"Finding it much easier to create images than writing, it has proven to be a fundamental process to help understand and take in what is happening around me, and it gives me a sense of freedom"
What do you do?
I’m an illustrator based in Leicester, though it’s more of an umbrella term and I consider myself a mixed media artist and maker.
Exploring and creating with paper, embroidery and digitally my work revolves around nature and our relationship with it. In an ever-growing connecting world of technology and its looming place within society, it is easy to become disconnected to what is around us.
I create work to hopefully inspire and remind others that our roots lie within nature, we are nature it is not separate from us.
Growing up in a time where new technology was developing fast - from playing snake on a Nokia to having a smart phone less than a decade later, it is easy to become absorbed with the digital world. The moment I started looking up and observing the miracles of nature, I began appreciating the small and the beautiful. It had a real positive effect on my mental well-being and since then my work has held this underlying message.
How did you get where you are?
I have always been exploring the world of creativity and have dipped my toes in a lot of disciplines. I studied Graphics, Photography and Textiles in A-Level and I think this was the time where my love for mixed media art formed. I then went on to study an Art and Design foundation degree in Norwich and graduated from University of Westminster in 2017, studying Illustration + Visual Communication.
During my time in university I was part of many group exhibitions, my proudest moment was when my piece ‘As free as a Bee’ was selected for an exhibition in Edinburgh organised by the wonderful charity ‘Grow Wild.’ It was the first time I had exhibited out of my education bubble; I had my first recorded interview and I really began to appreciate my work and it gave me a much-needed confidence boost. That experience also made me think about where I wanted to go from there, the environmental crisis has been on my mind for many, many years and I wanted to create work that was not only aesthetically pleasing, but also held a message about the declining bumblebees and how vital they are. Along with the piece, visitors could take wildflower seed packets to grow at home. It was amazing that my art had inspired people to do their bit to help towards a solution of a serious problem.
I have never doubted that being an artist is what I want to do, it is a natural form of expression and it makes me happy. I had a weird limbo experience just after graduating and took some time off for a few months, as the panic started to kick in… what am I actually going to do with an art degree?
But I got back into creating on a daily basis last year, when I had my own home studio space. I realised I will always be an artist, but to make a career from it is going to a lot of hard work, some tough challenges and will just take time. You just have to trust and respect the process.
Why do you love what you do?
This past year has given me more clarity on why I do what I do. Drawing and making has always been a natural way for me to unwind, meditate and it is definitely a form of therapy. It allows me to escape from reality for a few hours a day (hopefully longer) into worlds that I create, enabling me to reflect and relax.
Finding it much easier to create images than writing, it has proven to be a fundamental process to help understand and take in what is happening around me, and it gives me a sense of freedom. I really appreciated this form of escapism during lockdown.
Along with nature, there are many talented artists that inspire me along with the gorgeous works of the early 20th Century, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Surrealism, also the peculiar Victorian curiosities and the Psychedelic era of the 70s. I'm also pretty curious about what's going on up in the sky and beyond, and a big fan of retro sci-fi art.
Underestimating the arts is a massive issue that we face within the society and it has grown with the current Government in place. From childhood it is how we express ourselves, a form of therapy, and a way to communicate and understand the World around us. Being part of the creative circle is wonderful! Meeting like-minded creatives, supporting each other and sharing the same passions is so important and I’m really grateful to be part of that community. It is bold, resilient and revolutionary!
Why are you based at Leicester?
I’m actually a bit of a newbie to Leicester. I’m originally from a small village not too far from the coast in Norfolk and surrounded by beautiful rural space, that’s where my appreciation for nature began. I then lived in London for 4 years while studying and I headed further north to Sheffield for a short while, before moving to Leicester for my partners' work. We knew very little about Leicester, but have been settled here for 18 months.
My experiences of Leicester so far are largely positive! I’ve found it to have the most supportive and friendly creative community with many opportunities for artists at all stages in their career. It is so wonderful to be part of such a diverse community, meeting people from all walks of life. It offers such a wide variety of amazing cuisines, and it has a beautiful hub of independent businesses.
Growing up in the most easterly point of England, I have definitely appreciated being in the midlands and close by to lots of exciting places. It’s also amazing that within 20 minutes of leaving the city centre you are surrounded by big open spaces.
I do look forward to a trip home and a walk along the beach though, nothing quite compares to looking out to sea, the fresh sea air and the sound of crashing waves.
During lockdown, I made the most out of a pretty dire situation and tried to be creative every day. It allowed me to generate lots of new work, try new things and build a portfolio. I recently opened an Etsy shop and have been selling prints and originals along with collage kits, so people can get creative while spending more time at home. I have felt pretty overwhelmed and so appreciative of the response so far, the support I have received and comments of my work inspiring others just motivates me more!
I was very excited to be part of a group exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, called ‘Inspired in Lockdown’ and that ran until Sunday 15th November.
Another exciting project I am lucky to be part of is Our Planet week, an amazing initiative started on Instagram this year. A movement dedicated to highlighting the environmental issues around the world and raising awareness in creative ways. They are hoping to publish a book with 100 illustrations from Illustrators all over the world who took part in Our Planet week, more details will be announced in the coming month, you can follow them on Instagram to keep up to date.
I have a few plans and goals for the future, I would really like to continue creating collage kits. I had such a positive response during lockdown and plan to create more very soon. I would also love to work with more charities doing amazing things for the environment, helping towards sustainable solutions for a better future for all.
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