A member of the royal british society of sculptors.
Frequently asked questions
I regularly receive enquiries from students who are interested in my work, but I do not always have time to assist students in their studies. The following is a selection of answers, to frequently asked questions, about my practice and is included on the website to help enquirers.
- Which subjects most interest you?
I am drawn to universal issues which have a political and social value. Levels of consumption of natural resources, food and material possessions are indicators of a society’s status and value and therefore are particularly intriguing. I have also investigated; image and identity issues in office environments (see ‘Office Politics Collection’), rites of passage (see ‘Barbie keeps her appointment with Womanhood’ Tullie House Museum commission), ethnic cleansing (refer Bankfield Museum response) and war (see Barrow schools memorial commission).
- Which perspective do you adopt when dealing with difficult environmental issues?
The dialogue I intend with an audience is open-ended for I am not wishing to deliver a polemic or one that is morally redeeming. My perspective is one of a curious mind reflecting what is observed: a world without a sense of equilibrium.
- What are the most difficult aspects of your practice?
I struggle with the concept of making more stuff in an already over-stuffed world. Material objects have a value that I recognize but those that just ‘sit’ seem superfluous, so part of me is anti-thing. Yet tangibility is seductive and often leads to an intriguing creative journey that I relish making this paradox difficult to reconcile.
- Do you think titles are an important aspect of your work?
Titling the work is an important stage, to me as it starts to open up the private discourse to others. The balance of how much to reveal and ‘explain’ weighted against intimacy and abstraction.
- Is involving humour in your work important?
Humour is a useful communication tool and it is often employed to connect with an audience. Many of the issues I engage with are sensitive and political and therefore careful handling is particularly necessary. Sometimes blatant and sometimes more obscure, I find employing wit and humour a delight that enlivens and imbues the work with a sense of the ridiculous that reflects the human condition.
- How do you measure success in your work?
I measure success in two ways.
My work feels like a series of conversations. Initially it is a private dialogue with the issue – where I explore through research and questioning what I know, what I learn, what I feel, what I want to say and how I want to say it and finally in which media and medium I want to use. Success at this stage is intuitive.
Secondly, if the conversation is expanded, by being invited to share the work with others, I gauge success by observing stimulating interactions, debate, motivation and reaction in the audience.
For example, by influencing the way people perceive waste, a difference can be made to the problem. Evaluation reports and surveys about the residencies, workshops and exhibitions have assessed their impact to be powerful and sustaining. The participants in the Personal Baggage project were all surveyed to assess their experiences and the individual value of the project. Most felt better informed about waste, and valued the opportunity to express themselves to others, which they hoped would in turn make other communities feel different about the subject. (For more information refer to Residencies pages – Personal Baggage and follow the link www.copelandbc.gov.uk/personalbaggage )
- A significant amount of time in your practice is spent as a mediator. How do you manage this within your practice?
Over the years the role as a mediator has grown until it is now an important part of my practice. For an artist the role of mediator has different demands whether I work with organisations or individuals. Entering the domain of an organisation or community, as a creative filter, is a privileged position. The engagement necessitates that a respectful dialogue is developed and nurtured.
For example, in Personal Baggage the liaison between industry and the community of Distington was challenging. The activities devised were there to let the villagers have a voice about living with landfill and other people’s rubbish. The workshops engaged all sectors of the community and the responses were wide ranging and reflective of the situation. The aim was not only to let the community air their views but also to let their neighbours in Copeland and Allerdale boroughs consider the impact that their waste habits had on others. The exhibition toured around the council areas in locations that were accessible to a wide range of the public. Venues included; village halls, civic halls, heritage centers and schools. Local groups and schools were invited to visit the exhibition and engage through a series of talks and workshops held at the exhibition venues. Visitors were surveyed and an evaluation document was produced which measured the impact on visitors. . (For more information refer to Residencies pages – Personal Baggage, and follow the link www.copelandbc.gov.uk/personalbaggage )
- Why do you often choose to work with waste material?
