St. James’s 1980 Leaver

After attending an Art Foundation, I went on to study a BA in 3 Dimensional Design, specialising in glass. I knew very little about glass as a material but considered it a good idea to learn something new. The key thing was I had something I needed to express and I enjoy the physicality of making things, problem solving and inventing. During this time I went on an exchange to Philadelphia and visited the Czech Republic; these experiences influenced my ideas beyond what was happening in the UK.

Although I have worked on design projects I am primarily a sculptor. Studying a material could lead you into different areas within Design or Fine Art. My best known design is the transglass project using recycled bottles. This was a design collaboration begun in 1997 and later a small factory was established in Guatemala City. Other collaborations have involved a filmmaker and performer.

In my 20s I was finding out how to make a living alongside a studio practice and started an MA at the Royal College of Art, aged 29. From this point I was on the radar and museums and private collectors bought my work. I had a representing gallery in London, Arts organisations commissioned me to make installations or exhibit and I continued a career made up of different jobs. My first studio after my MA was supported by the Crafts Council and I bought equipment enabling me to work on my own pieces and on commissions, so we hired the space out and ran workshops.

It’s a career that can be as rigorous or as light-hearted as you care to make it; a career you shape yourself. I travel a lot, mainly exhibiting, but also giving talks about my work, participating at symposiums or running workshops. Recently, for three years I worked as an Artistic Director for a glassmaking centre in Scotland, deciding their themes and conference subjects and bringing in other artists from around the world to teach or fulfil residencies.

What does success look like?

Exercising your abilities to full capacity.

What is your best piece of advice?

Don’t close doors opened to you. A need/desire to practice art is more important than an obvious talent for it.

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