This blog is to document and reflect on my creative practice throughout 2023 as a result of being awarded DYCP funding - Arts Council England funding for 'Developing Your Creative Practice'. 

This funding will see my through a year of my own bespoke proposed programme for creative development, beginning with a research and development phase between January - March, meeting with mentors and fellow artists for guidance, developing ideas and putting plans in place for residencies throughout the year. April - August is the Making Phase, consisting of studio time, networking and residencies including the Birth Rites Summer School and a bespoke two week residency in Stroud at The Hide, an artist retreat run by artist Alice Shepard Fiddler. September - December will be the Sharing Phase, possibly involving an exhibition or sharing of some kind at Bricks in Bristol, final mentoring sessions and write up of the year's process. 

January kicked into gear with my first session of mentoring with Helen Knowles, artist, curator and director of the Birth Rites Collection, the only collection of contemporary art about birth and new motherhood in the world, housed at The University of Kent in Canterbury. 

Helen met me just off the London train in Canterbury and we walked up the hill to the university in the chilly sunshine, puffed out from already exciting conversations and the rather steep incline. 

As the first session of the year, my questions for Helen were rather vague and open, inviting a more informal conversation around the practices of participation in relation to contemporary art. Throughout the day our conversation included discussions on making money as an artist, making art about money; birth stories and making art about birth; spirituality and researching spirituality; working creatively with universities; and how to display, store, transport and exhibit participatory and other art around the world. 

The collection includes over 100 artworks on birth and new parenthood, featuring artists such as Judy Chicago, Tabitha Moses, Dominika Dzikowska and many other pioneering artists exploring, visualising and dissecting this vital topic. 

Having worked with universities on many creative projects over the years, it was strangely reassuring to see the evidence of the institution and the art brushing against each other - from the patches of paint peeling off above 'controversial' images where coverings have been taped over for public occasions, to beautifully profound pieces being partially hidden behind moveable presentation screens, coffee machines and printers as students filed past for interviews in the medical school. The academic and the art world colliding is a subject of ongoing curiosity for me.

Helen was wonderfully incisive and generously gave me her views and feedback on various projects and my approaches to making art. Key takeaways from the day included:

  • Looking into creating artist books as outputs of my creative practice.
  • Developing a reading list for the year.
  • Connecting with curators / PhD curators looking to work with social practice artists.
  • Continuing to work on a family tree of my artworks to visualise and map out their connections.
  • To rewrite my artist statement with a renewed focus on key avenues in my practice.