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The Art of Seeing the Potential in (Nearly) Everything

When I worked purely in textiles, if I wanted to make something, I would simply take a trip to the shops.

Since stumbling upon several rolls of vintage bus tickets (and turning them into caricatures waiting at bus stops) my creative journey has turned upside down, I've won 1st prize in Eco Create, a competition for upcycling artists and have featured in "Reloved Magazine"  a monthly "glossy" that promotes upcycling. 

It's a constant joke that nothing in my house is safe; maps, lolly pop sticks, personal protection masks, bike cogs...they're all fair game, and they're used in a way that is sympathetic to their original purpose.

I'll be talking about the joys of working with found objects, why I prefer  working with them, and how I decide what  they will become, as well as discussing some of the upcycling art networks that exist and some of the challenges of working with found materials.

Along the way I'll share a few tales about some of the unusual finds that I've come across, some of the unusual requests I've had, along with some of the things that I've been offered but thought it wise to turn down.


Paper Scissors Sewn

Despite collage having a rich history in the art world, it is often seen as somewhat inferior to painterly arts, perhaps because most of us stop gluing and sticking things down at primary school, but that's the very reason that I love it, there are no "learned" rules and anything is possible. 

Without collage I couldn't  create "glass windows" with people peering out at the rain, or pictures of people puzzling at maps, where the maps have actual folds and are curled up at the edges.  I wouldn't be able to work as interactively with commissions as I do, allowing people to make changes as though they were working with digital media, nor would I be able to include their heirlooms and memories. 

In this talk I'll explain how I stumbled upon collage as my preferred art form, and why it's the medium that's truly helped me find my voice.


From Pills to Frills. Transferable Skills

I was once told that most people  have an average of five careers in a lifetime.  Well I think I'm pretty much there...I've been a pharmacy technician (dressing in a space suit and making nutrition bags for unconscious patients), a sexual health trainer (driving around with boxes of condoms in the car boot - and "yes" it was slightly awkward at times), a Teenage Pregnancy Co-ordinator, (yes that job title really does exist) and a textiler, before becoming an artist working in collage with found materials.

Of course there is less that connects the roles, than connects them (I can't think of an instance in my new role where it would ever be appropriate to advise someone to get "checked out"), but surprisingly I have been able to draw on many of my old skills

This will be an autobiographical talk pulling out some of the highlights of the life of a sexual health worker turned artist, and looking at how I got there.

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