‘A lot of my art and my thinking is about transformation’.
What is your art practice?
My art is derived from textiles, costumes and embroidery, mixed with shamanic practice of making totems and talismans. It’s very spiritual, mixed in with textile art but not exclusively. Quite a lot of my work is about portraits of myself. It’s a mixture of Voodoo and Khali. I try and mix the flavours together. I’m really interested in colour and how controversial it is. Black seems uniform to me.
Who influenced you work?
People like Frida Kahlo. Russo inspires me and Leonardo da Vinci is completely amazing.
Fashion and couture also interests me, especially spectacle, theatre and dance. I like the 1980’s and the 1930’s; all that history and how people lived, as well as the animal kingdom, witchcraft and making your own spells. I’m inspired by words, and I use a lot of this at the moment like on my Barbarian Jacket. It all tells a story. I love voodoo and when cultures mix, like when Christianity is used and subverted. I’m very fond of the old Testament; it’s darker and weirder and holds the magic system within it. A lot of my art and my thinking is about transformation. It is really about what I make because what I make is the most beautiful thing about me.
Which artist do you admire and wish you could have been?
There are so many. Hogarth was amazing. My boyfriend, who died, introduced me to Hogarth and wow. I wish i could do that kind of thing; all the engravings like ‘A Rake’s Progress.’ They tell this story and are all encompassing. Everything means something. Grayson Perry really inspires me. I was always told ‘jack of all trades master of none’ but all those things are tools. What is you is what you make, therefore techniques and equipment are just tools. Woodwork and needlework are just tools. With Grayson Perry he mixed everything up, on the pots are engravings, and scratchings – he showed me that it’s the end result and I’m inspired by that. Vivienne Westwood. One painting that inspired me early on was ‘portrait of a german officer’ which I saw in Berlin. It’s abstract, with all the colours and it blew my mind. It really changed the way I made stuff. You can take the flavours of people and put them together as a portrait.
Is there a piece of work you wish you had never made and why?
No. The pieces I’ve made that I don’t like I think it’s alright to just change things. I used to be really precious about everything but now I’m very free to go in and change a piece and make it completely different. So things that don’t make me happy I just change. I re-make them and they they blend into other things.
If time and money were no object what would you make?
I would get a team of people to help me produce what I really wanted to produce. I find it very frustrating as an artist that you can only make one thing at a time. These jackets I do take a couple of weeks. I did a shirt that was ongoing for three months. I’m trying to develop my sewing as a painterly quality but it’s really difficult because sewing takes so long. I have the spontaneous outburst and it takes the next few weeks carrying it out. It’s annoying and frustrating. If time and money were no object I’d have computerised embroidery machines and three people working for me…actually make it five.
What would you change about the art school system and why, apart from the fees?
If you’re an artist you’re an artist so all of that is irrelevant to me. Although, saying that, I’ve always had a secret desire to go to Central St Martins and do a fashion course. I think I’m good enough now and I think it would help propel me into the world. But really, I think if you’re an artist you just do it. Teaching yourself is way more fun.