When I was five years old and at primary school we were set the task of copying one of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflower paintings, I remember enjoying the lesson and focusing on plotting each of the flower heads into place on my piece paper. My teacher was excited by what I had created and told my parents that I had ‘real creative flair’. So, they framed the painting and it hung in the hallway of our home for many years. From that point onwards they called me an artist and I agreed.
The painting became one of those objects that you no longer pay attention to because you see it everyday. After a good run in the hallway the painting was retired to the cupboard under the stairs, and that’s where it stayed for nearly two decades.
During that time, I went on to secondary school, sixth form and university. At each stage I choose creative subjects and my parents continued to call me ‘arty’ and ‘the artist of the family’. My motivation for choosing to study art was simple, I enjoyed it the most.
At university I studied Fine Art: Sculpture in London, it was a time for play and exploration. I made prints, took photographs, made textile sculptures, embroidered dried PVA glue, melted plastic bags and cast objects from plaster.
After graduating all I wanted to do was travel the world, I got the first job I could and set out backpacking a year later. The travelling bug has stayed with me since and it is on numerous adventures that I really learnt to talk to people. To communicate across language barriers, learning about different cultures and discovering commonalities.
After that I realised that the missing part of my artistic practice was people, so far I’d been creating mainly on my own. I started working at the arts and kindness charity People United in 2015 where I support participatory community arts projects on the ground and witness the truly life changing affect that taking part in creative activities can have on individuals and communities.
In early 2019 I decided it was time to reduce my hours at People United and begin freelancing as an artist, leading workshops and making work for myself again. Around the same time, I happened to unearth the now forgotten sunflower painting from the cupboard under the stairs. I’ve hung it in my flat as a symbol of ambition, joy and hope. I use it when I go to new schools to introduce myself -it helps to answer the inevitable question ‘when did you become an artist?’
Alongside delivering workshops for great organisations and responding to artist call outs. Wherever I can I spend time getting into that magic flow of making and creating.