Creative and Restorative Practitioner Statement
My creative practice began with experiments in constructed textiles from found fibres, mostly ghost fishing gear; an attempt to use and reform discarded plastic and synthetic waste washed up on our beaches.
More recently, the catalyst for my creative practice has been a question which has emerged through my reaction to an event, an incident, or someone’s story. The materials I use are informed by a period of research into the question, resulting in pieces that endeavour to offer a collective response. Labyrinths, labyrinthine patterns and fingerprints are design threads running through my work, alongside the marks, lines and traces we leave behind us. Much of my work is textiles and print based. These processes seem to reflect my fascination with the touch and contact we make on, and have with, surfaces as part of our lives.
Alongside my creative work, I have a restorative justice practice in which I work with people who have been affected by crime, harm or conflict, either as people harmed (victims) through it or as people responsible for causing it (offenders). I am interested in the inter-connection between design, art, restorative justice and justice more widely. My doctoral research investigates this inter-connection further, and crosses between design and restorative justice. It is broadly about the role of co-creation, making and gifting within restorative justice processes. More specifically, it is about the connections and convergences that may be experienced by restorative justice participants and whether or not a specially created hand made object can contribute to any sense of solidarity between them.
Intrinsic to my practice is working with other people and groups. Long term participatory arts projects I have been involved with are: Thames Valley Partnership, Oxfordshire Women’s Aid, Longlands Care Home, Fusion Arts, Modern Art Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, Oxford City Council, Essex County Council, the Community Mediation Team in Shetland and Space2face Restorative Justice and Arts organisation. I have carried out creative residencies with primary and secondary schools in England and Scotland and in HM Prison Bullingdon. I frequently collaborate with other creative practitioners to form and research work.
I have an exhibition, education, performance, curation and commission history as well as community and public arts management experience.
I am a creative practitioner and an accredited restorative practitioner with the Restorative Justice Council in the UK. I have been working as a restorative practitioner alongside my creative work for 19 years. In April 2017, I was awarded Arts and Humanities Research Council full-time PhD funding to investigate the potential for co-creation (making with others) and gifting within restorative justice processes. I commenced my PhD studies with Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK, in October 2017. I also currently work on a freelance basis as the Lead Restorative Artist with the Space2face Restorative Justice and Arts organisation.
I completed a Masters in Contemporary Arts and Music in 2004 at Oxford Brookes University, studying under Shelley Sacks, Ray Lee and Paul Whitty. Through this period of study, my practice began to be influenced by my participatory projects, particularly my work with the Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service (YOS) who trained me as a restorative justice practitioner. I was employed by the Oxfordshire YOS for six years (2001-2007), working alongside young people involved in offending and the people they had harmed (victims). From 2006 – 2007, Oxfordshire YOS employed me as a Creative Arts Development Worker in Youth Justice. This was a joint project with West Berkshire Youth Offending Service and one of six national pilot projects with Arts Council England and the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.
Between 2007 and 2015, I was employed as the Visual Arts Development Officer with Shetland Arts. In 2008, as part of this role, I co-founded the Space2face Restorative Justice and Arts project alongside Alyson Halcrow. We continue to jointly facilitate this project. It has been successively funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, BBC Children in Need, Creative Scotland and Shetland Arts. Space2face achieved independent charitable status in September 2016 and has been presented to several international conferences on restorative justice. We are proud to have three former clients of the project now serving as trustees. Space2face is currently part funded by the National Lottery Awards for All Community Fund.
From 2015 – 2016, I worked as a freelance consultant for the British Council as part of their ‘Canny Creatives’ project. In 2016 and 2017, I received Visual Art and Craft Awards (Creative Scotland in partnership with Shetland Arts and Shetland Islands Council) towards the development of my creative practice. In 2016, this contributed towards an exhibition of work, ‘we think back through our mothers…or do we?’, which was shown in autumn 2016 as part of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival. The exhibition process, inspired by my mother and grandmother, may be viewed on my website blog.
With thanks to Niela, Andrew, Roberto, Jono, Johnny, Silke, Gail, Barbara, John, Kristi, Alyson, Peter, James, Stephen, Gaynor, Judy, Donald, Jacqui, Amy and Ana. All of you, at different times, have constantly reminded me how much I enjoy ‘making’ and kept me in touch with my creative self.