In 2012 I received research funding from Southampton Solent University to investigate the text of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This involved analysis of the text and exploration of its themes, characters and locations in a variety of processes/media, with its’ foundation in location drawing and sketchbook work. During this period my father died and I revisited creative writing as an expressive tool and wrote a number of texts around the themes of identity, home, and family. I then began to recognize similarities between the themes I was exploring and those within “Great Expectations”, namely loss, identity, and family.
As time progressed I began to identify more and more with the location, characters and themes and noticed a synergy between those within my own writing and Dickens’ text. Just as Pip had grown up in a small village and moved away to London so had I, characters and events from my childhood were echoed within his. Then with the death of my father in 2103 I felt that I needed to reconnect with my own identity and where I came from.
I kept coming back to the landscape and connecting to it through drawing the answers seemed to be there. Drawing and documenting my childhood home and locations from the book was not only an artistic process and inspiration for new work it acted a mechanism that helped me to revisit memories and reconnect with my childhood. The landscape was transporting me back to a time before my loss and this was helping me to come to terms with his death. Drawing on location became a key aspect of my methodology with the majority of preliminary drawings for each new artwork produced on sites referenced in the texts. Whilst at each site I collected grasses and flowers, feathers and earth and used these to draw with, these drawings were not just my interpretation they were also a product of the place they were created. The place was not only inspiring the work it was now tied up with the process of making the work, these were the vital ingredients to give authenticity and capture the unique and magical quality of each location.
At first I drew in sketchbooks but as time progressed I moved on to larger and larger sheets of paper, pots of paint, from twigs and grasses to small branches as well as larger brushes. These drawings acted as a starting point for further investigation and development in the print studio at Southampton School of Art, Design and Fashion and my studio in London Fields Hackney.
In 2014 met with Kate Maple curator at The Showcase Gallery in Southampton to discuss exhibiting these new works and development of other work along these themes, this exhibition will commence in December 2016 during British Art Show8.
Final pieces are a combination of traditional and digital media. A series of books showcasing these poems andartworkss will be available to view at exhibitions and bookfairs from October 2016. This activity has been supported and developed with the aid of a Grant for the Arts from the Arts Council.