I come from an extended family of writers and artists, so it was perhaps inevitable that I should build a multidisciplinary creative practice encompassing mixed-media drawing, performance, arts project management, film, collaborative work, and workshop facilitation.
Following a childhood brimming with intense creativity in various forms, my first (albeit sideways) professional entry into the arts was fashion illustration. I loved the luxury of detail afforded by fine-line drawing and took to selling design sketches on quirky themes such as Baroque, Florence, fish scales, 1930s pinstripes, Japanese Nō theatre and Surrealism.
I also practised sign-song and performed Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (2006, dir. Bim Ajadi for Vee-TV, Channel 4/Maverick TV/Resource Base) and Yellow (2008, dir. Samuel Dore).
Keen to foster my own artists’ community, in 2005-8 I became Founder-Director of Salon, a deaf-led visual arts project based in the South-East.
Our aim was to empower deaf and hard-of-hearing adults, children, young people and practising artists to explore conceptual art ideology through a variety of developmental activities in the South-East and London.
This included art retreats at King’s Wood, in partnership with Stour Valley Arts; all-day artist-led workshops at Modern Art Oxford; outreach work; a residential drawing workshop with GCSE students at Mary Hare School as part of The Big Draw 2007; and exhibitions at OVADA and Nicomsoup, London.
By way of advertising I also distributed The Lounge, a quarterly hybrid bulletin, and documentaries including Salon in King’s Wood (2007, dir. Samuel Dore) on DVD.
My work with Salon led to a variety of innovative and exciting collaborations. Inside-Out Architecture, a three-year initiative in 2005-8 commissioned by Arts Council England aimed to explore space, access and the built environment from a disability perspective. There I worked alongside architects, planning officers, and disabled artists Rachel Gadsden, Mark Ware, Caroline Cardus, Damian Toal, Zoe Partington, David Dixon and many more.
Thus I created Listen, a temporary audiovisual installation, with Jon Adams at InQbate; made a BSL presentation about deaf access to Architecture Week South-East 2007 at RIBA in London, commissioned by the groundbreaking Solent Centre of Art, Architecture and Design; and collaborated with Rubbena Aurangzeb-Tariq and two architects at The Lightbox in Woking on a life-size model of an accessible shop-‘pod’.
In 2013, I participated in Short Circuit at Lighthouse, Brighton, which aimed to foster deaf and disability arts in the realm of digital media funded by Arts Council England. There I created a prototype for an animated comic, Notsosuperwithatandembuggy, with Dave Packer of Sheepfilms.
After an extended hiatus I returned to fine-line drawing in 2017 with #dailyartchallenge – inspired by Jennifer Orkin Lewis’ six daily drawing tips – and began accepting commissions as an individual artist. This set me up for new multidisciplinary collaborations, namely Dressage Freestyle with Audiovisability and Statements in Semaphore with Susan Merrick (both in 2018).
In the former I developed a series of drawings and wrote an essay about the musical journey of the Deaf Paralympian Laurentia Tan, following some equestrian training sessions I had observed during a trip to Cologne.
Dressage Freestyle introduced me to the remarkable work of Ruth Montgomery, Audiovisability’s Founder-Director, her Associate Director Eloise Garland, and their long-term musical collaborators Dame Evelyn Glennie, music producer Chris Bartholomew and dressage music composer Tom Hunt, and the magic they could make with Subpac, the sublime ‘woofer’ technology designed to enable deaf access to music.
The following year I continued my partnership with Audiovisability and Decibels by co-facilitating multidisciplinary music, visual art and technology workshops with Eloise Garland at The PACE Centre in Aylesbury, funded by Arts Council England and the Sobells Foundation, an opportunity that I enjoyed taking on.
My involvement in Statements in Semaphore was more encompassing. I participated in live street performance, engaged in a video conversation piece with my collaborator Susan Merrick, led an art workshop with Deaf abuse survivors, and created two works of my own – all of which were incorporated into the exhibition A Series of Events Part I at Platform 1 Gallery, Wandsworth Common.
Its sequel, A Series of Events Part II, took place at Princes Hall, Aldershot, with much of the same content brought to new audiences. I also contributed to Practicing to Share, Susan’s 2020 follow-up which explored the challenges of being a practising artist, a feminist and a parent, and preceded my Woman Up! podcast interview, part of a series run by Desperate Artwives.
2021 has also been a year of sketchbooks. Last spring my first public artist’s sketchbook, Once Upon A Rooftop, was placed in Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project archive in New York, and can be viewed online. My second, a mixed-media collage with a colour theme titled MM: A Memoir, is presently being catalogued by the same library.