I have 30 years experience as a professional artist and 20 years experience as an arts facilitator which includes being a qualified teacher (all age ranges & sectors), tutor, mentor, consultant and producer.
Initially I developed and led community workshops and provided developing portfolio support for people applying to university. I also provided training for staff in schools relating to the role of arts to explore multiculturalism, for providing a different way of thinking and learning, and as a tool for problem solving and as a means of bringing people together.
I then went on to develop a CIC (Community Interest Company) called Fable which I ran as Project Co-ordinator. It employed other freelance artists and craftspeople to assist the well-being and give skills to all people but particularly adults with additional needs. I not only wrote successful funding applications from the National Lottery but was also successful in gaining Council tenders for running arts for health & well-being at Fable and other arts organisations including a mental health charity Towers Above. It also assisted Telford Council in developing strategies for their cultural and carers sectors.
From this, I went on to found another community organisation called Creative Folk which I ran for 18 months before passing on the role. It is now known as Broseley Life Skills. During my time leading this organisation I engaged adults with additional needs through PIP payments from Shropshire and Telford Councils, enabling them to be involved in creative activities. I also established an arts group called Variant Enigmas that was a ‘serious’ arts training space for artists of all abilities, going on to develop a series of exhibitions for the group in local spaces.
Currently I lead a community group called FOLK that has run activities and events in ‘hard to reach’ communities in Shropshire. It employs local artists to run activities in local communities and was made possible through Staffordshire Council community ‘Tampon Tax’ funding. It also supports local village halls and communities, valuing individuals’ needs when living in rural isolated places. The group has gone on to run a series of events I have produced including a FOLK-lore festival in 2019. Most recently in March 2020 I achieved funding from National Lottery Community Funding for the group for a digital project to share folklore through creative activities via social media. It has employed 16 artists and reached over 8,000 people.
I now also support artists making applications to Arts Council England through Access Support Funding and have achieved over £150,000 of funding for individual artists over the last 18 months. They have gone on to run successful projects sometimes with additional support from myself.
My work as an Arts Consultant involves making clients aware of funding opportunities and assisting them, advising them in best practice and opportunities for sharing with particularly community and new and developing audiences, creating and developing projects. As an Arts Producer I have helped numerous artists with developing projects, identifying further training, developing and ensuring accessibility, project evaluation, studio/practice support, environmental sustainability and enabling collaboration and connections
I am approached by many individuals and organisations in need of a bit of experienced advice including Telford, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Oswestry town council, as well as breadth of artists from all art forms including poets, authors, actors, visual artists, storytellers, musicians and conceptual artists. Some of the recent projects I have worked on are; The Severn Gorge Arts Trail, Arts Festival at Maws Heritage Centre, Arts Festival at a community charity in Broseley, ‘Growing Space’ a place to grow as a person through gardening and creative activities at Broseley Life Skills, Folklore Festival at Acton Scott Heritage Farm (working with Shropshire Council) and other creative activities, ‘Kindful Cafe’s’ taking creative activities into small communities in rural locations, and most recently developing creative sharing events online with FOLK community group. All of these projects not only benefit audiences and participants but also employed many local artists.
More recently I have also concentrated on my personal arts career. I do occasionally exhibit at The Willow Gallery, The Granary Gallery and Oswestry Heritage Centre relating to my folklore illustrations. My ‘fine art’ paintings are available to purchase usually through contacting me to see my latest work.
I have received my own Arts Council Funding for a project that brought folklore and my artwork together called ‘Medgel- Portrait of a Witch’. I was also one of one hundred lead artists working with Artichoke Productions relating to the Processions project, celebrating 100 years of women’s right to vote. I collaborated with DASH (Disability Arts Shropshire) to engage over 150 women in making for this.
I still like to do a bit of teaching to keep my skills attuned and because I love teaching. I have recently run a few workshops at a lovely project called Boundary Way which is a community allotment on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. I have also spent a year working together with a group of artists at Shropshire Council run Acton Scott Historic Farm to engage people with folklore through activities. Check out my workshops and talks to see what other training I can offer.
Finally I have developed a small publishing business Talking Trees Books that publishes folklore related materials and has as its flagship product The Country Wisdom & Folklore Diary which is now in its 10th year of publication. I have been an avid collector of Folklore since a child and wanted to find a way to make it stay in the public focus in a palatable and interesting way.