It has been a long time since my last blog update, and so much has changed that I wouldn’t know how to catch up! I thought I would post about a recent work…..

Thoughts / thought process into development of It Doesn’t Fit Anymore.                       March 2016.

I have been thinking about  the tension in my practise as a result of the different roles I have in my life.

The insecurities I have in my practise: The questions asked of me: whats the point? How do you make money and provide doing that? Hasn’t it all been done before?

As a mother I have worries that I am spending too much time away from my children. Then there are the limitations I put in the way of what I do because I worry that the kids will get embarrassed. Their friends have internet access: what if they google me and see footage of me doing challenging art works and ten bully my children because of it. How do I maintain integrity and free exploration whilst protecting my children?

I am also a wife who has come from a normal average home life to one that is now growing and changing and evolving through the growth of the art related aspect of myself. I have a husband who feels like he is being left behind and is losing touch with who I am. How do I make sure that the challenges that come with a marriage don’t limit how far I push myself?

I felt frustrated with these imposed perceptions of what I should be.

How can I challenge this? I feel like I get caged in by my worries of what other people think I should be doing. I am aware that each element of the cage strengthens another. The worries in relation to my mum role then limit my exploration. If I dare to push myself I can feel restricted / challenged in my marriage. But I feel deep down that my practise is not some thing I choose to do. It is part of me. And growing and exploring and pushing boundaries is important in every part of who I am to be able to feel content with who I am. This mental restriction feels very physical though as I feel restrained and contained. I literally feel that I want to smash through the compartments of my life and just be.

So…how do I make this visible……?

I feel like I want to get physical. I want to physically exorcise these inhibitors out of my head. I want to use my body to feel I am breaking/ smashing boundaries.

Making use of objects as symbols:

It may be illustrative and obvious, but I feel that smashing up a domestic object could be both exciting, and cathartic, whilst also providing something visually interesting. Thinking about Andre Stitt’s description of ‘Install-action’ -I feel that this could provide an interesting range of traces and remains.

I also think that wearing my wedding dress could be interesting. It is the uniform for the happy wife. The costume for the ritual where you sign up for domestic life. You are taught as a little girl to fantasise about wearing this dress to enter the world of domesticity and that that is where happiness lies. Well, when I was little anyway!

It seems ironic that the dress is way too small- This makes me laugh, because I feel like I don’t fit into these roles anymore anyway. I have grown, both physically and mentally- so I am too big!!

The ridiculousness of me fighting against the weight of the dress seems poetic… it seems to illustrate the difficulty in negotiating my roles; the weight that I am carrying mentally is illustrated by the weight of the dress. It is slightly humiliating to be exposed as being to big, just like taking risks that sometimes fail. Humiliation can often be a part of it. The sledgehammer- not a tool for a woman-( my husband was concerned that it was too heavy for me!) became my tool for destruction, and through that liberation. I am taken back to Smash It Up, and what they taught me about destruction as liberation and creation.

I feel like something has shifted. I feel like I have stamped my foot down and committed to myself….my practise… me. To who I am. And in doing so I hope that I will not be an embarrassment to my children, but an illustration that you should unashamedly be yourself, without apology. That to make a fool out of yourself is fine…as long as it is with reason. That sometimes, you have to not take yourself serious when dealing with issues that feel serious. That humour can be a way in. (Am I talking to my children now… or me?!?)


As time passes so too does it seem to speed up. With the intense experience of the passing of time and the impending assessment, self declaration and judgement, the level of introspection also seems to deepen. I am so in my own practise that I struggle to see out at times. I struggle to speak out at times. I become so in my own head, so present in my mental experience and thought that I lose touch with all around me. Friendships, family… general life I suppose. My practise becomes a safe haven where i can experience my thoughts; but the impending deadline perforates this experience with a sudden realisation that there is a world out there and that my practise is not just for me, but it is a communicative tool. A point of connection…. connection between my thoughts, connection between me and observer.

I realise that getting lost in my thoughts can become restrictive- as the thoughts become tangled knots that no longer make the same sense that they did when they first occurred in my mind. This is when physical action within my work becomes relevant- important in my practise. To do is to ground myself. To step out of my head and experience the sensory way of being. Thinking through action becomes an outward way of being; making use of introspective thoughts to connect outwardly. Why are thoughts and action separate? Can we not think through action? Isn’t this what we do as artists? Does the work become a extension of the mind and the body? A meeting point of the two?


It has been a while since my last blog post. Mainly because I have been so wrapped up in my practise. There has been so much going on. Since my last blog entry. I spent some time developing staging for my body hair plucking performance. I felt inspired by my ability to create a space, manipulate a space and create atmosphere through lighting. I had given much consideration to the visuality of the performance, not only for the audience but for documentation. I worried that I should maybe consider committing to one or the other- audience or camera- but I had read about Gina Pane and how the aesthetic of her performances was of equal importance to the performances themselves. This was comforting to me- I always have this fear of commitment in my work, and hearing about Gina Pane’s practice seemed to give me permission to not commit to live performance or documentation.


