I have always been a collector of damaged, decayed, broken and abandoned objects, many of which I use in my current practice.
Childhood for me was spent creating my own worlds, telling my own stories to invisible creatures and the breeze blowing through the trees, and subsequently collecting objects to fill these microcosms. I describe myself as being an alone child, not lonely, just shy, slightly awkward and contented with my own company.
My earliest memories are of finding and picking up these random objects, forever filling my pockets with stones and shells, feathers, bones and fossils, to be made into furniture for fairies or gifts for my dolls. During a short stint in the Brownies I even presented (unsuccessfully) my catalogued collection of broken china pieces in the hope of receiving the Collectors Badge…. seemingly much to the bewilderment of the rest of the group!
Nothing has really changed, I still pick up rusty washers in car parks and squashed bottle tops from the side of the road, however, nowadays I make a lot of my own clothes with plenty of deep pockets for collecting!
There was always a mental battle, as a child, of whether my love of finding objects would lead down the path of archaeology or whether my incessant inventing of stories and assembling of objects would take me along a more artistic route. The latter prevailed and eventually my object collecting has become a necessary material for my practice and my practice has become an essential usage for my amassed accumulations.
I began working with wire in 1992. I was studying a diploma at Newcastle-under-Lyme College of Art and was really struggling to draw my ideas down on paper so began ‘drawing’ with wire instead. I moved to Hereford a couple of years later, to study HND Design Crafts, and started going down to the river Wye shore to collect broken glass ‘pebbles’, driftwood and potsherds to add to my work.
My favourite wires to use are iron and steel although I do use brass, copper and silver wires too! Most of my wire work is shaped and bound by hand, I manipulate the wire using pliers, but occasionally I solder or braze the joins.
The creatures are made by applying layers of paper onto a wire form. I use strips of vintage papers from broken and damaged books and attach them using a simple flour and water paste. Once dry, the paper is sealed with a water based varnish to protect it from damp and damage.