After struggling with depression and the detachment the illness can bring, art became my way to reconnect with the world around me. In this series of works, I'm exploring further the significance of architecture in my story. As someone who became housebound for a time, I know a building can be both a haven and a prison.

Working intuitively, I respond to the subject by meaningful process; in effect, the act of mark-making becomes as much a part of the painting as the final piece, with each process contributing to the storytelling.

The artwork is created in layers giving a suggestion of past, present and an unwritten future.

Told through an array of techniques: diluted paint, allowed to drip, uncontrolled; paint stripped back to reveal the past; the suppression of one colour by another; stamping (branding); the continuous lines represents curiosity, examination and a flow of energy from us (the viewer) to the people and environment around us.

 

San Francisco view from russian hill (acrylic mixed media, recycled fabric & paper collage 32x40 [SOLD].

San Francisco view from russian hill (acrylic mixed media, recycled fabric & paper collage 32x40 [SOLD].

San Francisco In This Moment (09.28.16)

San Francisco in this moment 24x24 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas £200 (+p&p)

San Francisco in this moment 24x24 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas £200 (+p&p)

I expected to fall in love with this creative city - and in a sense, I did - however the issue of homelessness was so striking; the wounds of the city left open.  

Meanwhile, the beautiful and unaffordable Victorian homes on Alamo Square are a tourist attraction.  

The background of this piece was inspired by a visit to Alcatraz Prison which affected me in an unexpected way. Every prisoner was given a rule book and they were expected to know and follow those rules, not only to keep order, but also to keep them safe. I stood inside one of the solitary confinement cells which were preferred by the inmates. Not only were they larger than the regular cells, they also had a clear view of the beautiful ocean and of San Francisco. For me the view of the coastline was tantalising, but I couldn't help wonder if it would be more like torture for the occupants of the cells who could witness freedom and life happening yet be unable to take part themselves. As I tried to imagine what living inside that cell would be like, I was met with a familiar feeling.  I was struck by the notion that, as I struggle with depression I already live in a kind of prison; one that is self-imposed. I give myself rules to avoid danger, discomfort and humiliation, that often force me to be one of life's observers, restricted by fear.  That cell made me think of the Alamo residents and wonder if they ever catch a glimpse of their cities wounds from their windows.

Singapore, order in this moment of chaos (12.06.18)

singapore order in this moment of chaos. 36x36 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas.

singapore order in this moment of chaos. 36x36 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas.

As a Brit mindful of our history, I visit a former British colony with some unease in my heart, however the Singaporeans credit Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, with bringing order to chaos. This spirit has come to define the people here. As one local told me, “we love order; we don’t know how to deal with chaos.”

The view from the seventieth floor of my hotel shows the colonial district in the foreground, dwarfed by the incredible symbols of modern-day success in the background. She is spotless, the cleanest streets I have ever seen.  This nation takes her laws seriously. I wonder what makes her so different from us. I cannot believe it’s solely fear of punishment, but a respect and pride which many of us don’t possess.

In this moment, Singapore has the eyes of the world upon her, chosen for this “historic event” because of her reputation for order and neutrality. I cannot help but admire her openness and courage to invite in what she’s disquieted by most.

singapore, shelters in this moment (24.03.18)

Singapore Shelters in this moment 24x36 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas £200 (+p&p)

Singapore Shelters in this moment 24x36 inches acrylic mixed media and recycled cotton on deep edge canvas £200 (+p&p)

Established in 1887, Raffles Hotel in Singapore has become a national monument. It’s been a haven for many notable guests, writers and film stars visiting the island over the years. In 1942, Singapore surrendered to Japan as British colonials gathered at Raffles Hotel to dance and sing “There Will Always Be An England”. It is said that the Japanese soldiers encountered the guests in Raffles Hotel dancing one final waltz.

When Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1945 the Hotel became a temporary transit camp for war prisoners - though she was a shadow of her former self.

I was looking forward to experiencing the famous Long Bar where the floor is strewn with peanut shells [as this is the only place in Singapore where it is legal to litter].  However, in this moment it’s closed for renovation, surrounded by scaffolding, hidden from view - so we shelter from the most incredible rain storm under the awning of a just as beautiful, but more law-abiding cafe.

Berlin in this moment

Berlin Stories 36x36 inches acrylic and recycled fabric on deep edge canvas £450 (+p&p)

Berlin Stories 36x36 inches acrylic and recycled fabric on deep edge canvas £450 (+p&p)

History has seen Berliners repressed, imprisoned or even killed by their own leaders.  Now, I see her liberated with an air of permission to express herself!  You find her stories in unexpected places, on pavements and on walls (officially and unofficially). 

When I visited the Stasi Museum, exploring the Cold War, I learnt about the mind games the Stasi would play on the people they monitored; breaking into their homes, moving items to make the victim believe they’re going crazy.  They seduced East Berliners with cheap state-of-the-art homes and other luxuries to discourage defection to liberal West Berlin.  

It made me consider my own mind games. When a person struggles with mental health, they give themselves rules to live by, constantly giving themselves orders; things they shouldn’t do, tricking themselves into believing it’s for their own protection, but in reality, they’re living in a kind of secret, self-imposed prison.  [These feelings were echoed when I visited Alcatraz] (see San Francisco In The Moment)

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was damaged during a bombing raid in 1943. Plans to repair the spire were rejected by Berliners, declaring the landmark as the heart of their city.  In this moment, I recall a UK mental health campaign telling sufferers that “it’s okay to not be okay”

we don’t have to hide our brokenness. 

This church is one of the 330 Cross of Nails centres around the world, bearing a cross made of three nails made from the ruins of WWII. Torment and brokenness does not always lead to isolation, it can be unifying.