PDP: Reflection of the Year.

Just before I get started:

This year has been an absolute whirlwind. It’s safe to say the time has come and gone just as everyone seemed to warn me it would before moving to university. However third year for me has been the most important. I personally have had one of the hardest years to date, and that is due to losing my Grandfather in March this year, just before easter break. For me this was make or break time; I was at such a high and important point within my work and for me time just seemed to stop and disappear. I didn’t think that I could get anything finished in time, and I thought I would be graduating alone in November. But I managed to work through this, using my Grandfather as my inspiration and just wanting to get it done for him, but not without the help of Amelia. She has been my absolute rock through this immensely stressful time, being the one I could run to seeing as I do not have any family with me in Cardiff, so for that I am extremely grateful, because now I am finishing on time, comfortably and (kind of) calm.


I felt as though I hit the ground running when beginning this year. I had spent the summer reading for my dissertation and working on an intricate and detailed drawing of a baby in the womb. It was through this drawing that I realised that this is the subject matter that I wanted to be focussing on throughout my final year: The human body. When I began to delve into this subject matter, I mostly focused on how we are held together and all those tiny little details and systems in our body that we don’t usually give thought to daily. Beginning to draw away from the physical and delving into the scientific, I soon found myself focussing greatly on the cells that make us up. However, I didn’t focus too heavily on the scientific side of these subjects, instead I headed down the aesthetic road, trying to highlight the beauty of these microscopic critters. However, this work had no context, and all I was simply doing is telling you it was beautiful. I wasn’t until I took a day trip to London to visit the Hunterian museum that I realised just what my work was missing. I found myself looking at all sorts of specimens, but mostly cancer. There were masses of different cancers in jars that had been sliced in half. Being able to look inside of the masses, I had a glimpse of how they grow and live, and it was at this point where I knew this would be my focus point. From here onwards I found myself dealing with an extremely sensitive and delicate subject matter that I had to be conscious of as I go through with creating this work. As time developed I found myself working with materials that coincide with feelings of warmth, comfort and ‘home’, such as knitting together wools, threads and surface materials, hoping to combine this with the subject matter to create pieces that induce feelings of relaxation and calmness. By doing this, I hoped that my work would entice an audience that will further spark a conversation about the disease. My aim throughout this year was to raise conversation and awareness to further help with understanding the disease. I soon found that the materials I was using weren’t going to achieve what I needed, and I found it extremely difficult to create pieces of work. I attempted to knit and crochet ‘cuddly’ cancerous tumours, using the colours and patterns to create them in a way that made them approachable and not intimidating to the eye. But these materials just didn’t work well, and I found myself at a loose end.


After many tutorials and a christmas ‘break’, I seemed to have had an epiphany. I was extremely happy with the subject matter and it took me a while to find my ‘why?’ for the work, but I needed to work on changing my materials. I spoke with Amelia and Martyn about working with clay to create ceramic work. It was through the process of trying to work with wool that I realised I wanted to made 3D work, I just was using the wrong resources. Switching to clay seemed to be the right decision for the subject matter. When relating the subject matter back to my work, it grew extremely apparent how important this relationship is. Using ceramics gives the work a new level of value. Once fired and glazed, ceramics become extremely delicate and fragile, if knocked, bashed or dropped will end in breakages. When handling these objects you naturally handle them care in order to avoid any of the above, and this is a precious aspect for my work. I quickly learnt that this was what was missing from the knitted work. Still being able to work with bright and beautiful colours, I seemed to have found another important part of my work. Once all 6 of my ceramic tumours were fired, I began the glazing process. This process is extremely unpredictable yet on the other hand it is extremely unique. Having the rooted fear of the unknown and being very unsure if the tumours would survive the glazing process in the kiln, seemed to relate back to the human and having that fear of how badly this disease will affect you. Once they came out of the kiln they all have grown their own unique characteristics through the firing process. This is either where the glaze surface bubbled, flooded or pooled, they became completely unique. This as a process was extremely tedious, tiring and intricate but I am extremely happy with this route I decided to take. I then took these ceramic tumours once finished and photographed them in the everyday. I wanted to highlight that unfortunately cancer is a very big part of our everyday lives now, and for some follow you on your day to day routines, but I wanted to question just how much we talk, share and exploit the disease. Through a series of photographs printed into a A5 book, I captured natural movements with only slight snippets of human interactions highlighting how we handle the subject, either with somebody or alone. Through these photos I realised how important this project became to me. I began to realise that if this body of work could somehow aid someone in their recovery, or sparked a conversation they were yet to be able to share, my work will have done the job. I quickly understood that my ceramic pieces needed the book to be with it in the show as this gives it the context it had been lacking throughout the year, finally finding my ‘why?’.



