My questionnaire from Visual Voice International who scammed me

It’s quite insightful to be honest now looking back their questions are generic, but they did help me to frame my understanding of my work.

At the moment I have been doing a lot of writing about my practice, this is hard for artists to do but I think it’s really rewarding because it gives you direction and focus to your present work.

1). What are the primary concepts and focus of your art and do these ideas relate to your medium, and creative process.

My primary concepts are always intrinsic to my life, they are self-expressions, a visual diary of how I make sense of the world.

Being a Girl collection 2003 was fundamentally a visual commentary of what it was like being a girl, and becoming a woman. How as a girl we are nurtured and protected but with the insipid nature of fear and predatory tension which are shared at a young age through the form of fables and fairy tales and cultural norms. At the time Being A Girl was produced in early 2000 ladette culture in the UK was sold as being a hedonistic liberal expression. The clothes we wore were cheaply produced which meant nights out included a new item of clothing never worn twice. The costume of life was now cheap to obtain without contemplating the implications on the environment and safe working conditions. Social influencers were not yet born and the gaze of the hypnotic screen was in its infancy.

The concepts that unfolded from then were truths about hidden history, relating directly to my family. The collection Nurtured in Concrete Form 2007, unveiled hidden family history relating to Catholicism, migration from Ireland to Wales, mental health, poverty, hope, secrets and lies. At the time this body of work was produce my maternal Grandmother was in the early stages of dementia and I began to focus directly upon my witness to her being and how she changed of which the project Age & Legacy took root.

Fundamentally I always been an artist that produces art from an instinctive process, my medium has always been photography, whether that is by its inception of using 35mm film to capture an image and then print in the darkroom. To the abundance of the digital image and its instant access to cut and paste to form part of a painting.

My new body of work called Hollywood which has been in spired by retired Welsh journalist and broadcaster whom I had the privilege record his oral history which has been incredibly insightful and remarkable to listen to.

2). Which artists are you inspired and influenced by

Osi Rhys Osmond who taught me the beauty of drawing and that an artist’s occupational hazard is procrastination, in my many amazing conversations with Osi he said” Sheree what are you waiting for just go and do it!” 

Andy Warhol who gave me the understanding that what we surround ourselves by can influence our tastes, choices and consumption.

Yayoi Kusama who taught me art is not just a picture on a wall but that we can immerse ourselves within it. 

Cindy Sherman who taught me the stereotypes we accept often go unchallenged.

Walker Evans taught me to question if the photographer is subjective or objective. 

Larry Clarke taught me to challenge our social consciousness and question the norms of society that often go unnoticed.

Harmony Korine who taught me how to capture beauty within the strange.

Vivian Rhule who showed me that we all have our creative materials at our finger tips, you don’t need expensive art materials to make amazing art.

Rebecca Buck who told me art is a discipline some of us are born with a natural talent to draw and some of us need to work a little harder but we all born with the ability to draw.

Jean Michel Basquiat taught me that the canvas to a painting can be anything, open your eyes to the world around you and see the gifts waiting to be turned into works of art.

Stuart Leyshon taught me that everyone has a story to tell you just need to make the time to listen to it.

3). Which of your works stands out as a highlight, a favourite, or significant point in your creative growth and development and why?

A piece of work that pops into my mind straight away is one of the very first photographs while studying for my photography degree Swansea. The photograph is called “Beginning” filmic in style captured in an abandoned Welsh Chapel, with just myself, camera and tripod. The figure in the photograph is myself aged 19 years old, I remember it was a beautiful winters day. The significances of this photograph taught me that capturing a narrative that poses questions, mysteries and intrigue is a powerful concept, we don’t always need to hold all the answers.

4). What is your artist message, what do you wish to communicate to the viewer.

My ideas collide between a social and personal commentary. My message is the importance of creativity. We all have the ability to be creative, I feel fortunate to be able to use art as a tool to understand the world. We live in a time that is more controlled, watched, recorded, reproduced, consumed than ever before through the advancements of technology and science but to stop and allow the seed of creativity to flush is more important than ever before.

5). What memorable reactions have you had to your work

The most memorable reaction that has stayed with me relates to the collection called Age & Legacy a collaborative film with Rich Thair funded by the Arts Council of Wales. In 2014 my maternal Grandmother died from dementia. This body of work is my experience and understanding of how dementia can change a person. The film is primarily for carers who often go unnoticed, uncared for, only to process what they have experienced after their loved one has passed away.

When we showed Age and Legacy at The Pontardawe Arts Centre in Swansea, Wales. Our audience was invited into the dance studio where the film was projected on the whole of dance studio wall.

In the audience were health professionals, community works, artists, young people, family of relatives in early and late stages dementia and loved ones who had died from dementia. An audience member came over to me and said that it had brought him to tears, he found the experience very moving as a family member was living with dementia and he had finally felt like as a carer he was not alone. And the portrayal of dementia was expressed with a beauty and not to be afraid of but the more we share our thoughts and feeling the less stigma it will hold, the less sacred we will feel, the less isolated we will be.

When I had this conversation, I realised that Rich and I had got something. We were able to communicate through our art a concept that is from experience and that to talk and share our experiences from the platform of art is empowering, we don’t always need to use words to express how we feel but we can use the medium of art to capture feelings no words can ever do.

6). What is your dream project?

To go big, produce visual body of work that is accompanied by music, I absolutely love music, I love working with musicians. When I was in my late teens, I attended a lot raves in Welsh Valleys where music and visual images, often on 35mm slide film were the backdrop to our dancing. These creative spaces where people are brought together in nature, through music and art occupies a space that cannot be bought or owned but experienced.

I would like to collaborate with more musicians to produce visual body of work that would be used in space that people are free to dance, and be together.

7).What advice would you give to your younger or older self?

The advice I would give my younger self is not to undervalue my art, art is important. Surround yourself by positive people, believe in the power of collaboration not just with other artists but individuals from all disciplines working together is always easier than being on your own. The people who hold you back take it with a pinch of salt they will make you more determined to never give up on your creative practice.

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