Artist’s Statement, 2021.
I am an artist based in Glasgow.
I graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1982.
Although I kept working on a small scale when I had children, I am only now getting into my stride and producing new work consistently.
The majority of what I do is figurative. This work has taken up a lot of the last ten years; it is something I feel most passionate about, drawing the human condition and writing about the people I meet to make a rounded portrait, beyond stereotypes and preconceptions.
If I was to sum up the experiences of working on my two residencies, it would be to say
Eye-opening, mind boggling, joyous, humbling, moving and exhilarating.
Between 2011 and 2019 I worked on a collection of portrait drawings that became a book about the refugee/ immigrant experience. Despite the difficulties involved in dealing with large groups and the painful experiences that were sometimes disclosed, it stuck in my mind that poetry and beauty must be part of the message and it’s a way of bringing attention to the issues.
However hard that is to do, the poetry has to be intrinsic. It takes a great deal of resolve to do this.Those who took part, between 2011 and 2019, in the integration network project were determined to be part of an artistic enterprise. ( It surprised me that art is so highly regarded around the world. For an artist that’s good to know.)
The determination exhibited by many of the people who were involved in the refugee drawing project had helped them survive unimaginable things; torture and genocide, loss of family members; it was a big responsibility to make sure everyone felt included and valued. Everyone ( and the children especially) had been through a lot. The drawings were an affirmation that
“I am not just a form at the Home Office.”
“I’m getting my portrait made, something normal, something people might do on holiday. “ The portraits. when we had enough, were to be exhibited at Glasgow University. In 2017 we had our first exhibition at the University. Other exhibitions followed.. I was invited to talk about the work in Chicago at the International Conference of Europeanists..
Later I was invited to give talks in Madrid, Reykjavik and Montreal. There is a book about the project “ Notions of Freedom. “ a collection of 1,000 drawings and stories.
My residency with Fortune Works is a labour of love.
We have done some great work together. This is also a documentation of life stories and it is important because it sends a clear message that the portraits are of real people, with dreams and relationships and interests, charm and humour. They just happen to be disabled.
It is my most optimistic work. It may not be to everyone’s taste; that’s not the artist’s job! It stands as a testament to the human spirit, to what we can learn from the learning disabled, thoughtfulness, wisdom, humility, that everyone is vulnerable to some degree and that it’s not such a bad thing to be.
At Fortune Works we also come together to be sociable and have fun. And do interesting things, like getting your portrait drawn, and being in an exhibition that is seen around the world. It is a special experience. FortuneWorks is truly Inspirational!