I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University in 1999 with a first class honours degree in Contemporary Craft, I specialised in ceramic sculpture and printed textiles. I set up in business straight away and in 2001 my first solo exhibition and also my first site specific installation at the City Galleries Leicester entitled Elvis the Whippet’s salon took place, another followed in 2003 at Mima, Middlesborough (Operation Jumpsuit) and Libre les Grenouilles was shown at the Craft Council Gallery shop, London in 2004. Alongside these I have had many shows including Stephanie Hoppen and Medici gallery in London and to this day regularly supply sculptures to galleries such as the Old Courthouse in Ambleside and Fenwick Gallery in Northumberland.
In 2010 I was commissioned by Stockport Art Gallery to come up with another installation idea and Reggie’s Roller Palace was born, a vintage take on the modern culture of celebrity seen through the eyes of an ageing rat. A mini version was taken that Summer to the vintage festival at Goodwood and I also completed my first solo show of oil paintings that year at the Dean Clough Galleries in Halifax which I was immensely proud of.
Reggies Roller Palace caught the eye of the Centre for the Applied Arts in Ruthin, Wales and was reworked and reborn in 2011. It was a long held ambition to have an exhibition there and to have a solo show taking up the entire gallery was a dream fulfilled. I have always been immensley grateful to the Arts Council for their support in the installations I have created.
2012 saw the birth of my first daughter and with the demands of motherhood came the need to ditch intensive exhibitions and concentrate on the bread and butter of my business which is private commissions. I have made this my sole focus of my practice over the last few years and my one yearly retail show - Crufts dog show is now my main selling event.
My second daughter was born in 2016 and in 2017 my 1st daughter started school and so a new adventure has begun! feeling a little dismayed at the way creativity has been gradually squeezed out to the very boundaries of education I have set up an after school creative club to try and redress the balance in a small way, you can read more about it in the education section.
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about the sculptures
The unique characters present in the animal kingdom always have and continues to provide endless fascination for me and with this a rich and unlimited source of inspiration. It was whilst at university and living on a farm that I first started incorporating canines into my work ... I became fascinated with their (often absurd) individual personalities and since then on I have become intent on capturing this.
Although dogs remain at the forefront of my work I am particularly drawn to the less loved and ostracised members of the animal community and relish the chance of bringing these into my work - for instance the rats I produced for Operation Jumpsuit were inspired by my own pet rat of the time Glen. The installation 'Libre les Grenouilles' intended to highlight the plight of froggies in the French restaurant trade. Marabou storks are also a particular favourite - I can spend hours watching their antics at the zoo, whilst listening to passers by commenting on their uglyness in 2010 I created a series of paintings and 3D work based on these studies. Capturing the essence of these creatures is paramount in each piece I produce and 2010
Painting for me is as important as the actual sculptures themselves - I enjoy working in different media as for me it keeps the work fresh. Sketching and painting allow me a better understanding of form but more importantly I enjoy the freedom paint offers - away from all the technical constraints associated with handbuilding clay.
Each sculpture is completely made and finished by hand, no moulds whatsoever are used. Initially a frame is made to support the clay during the making process, I then use slab building techniques to create the piece using a smooth black clay which contains a fine grog giving a close texture and a fine surface to the finished sculpture.
Once dry each sculpture is slowly fired to 1100 degrees. It is then painted by hand using a series of washes to create the desired depth of colour and accuracy essential for commissioned pieces. First the base or root colour is applied, then while stil wet, further washes of lighter colours are added to form shade and pattern. The final details are then added with finer and more delicate brush work.
As my sculptures have grown in popularity demand has outstripped my capability to keep up and it became apparant I needed to train someone up to take over the finishing side of the sculptures. Luckily my husband who has a degree in ceramics stepped in and is now my full time assistant.
Solo show of oil paintings and multi media sculpture based on studies of Marabou Storks. Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax 2010
An Installation featuring 500 handmade rats, crows and a cat. Operation Jumpsuit commented on the decline of manufacturing and drew parallels with the conflicts between art and craft. It was commissioned by MIMA, Middlesborough in 2003
A group exhibition of fellow animal sculptors held at the Cedar Farm Galleries based on drawing expeditions to the Zoo, Nov 2017
An installation commenting on the absurdities of the beauty industry which was commissioned by the City Gallery in Leicester, 2001.Elvis the Whippet’s salon was my first solo show and it toured the country for 2 years
A large scale installation featuring over 100 Handmade sculptures, film, music and graphics. It commented on the culture of celebrity and the mass marketing that surrounds it. The show toured from 2010-2013, venues included The Centre for Applied Arts, Ruthin, Stockport Art Gallery, Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford, Park Gallery, Falkirk, Salford Art Gallery.