Reminiscing on the Early Days as an Artist

Reminiscing … 

Day two and my first post brought lots of memories flooding back. I was so proud to finish my degree; I think I achieved more in that year than I’d done in the three previous ones! I valued my time and the freedom to create all day long, loved coming home to my son. The sensible advice I was given was to train as a teacher, but I wanted to be free…Interesting on reflection!

I decided I was going to have to learn how to make a living in the arts, how to get funding for my ideas. I felt I was on a roll with the creative side of things but needed to learn how to make a living out of it. I wanted to provide creative opportunities for other people, of all ages. I worked with a large local play scheme and with a girl’s group which I loved, and I took part in Playtrain’s first course in Birmingham. My mission was to encourage others to create and make, it frustrated me that children were taught at school whether they were creative or not, and most children naturally believed it. I believed that creativity was an important part of living for everyone and necessary for a balanced life – and I still do. I hated the way that most people felt that the world of visual arts was something people felt they didn’t know about, or feel they could comment on, yet nobody appeared to feel that way about music. How we create our homes, paint our walls, what we put in there, is creative, is visual, is an expression of ourselves. So, I created things with people, mostly children and teenagers and mostly out of cheap, scrap materials. The resource centre in Ward End park  (now relocated Birmingham Scrapstore) was a brilliant resource at the time. Best of all we had a lot of fun! I saw the impact creating things had on everyone, how it built confidence, dexterity and motor skills ( sounds a little pretentious but it’s true) We achieved things lots of creative stuff together and individually.

I took on a placement at W.M.A., now ACE, with Julie Seddon-Jones and gained insight into what and who could be funded. We visited artists and makers and I learned a bit about funding criteria. During this time, I also met and was inspired by the development of a new arts and cultural management company, ‘Different Aesthetics’ who were developing some interesting multi art form projects. I got involved with them, creating artwork for ‘Reminiscing in Tempo’ alongside Kate Green, a brilliant local photographer at that time. Reminiscing in Tempo’ was a touring show of amazing 1st generation Black Jazz musicians, the first venue, Birmingham Town Hall. I still think I’ve got photos of the artwork I created for this project, but buried deep in the loft! It was during a placement with them, my concept for ‘All Things Are Connected’ was inspired.

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