The creation of beautiful objects is not the goal of my practice. Materials that have had a previous life I find to be the most creatively challenging as it is the journey of transformation that keeps me stimulated. It often calms my conscience about creating more ‘stuff’ as it seems less invasive than utilising virgin stock.
- Do you find that you are drawn to a particular material?
There is not a palette of materials that I adopt repeatedly, but instead materials are selected as appropriate to address the issue. Consequently, no type of material is excluded for consideration – the palette to date includes compost, old plastic, recycled and scrap metal, discarded foam, scrap cardboard and paper, wood scraps, discarded textiles and recycled glass.
- Are there any problems in working with waste materials?
Working with old materials presents many problems and developing ways of managing and overcoming these has become essential. Firstly, an expectation that the finished work should be perfect is unrealistic because the materials are usually damaged, soiled and irregular. Source and supply is a major challenge, especially for work which employs multiples of materials. For example, in the chesterfield sofa for ‘Wasted’, “Are you sitting comfortably?” 15,000 old plastic carrier bags were sorted through in order to find 10,000 suitable to use. Negotiations were made with Safeway supermarket in order to collect enough old bags left by customers. (For more information refer to Residencies pages – Wasted)
- Which aspect of the waste problem most interests you?
The reluctance of acceptance of a personal responsibility by the individual, for their own waste, is an issue that particularly intrigues me. This is a major facet of the waste problem. We all toil to purchase possessions then tire of them so easily and bizarrely bury them in the ground! Ironically, in the end we are all buried in the earth.
- Do you enjoy working on collaborative projects?
I happily embrace the notion of working collaboratively on projects and often choose to engage other artists in order to add another dynamic to the work. The interaction can work on many levels and is often invigorating and challenging.
For example I have a lead artist role with several Creative Partnerships schools where my philosophy of reaping the manifold benefits of incorporating other art forms into projects is practiced. (For more information refer to ‘Projects and Residencies’ pages or for more information about Creative Partnerships follow link www.creative-partnerships.com ).
- Why did you decide to write a book about sculpture?
The rationale for researching and writing ‘Textile Perspectives in Mixed-Media Sculpture’ arose out of a personal requirement for a distillation of thought that sought to situate my practice in the world of contemporary art. The nature of most artists is to resist categorisation and it is only those outside the immediate practicing circle that demand, for their own convenience, a naming of what artists do and in what context they practice. Knowing that my own idiom balanced on the interface of sculpture and textile art – the opportunity to research a book presented a way to not only discover other practitioners who were also in this position, but also to give precious time to contextualising the work in a wider discourse.
The absence of any publication that discussed these crossovers further awakened my interest to investigate and document a burgeoning area of art. (For more information about my book refer to Publication pages and visit www.crowood.com )
- Stroke association 2010 – life after a stroke art club project – leading a group looking at expressing themselves through a wide range of artistic media after suffering a stroke. Focus on drawing and painting with some experimental work in clay and plaster.
- Youth Re:action team 2006-2009 – the idea of regeneration init a wildest sense is embraced in projects focusing on both inner and outer worlds that individual experience through reflective and tangible means. This manifests in dynamic interfaces between different age and aspiration groups.
- Creative partner ships-
- 2009-10 Dowdales school,dalton, cumbria
- 2010 Henshaw first school and whitfield first school, Northumberland
- 2008-10 Caldew lea primary school, Carlisle
- 2008-09 viewpoint project,penington primary school, ulverston
- -2008 Montreal primary C of E school
- -Lead creative, creative [artneships cumbria 2005-07 regeneration projects
- creative partnership north and south Tyneside health initiative 2007-07
Jac has been invalid with many more projects, reading through she should be proud of her achievements and how much she has helped other but as a designer her business dent really inspire me or motivate me to knowing how to go about making a career out of my design skills.