.  I’m trying not to panic.

By Wednesday, I had to stop, so no art inspiration to motivate me on.  The balance is hard, to take yourself seriously as an artist while the other demands are shouting very loudly but sometimes I just need to do nothing and stare at the walls.

I didn’t have to do an MA but I wanted to challenge my brain academically, but sometimes it feels like it takes second best in the scheme of life.  However, my treat today is to spend 5 hours on a train, I’m going stocked up with books, sketchpads and pens.

My work is based around domesticity, so it’s quite pertinent that the domestic has taken over the art at the moment.

 


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I’m entering the last term at university and the big push for the final show is being felt.  I’m researching and reading at every opportunity, I sat in the car last night waiting for my daughter to finish cadets and read Imogen Racz’s book.  I’m writing in my lunch break at work amidst marking student’s artwork and there feels no space for any other thoughts.  I am dominated by art and love it.

We have had a couple of lectures on being a professional artist following the course and the great thing I’ve realised, is that I am already doing this.  I work as an art tutor, I facilitate workshops, I create art and I study.  The main thing missing is exhibitions and having a focus for when the MA is finished.

 

I’d like to try a residency and this will be something else I can look at over the next couple of weeks.

I am starting to feel confident as an artist and happy to define myself as one.


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wow, that time flew by in a blink of an eye.

In a whirlwind of a term, I haven’t had time to really stop and reflect.  All work is handed in and all essays submitted.

It all took an unexpected turn, I started out wanting to explore walking as an art form, but I now find myself with a new indoor studio space and sewing machine.  Looking at how the stitch has been used subversively, to challenge gender stereotypes, for protest and in my own circumstances, to address some personal issues.  I never meant that to happen.

I started making quilts, but they quickly took on a  life of their own, dictating to me what should be made, I tried to not think too much about the process and went with the flow, what started out as a way of exploring landscape, eco dyeing and topophilia has become more about psychogeography and emotional landscapes.

This makes me feel uncomfortable, vulnerable and exposed, but knowing that all great learning takes place outside of our comfort zone, I feel I need to persist with this.  I’m fairly happy with the work I submitted, but now need to wait for the feedback, which is of course, the hardest part.


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I love being a student again… despite the deadlines for presentations and essays approaching at an alarmingly fast speed, I’m really enjoying the whole experience.

So far, I’ve been to a few galleries, all within a days travel, listened to curators talks, started to read critical theory books and explored new contemporary artists. Oh and I’ve started to make some artwork.

It’s a joy to be in a mentally stimulating atmosphere again.

My work has taken a direction towards textiles, I’ve started to look at quilt making as an art, it’s position in regard to gender politics and craft, how this artform can be used to express ideas whilst creating a beautiful object.

Ive realised there are three elements to my process, from walking and foraging, bringing these foraged items home, lighting a fire to create the alchemy that happens in eco dyeing to the domestic act of sitting and sewing. There are several threads to explore further and they all seem to contrast each other.


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