Thank you for the opportunity to discuss your art and artistic endeavors with HocTok.
Let’s begin with your Artbags. What’s the story behind how you got started on this project?
My dad was in the handbag industry all my life. I grew up with handbags; mum was an artist. So it’s a natural fusion of my two halves...my own creation. I created the first one in 2002 at Central Saint Martins art School from a designer handbag and modified the mold...artbag was born. First in Pins and plaster, then resin, then elastic and metal with a gun in it called restraint.
Do you have a favorite Artbag or do you adore them all equally?
My first bag with something in it was a goldfish, a real one. I sunk it in a square fish tank on a plinth full of water. It was called “Catch” (for women who marry for money).
What is the most fascinating Artbag commission you’ve worked on?
It’s one that I’m working on at the moment. The Mag Bag, for the Bethlem Museumof the Mind celebrating the life of Margaret Thatcher. I am also pitching for a 5 meter high bag that will be a work to celebrate the selfie that you can enter!
In addition to your Artbags you are a trained painter with an interesting body of work. Is painting your first passion when it comes to arts?
Thinking about art is my first passion. My education was rather conceptual so it all starts with the idea then I figure out the material and the method.
Does your mood influence your thematic choices or is it vice versa?
Much of my work is autobiographical, it’s what I know best. I’ve lived a few lives so I figure that I have a lot to make work about.
For your Eclipse 6 (2013), you write, “Trying to reveal the meaning of what is underneath.” Was it a philosophical conundrum that initiated this quest or was it a real life event that inspired it?
Both. I would make very personal work then cover it up with a skin of plaster. Then scratch through it in a whimsical way to create a new image. Representing the balance of inside and outside, interpretation and change.
Storm (2014) is intriguing with its colors, brushstrokes, glimmering light here and there. How did you feel when you finished this one in a fast and furious style? Complete. I love the fast approach. It’s like a burst of energy firing out of me coming from another place. I love it when this happens. Its real, unlaboured & pure. We also love your work with Mini Monets UK as an educational initiative focusing on strengthening and encouraging children’s creative skills. What’s the most rewarding feeling you’ve experienced through Mini Monets UK?
Just seeing how enthusiastic my students are to return every week and how their Saturday art school is the day of the week that they look forward to the most. They have formed new friendships and found new confidence not only for art but for their own self knowledge as this is something that I encourage.
What’s your attitude towards the role of arts in children’s lives and has it evolved because of your work with Mini Monets UK?
One thing I can tell you is that teaching keeps me fresh and in touch with not only history as I always like to stay ahead of my kids , but of the most contemporary crazes which I am privy to on a weekly basis. In my opinion, art should be learned as a 3 way process alternating between conceptual thinking, material experimentation and fundamental skills acquisition. Do you ever feel torn between dedicating more time to your personal art or to your other professional commitments?
Only very occasionally. I would like to travel more. With this in mind I hand delivered a large sculpture to Paris this week by train and motorbike, in time for a show. It was sold the very next day. This is how I balance myself out, small acts of hedonistic spontaneity.
As an artist and art educator, what do you do on a gloomy day? And on a good day?
On a gloomy day I lie in bed for a while, scroll through Facebook, plan holidays, look out the window into nature, talk to friends, plan classes, go to galleries, talk to my art dealers, buy tickets to things to cheer me up and look forward to. Sometimes, I even tackle paperwork or go to the gym and take a hot yoga class or play tennis. I’m lucky that my work involves shopping and looking in windows so that’s research. I jump on a train and head into London, meet a friend for lunch…. On a good day….I pretty much do the same thing!
What are you looking forward to in the next few days and months ahead?
I’ve got a new job that I’m planning for as part time head of Art and Design in a small private high school. I’ve got commissions to work on. I’m redesigning my garden. I have a big new event in Paris I’m working on with an exciting new agent. And it’s my son’s 10th birthday in 9 days time and I’m making him a graffiti party for his 10 top friends. I’m ALWAYS busy, and pretty much always working...I’d hate to feel bored... :)