I hadn’t ever really thought about the staging as extension of the performance- I suppose I was so preoccupied with the action. I decided to set up a dark space, with three spotlights Under each spot light sat a large circular petri dish. I had considered sitting under one spotlight for the duration, but I was aware that as this was a durational performance that people would see a fraction of the entire action. By having three spaces to pluck in I was attempting to make it clear to people that there may be other plucking actions to the one that they were viewing at that moment in time. Moving between spaces would also give me the opportunity to get up and move- something that I learnt I would be incredibly grateful for!

And so, I sat for three hours, in three spot lit spaces. Each space assigned to a body part. I plucked leg hairs, pubic hairs and armpit hairs. I was surprised that the pain didn’t come from the plucking, but from sitting on the floor, neck bent looking inward at my body. As the three hours passed my head felt heavier and heavier. At the end I felt like I wouldn’t be able to lift it. My body had succumbed to gravity and I felt like a flat packed person. Gravity had pulled the weight of my head to the point where I felt like my nose could touch my leg! This altered experience of my body was intriguing to me. I became very aware of how my body felt. I felt very much in my body- rather than in my mind. I was aware of my body’s weight. It’s connection to the floor. My bones pushing through my flesh into the ground.

With regards to the presence of the audience, I found the lighting had created a strange voyeuristic situation. I was very aware from previous filmed performance that cameras had put people off from watching. That people felt self conscious watching in broad daylight to the point that they couldn’t engage with the work.  So by creating a very dark space, I was thinking of the audience. Thinking about how I wanted to make them feel like they could stay without feeling exposed. The lighting was successful in this area and many people did come and watch. But, what I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that as I sat in the light, when people entered the space, whilst I was aware they were there, and I could see a dark form standing near- I could not make out who they were. They were just dark shadows. Dark shadows that sighed, and breathed and whose footsteps I could hear moving around the space. At first this felt alarming, but I got used to it over time. In fact the sound of another breath or footsteps became comforting to me. I was not alone in the darkness, in the huge expanse of time- which I had lost touch with. I thought about how it seemed relevant- the exposing environment I had created for myself. I was sharing an intimate action- not normally shared with others. I suppose I had reversed the situation. Making the hidden visible, and making the audience hidden. The losing touch with time was the thing that caused most anxiety! I had no idea how much time was in front or behind me, and so it felt relentless and never ending. When that thought entered my mind I would feel panic set in, but by focusing on my breath I was able to push this anxiety away; but this became less efficient as time passed.

Reflecting back on the performance now time has passed I realise it has raised some interesting questions for me to engage with. I am asking myself whether the performance needed the audience. Because they are omitted from film documentation. Are they really needed for the work? I think they were- the work would have been very different had there been no one else in the space. And so the presence of the audience did affect the outcome of the work. They influenced my level of focus and control. I may have taken rests had I not been watched. And so I think there was an interesting relationship where the audience seemed to silently enforce me sticking to the rules. I realise though now that I have stood back and reflected that through me getting carried away with the staging, the performance seemed to defeat the object. I was intending on exploring the intimate actions we experience privately through our body, and how our anxiety in relation to the body is why they are private acts. I am fascinated with anxieties in relation to the body, even where we can’t handle the marks our body makes, it’s functions. The materiality of the body creates anxiety also, people feel very funny about hair when it is no longer attached to the body. These anxieties were the original driving force for the work, and so they should have been present, in my opinion. Yet through my staging I made this a comfortable experience. People commented on how it fell calming, serene and relaxing to be in the space watching. So, there was no confrontation with those anxieties that I talk about. I suppose, in that respect, the performance was a complete failure!!!!

It was successful in another area though. For me to sit and raise my skirt and pluck my pubes was a breaking down of a personal barrier. I realise that actually a lot of my practise is concerned with my insecurities with my body. I realise that it is quite sadistic to put my body in my work when I feel insecure about it. I could do anything, paint, draw, carve, yet I choose to use my body. I am thinking that I need to stop avoiding this issue and maybe use it in my work. Confront the insecurities head on and try to understand why they are there? Why do I place boundaries? Why would I feel uncomfortable? I need to try to remind myself to step out of the deeply personal self reference when I do this though, so that it is something that other people connect with. I suppose it is a fine balancing act, and I am trying to figure it out!!

Projections of collected body hairs as drawings.

Armpit hairs

Leg hairs

Pubic hairs



Having the opportunity to sit down and discuss my work with André outside of assessment time was hugely beneficial in realising what I have ahead of me with regards to developing current work. I found it useful to seek advice from someone who has gained so much experience in the field of performance. I am currently in the process of planning a durational performance exploring body hair. I intend on challenging the prescribed template in place for a feminine body through the plucking of my body hair.

