At the core of my art is a strong connection to nature
The spirits of animals and plants, landscape, stones, the sea and the elements. My art is about pattern recognition, weaving dreams, stories and images into a whole.
Beyond that I am struggling to put my art and spirituality into words.
I love the sea and the sound of waves pulling back and pebbles surging and crashing
Stones, pebbles and fossils are a constant inspiration, their shapes, marks and patterns. The Thames foreshore, stones, bones, seaglass, a sense of history and wonder in everything you find.
I love it when ideas come together
Sometimes this takes a long time, an idea is there and waiting but it will not manifest. It can be frustrating, and sometimes the ideas are dormant for weeks, months, sometimes years; until somethings shifts, and the idea suddenly is clear. If a piece works, it feels fantastic.
And looking at such finished work where I feel nothing needs to be changed but it simply ‘is’, it is deeply satisfying.
I grew up with German expressionism; August Macke, Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner, Franz Marc, Paula Modersohn-Becker.
I love Japanese woodcuts (Hokusai, Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi)
I find their perfection of technique astonishing, and their depiction of natural phenomena sometimes leaves an ache in me, a tinge of sadness as I know I will never come close to emulating that perfection and beauty.
Sybil Andrews has had a big influence on my linocut art. Her lines, movement and sense of landscape are something I continue to aspire to.
Joseph Beuys, Rebecca Horn; Yayoi Kusama – her infinity mirror rooms probably have had a big impact on my obsession with mirrored images.
Picasso’s animal sculptures, his ability to capture the essence of animals; and his humour; the sculptures of Jean Miro, Alexander Calder, Leonora Carrington, Niki de Saint Phalle; the Nanas and her Tarot Garden. Max Ernst, Remedios Varo. The sculptures of Nicola Hicks and Paloma Varga Weisz.
The need to be creative has never left me
When I was 16 I spent a year as an exchange student in the United States. I took loads of art classes in high school and loved it. After my exchange I went back to Germany and graduated from high school followed by art school. I found that formal art education did not particularly agree with me. It was not a good period in my life, a lot of painful stuff happened.
Bones are what remains of us all. Death, beyond death, beauty of death
In Art School, I became fascinated with bones. We were supposed to model a skull in clay, with a choice of horse, cow or human. Observing the beauty of skulls, seeing the shapes, angles, ins and outs, concave and convex, the fine lines, fine ridges.
I have spent a lot of time with bones on the Thames foreshore, sifting through bones, sitting in piles of bones.
The waves tinkling and playing with pieces of ceramics. The bones jingling, hollow and resonant musical instruments. Bone mother. A comfort in bones.
Stones of Hope
Often I become interested in a particular animal because of dreams or journeys
Once an animal catches my attention, I immerse myself in their natural history and mythology
I read stories and books about them, watch videos and look at countless photographs to get an idea of their movements, their fur, skin, musculature, typical postures, and I fill notebooks with sketches.
When fascinated with an animal, I become obsessed for a while; in the end some stay with me, others float away
Some of the animals that I love are crows, bears, otters, seals, badgers, foxes, wolves. And owls. I always return to owls.
Once the idea is there, definitely ‘there’ and it just needs to be executed, I have to stay in the flow of it, and I might listen to something to support the feel of artwork.
If I could give advice to myself as a young artist, I would say:
If you do decide to go for an art degree, research the schools and the teachers. If you have a choice go for a teacher whose work you adore and whose opinions you respect.
I love being in flow and being creative. It’s an imperative…I can’t not do it
Art school left me feeling bruised, hurt, raw and full of self-doubt. I tried to turn away from ‘art’ after this. Very soon I started scribbling away, with a biro, nearly in a secretive way. Biro doodles weren’t ‘art’, so I was safe.
I filled notebook after notebook. A few years later I started creating linocuts, as they felt playful. They were not something I had done at college, not something that was overlayed with my professors’ critical comments.
During lockdown, I found it important to carve out physical routines for myself
Routines of beauty. I went to our local museum gardens nearly every morning in spring and summer and had breakfast in the sunken garden. I watched the spring display blossom into full bloom until it started withering and decaying. It was gorgeous and poignant in all its stages.
I went for a few twilight owl walks and heard owls and even got to see one or two. Total win!
I also found comfort in my artwork, entering a state of playfulness, creating non-obvious narratives. Narratives that I would like to be told.
I find creative flow is not a state that I am guaranteed to enter but when it does happen it is wonderful.
I noticed that I needed a near-constant supply of home-baked cake for most of last year. I had a period of cake-overload post-Christmas but have just made the first cake of the new year.
I enjoyed making wyrd lockdown recipes due to a lack of ordinary flour
My favourite was: Linzertorte, which is an Austrian hazelnut cake with cinnamon, cloves and raspberry jam and chickpea flour, a perfect combination.
I enjoyed getting out of my head and back into my body. In the evenings I’ve been regularly practicing a Karate ‘breathing kata’. It’s soothing and good before going to sleep.
Some of Hookland Guide’s words reach right into my core
There are quotes that I feel compelled to find a visual solution for; the Carousels of Luna Park, the Empress Eel, the ghostly trees on Pony Hills, the Ruffled Fox, the Bone Bear. Utterly inspiring and at the same time not always easy to manifest.
If I were to speak to my younger self, I would tell her: it is okay to be vulnerable
Be kind to yourself. Trust your vision even if you cannot sell it, even if it does not manifest in money, even if you cannot voice it to others. Be gentle with yourself. Learn to let go of unhelpful crap.
Also, I would give her a big list of don’ts…
- Don’t listen to the fears of others.
- Don’t believe that because others tell you that something is hard, that it will be hard for you too.
- Don’t trust the judgement and opinions of people you don’t respect in turn.
- Don’t measure yourself according to other people’s ideas of what being an artist means.
- Don’t believe in others’ ideas of ‘success’.
One group whose music I return to again and again is Wardruna
They make music that is powerful, raw, circular, soaring, trance inducing, many-layered.
Although, I don’t think of myself as somebody who likes music. I find it easily distracting and irritating. Lyrics get in the way of my thought processes. Also, I tend to over-listen to music until it is spoiled, overfamiliar.