An exhibition of 16 Illustrators over 2 separate weeks.


All 16 Ilustrators

Something pretty magical has been happening over these past few months, in and amongst all this commotion, stress and trouble. (There’s some good things happening going on too, not all bad). A good amount of us illustrators decided to get together and see if we can create something magical between us, and we chose to do this in Bristol. It had been spoken of briefly at the beginning of the year, and began to materialise as we got closer to christmas. We had to began thinking about which venue we wanted to use so that we could get some dates set in stone and so that we could finally start working towards something. Eventually we found a nice range of galleries in bristol that were able to exhibit all 16 of us. Af few of us went down to Bristol and decided to check these places out and get a feel of which one will be most suitable for the exhibition we’d like to show. For the people that couldn’t make the trip down to check them out, the others took photographs in order to show the others once they get home.

In the end, we decided to go for PAPER Arts. This venue is extremely central to Bristol and right next to Cabot Circus shopping centre and car park, so it’s a great location to have an exhibition. We emailed PAPER Arts to see what a weekly package included so that we could get an understanding of how much money we will be needing for the show. For that venue, it would be £200 a week, with 0% commission on all artwork, so the artist takes 100% profit. They offer assistance during the installation of the show and free invigilating throughout the show. This is handy for us seeing as we are all in the depts of finishing up our years work, so we will gain back some of our time that we thought we would be losing. They also provide A2 gallery posters and wall stickers from the designs of the posters we make. There’s also an opportunity for a personal artist interview  and social media coverage on PAPER Arts online platforms. This enables us to get a lot more coverage for our show and hopefully increase our number of viewers. If we decide to go with PAPER Arts, they give us20% discount on all fine art and printing services. Again, this will definitely benefit the vast majority of us who will want to print copies of their work to sell, or even for the exhibition work itself.

Jamie Stevenson kept on top of all of the organising for this degree show, with help from the most of us. He kept in close contact with the gallery and eventually we had 2 weeks booked in at PAPER Arts. 30th of March until the 13th of April. The thing with this venue is that it couldn’t really fit more than 7-8 people at a time (depending on the sizing of the work), so we therefore had to book two weeks, one after the other, and have two shows under the same title. This also means that we will then have 2 opening nights and 2 closing nights. When it came to paying for this adventure, we did what we do best and began making and baking. We figured out that for the 2 weeks, at £200 a week and then adding on costs for the music, alcohol, snacks and so on, we would be looking at around £700. We divided this by 16 and it came to £43, suggesting we pay that out of our own pockets to put towards the show. We decided that if we got some bake sales in there we would probably be able to cut that in half, and not be so out of pocket ourselves. We eventually managed to cut this down, and instead everyone was asked to pay £25 each instead of £43. A nice saving.