We discussed the importance for the action of plucking opposed to shaving or waxing. I spoke about how I felt that shaving my legs etc would seem so normal to the viewer, and so there would seem to be no reason for the viewer to engage with the action; when what you are viewing is so completely normal / predictable you tend to lose the inquisitive way of engaging with what you are seeing. You switch off because it is predictable. By plucking the hairs one by one it would draw attention to each hair. The drawn out action may seem incredibly monotonous and impossible to finish. This impossibility of the task is something I want to highlight- the impossibility to stay in control of our body, the impossibility to stay one step ahead. No matter how much we try to manipulate the body, despite all the interventions we put in place we will always be chasing it’s actions. It will always be one step ahead. And one day, eventually, we will lose control of it entirely.

The durational aspect of the plucking is also an opportunity to test my own boundaries. To test the boundaries of focus, attention. To alter the experience of time. Also, I am hoping that the action of plucking- which is often associated with pain, will trigger mirror neutrons in the viewer and that my interest in embodied experience may be brought into the work.

When discussing my proposed action with André he challenged the fact that by only plucking legs, armpits and pubic hair I am not going as far as my initial enquiry demands. André suggests that the eyebrows, in their entirety, should also be plucked. If I am to challenge the imposed notions of beauty by plucking my hair then where does the boundary lie and should there even be a boundary. On reflection I think i agree with him, even though my immediate reaction is a case of, ‘no, not my eyebrows!!!!!’.

Why the instant horror in plucking all of my eyebrow hairs? Well, there is no hiding from it. The remains of my action will be visible for all to see for a significant amount of time- thats if they grow back at all! But, my horror in this action speaks volumes in the importance of this facial feature in fitting in and not being ugly! Eyebrows are such an important feature to the face; not only because of their expressive qualities but because they are associated with beauty. Without them, faces look quite alien-like. The face is such an important feature when it comes to these issues- so should I not be using it? How can I be truly challenging notions of ‘acceptable femininity’ if it is in relation to certain rules or boundaries? I couldn’t help but feel very aware of what it would be like to have no eyebrows at all outside of my art practise, in my life away from the studio. In the school playground when I wait for my children, in the supermarket, just in my general life…. I can’t help but feel that (despite my discomfort in the situation) it would be in these places where the art would truly come alive, where standards of femininity would be truly tested. Maybe I need to just be brave and take the step. It could be so powerful, and I know that when I am uncomfortable I am truly testing my boundaries. It seems like such a trivial thing- to be without eyebrows- but I can’t help but feel that it would be powerful. And that the humour of the action may be a thing that bridges the gap despite the oddness! I think this is something that I may explore separate to the current project that I am working on. I feel that I need to give consideration to a lot of factors- and I don’t want to rush. I am (hopefully) performing on the 25th February and I don’t feel that leaves enough time to plan for all of the factors that need to be prepared, e.g. portrait photographs etc.

I realise after talking to André that there is much work to be done with regards to the staging of my performance. Lighting, cameras, photography…. I realise that I have to let go and invite people in to help with documentation. This is a great concern for me as I am worried that the imagery won’t be what I want. I realise that a key point in this is communication. I need to make sure that I communicate clearly my expectations to those who help. I have arranged a meeting with Neil Pedder who is very experienced in documenting time based work- hopefully he will be able to share his knowledge and set up staging that will be much more effective than my previous attempts. It is important that people feel that they can enter the space, and cameras have put people off in my previous attempt at performance. I am hoping that clever lighting will enable the cameras to be discreet.


Myself and Lisa have been pushing forward, trying to find and secure spaces to show our work collaboratively in. We are keen to explore interesting, less obvious spaces as well as the typical white cube space. There is something interesting bout showing work in less obvious spaces. The space feeds into the work. It blurs the boundaries between artwork and exhibition space. It can sometimes feel like the wall and the space becomes an extension of the artwork. I think an artwork can communicate different ideas depending on the context within which it is viewed. I suppose that is the purpose of the white wall- to remove any possible associations. To allow the viewer to experience only the artwork. I think showing the work in different spaces can provide the opportunity for the artist, (and the viewer) to see another facet to the world. To get to know another part of it’s personality. To really understand what it is and what it does as an artwork.

So, back to the progress we have made; we have submitted proposals and we are due to meet someone for a discussion about a potential quirky space above a pub, but it was during a discussion with Mark Gubb that I realised that whilst we are looking for alternative spaces we are not pushing the boundaries of what an exhibition can be. Mark told me about how along with a friend he had turned their student house into an exhibition. An installation occupied the living room. Windows boarded up with peep holes so people could stand outside and look in. The artwork extended into the upstairs bathroom. Listening about how Mark had pushed boundaries inspired me to rethink what or where an exhibition could be. We joked about how you could even tell everyone to get on the number 23 bus and that we could occupy the back seat!

This has really expanded my thinking. Whilst discussing it with Lisa we both talked of how we think there is something exciting about interrupting the normal with art. Placing art in a place where it is not expected, there is something very exciting about that notion. So, moving forward, maybe we need to think outside the box. We both want to make something exciting, something challenging within our work, so why not mirror that with the way we exhibit?!