November 2018


On Being An Artist is an exhibition at Artcore Derby, that brings together the six Document artists for a group exhibition marking the end of the two-year CVAN East Midlands Document project.

‘For two and a half years the six East Midlands-based artists have shared their lives with each other and the public, exploring aspects of pursuing a career as an artist, from funding and career direction to self-doubt and work/life balance. The project sought to explore their motivations, shine a light on their creative processes, and give an insight into how they pursue their practices. Crucially, it aimed to present an honest portrait of what lies beneath art produced in the East Midlands, from the artist’s point of view.’ [Artcore website]

I am exhibiting work alongside Andrew Bracey, Jessica Harby, Tracey Kershaw, Geoff Litherland and Kajal Nisha Patel.

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Keep out of sight–keep more out of sight–keep still more out of sight is an ongoing project that examines a personal history and memory of my maternal romany gypsy family history. I have taken a tentative and oblique approach, exploring memories and objects from my childhood that are associated with charms, luck and chance.

For gypsies, the pied wagtail is an omen of good luck and “if you meet a wagtail on the road you will see a true born romany before many minutes have passed.”

Since early 2018 I have been channelling my childhood experience of being an RSPB Young Ornithologist by documenting my sightings of wagtails on my phone, logging each sighting and noting time, location, my activity, weather, and bird behaviour.

Each sighting and recording of a wagtail is an avowal: evidence of identity, belonging and resilience.

Keep out of sight

From The Stopping Places (2018), by Damian Le Bas:

“For the Gypsies of Britain, black-and-white animals seem possessed of a special importance, a different aura. It is thought that this stark differentiation in the colouring of an animal’s feathers or fur symbolises the separation of good and evil, and whether or not this is true, it is consistent with the Gypsy tendency to polarise: to draw a stark dividing line. […] Travellers sometime refer to the pied wagtail as the ‘Gypsy bird’, and used to believe that if you saw a wagtail then you’d bump into fellow Gypsies later that day. Not only is the wagtail black and white, but it’s also one of the smallest birds that often walks instead of hopping along the ground, which gave the Travellers another affinity with it in their long past as largely pedestrian nomads before the acquisition of engines.”