The next thing we had to do is think about themes and titles for the show. Some people already had previous completed work that they wanted to put in the show, and others were creating something new. Originally we were running with the name and theme ‘Inside / Outside’; we decided to have two titles names mixed into one separated by ‘/’ to highlight that there will be two consecutive weeks. We decided this would just be a starting point and imagined that when peoples work began to develop more and we began to see what people were creating, we would be able to better define our title. After this process, we finally came up with out title. WITHIN / WITHOUT. After deciding this, a brief described of the show was sent off to be included in their brochure:“The emphasis is on illustrative work that looks sensitively at both personal and social issues; exploring both the inner world of body and mind, and the outer world of human action and interaction.” We thought this would be an extremely good title, as it can be interpreted however; thoughts, dreams, the conscious and subconscious it taken more literally and showing in the inside and outside of something and so on. Now that we have finally got the title of our show, we began to put a poster together. Originally we were going to design it ourselves, and Sara Christova stepped forward and offered to design it. Anyhow, some time passes and Jamie asked the lovely people at PAPER Arts what we should do about the poster and they kindly offered to design it for us. They asked for a few photos of peoples work to include on the poster, so my work along with a few others were sent off. Here’s what we received back!

bristol poster 2

Bristol Poster


We were all extremely happy with the poster. One thing we were worried about was being able to make clear that there would be two separate open evenings for the beginning of each week, and that people would remember to attend the second after already attending the first. After we OK’d the poster, they got them printed and we began to distribute them about town, both Bristol and Cardiff. Something else we spoke about in our meetings (The 16 of us usually met up after the 12pm weekly meeting on Wednesdays) was producing our own leaflet. There wasn’t too many of us in the group that were particularly savvy and confident with using photoshop or indesign to make something like this, however Jake Rowles stepped up to the mark. The majority of his work is digital and he has a unique way of using these devices to create an individual style, and he managed to incorporate this into our leaflet. We decided to keep the leaflet rather simple and not overload it with information, just to have a small thumbnail image next to each persons details. These were out contact details, and most people just included their emails, blog addresses, websites and any social media sites also. Jake managed to design the leaflet in a way that clearly shows there will be two different weeks. By using a concertina design, he design one week on one side and the second week on the other. Our posters were already design by this point, so Jake took the colour scheme from this and used it for the leaflets also. Here’s what the end product looked like, and again we were all very happy:


After all these designing tasks were out the way, we began to focus on our own works. We decided who would be going in each week, and this was mostly decided on who could do what (due to it being in the easter holidays). I opted to be in the second week. For this exhibition I decided to include a piece of work that I had already completed last December. This was due to a few factors. There was the time that would be going into a piece of work for the show that I would be conscious of being spent more productively on my degree show work, so it seemed much easier to use something already finished. I also wanted to keep a sort of continuous theme and way of working throughout my exhibitions. The work that I decide to create outside of university is completely different to the work that I produce in the studio. I find this very sitting for me personally. I fully understand that the work I could have produced for this show could have also been included in my degree show work and my project work for university, however I decided to keep these two separate. Another reason is that I throughly enjoy this way of working and find it extremely therapeutic and rewarding, and I feel combined with the subject matter, they have a strong relationship and work well together. Previous tutorials with both Amelia and Anna have also proved that they aren’t keen on the techniques used, due to it being a rather common and popular way of working as an illustrator, and that I should try and keep away from it. I accepted and agreed with these comments (hence me not working in this way with my university work) so exhibitions like this one give me the chance to show another side of my illustration approach, and show the work that I can’t show in university. The work I decided to show is from the exhibition I did before this one, titled ‘-Exposure’ (see blog post). Here is the work itself:


‘Under the Skin’


When I exhibited this work in The Abacus last December, I didn’t use anything to hang it with other than nails. As it was part of a residency, I didn’t work to any particular size, I just cut out a piece of paper that felt big and daring enough and drew up my design. As it was for the residency, I didn’t have any plans to frame it or show it in a particular way. I wanted to keep the piece rather raw and unkept, much like the residency. We were all extremely tired and the gallery soon enough stopped looking like a gallery and more like a studio, but that was the whole point so it doesn’t really matter. To keep this rawness and originality, I simply just used nails to hang the piece up in the Abacus. I decided to use quite thick nails and left them partially sticking out. However, for this Bristol show I didn’t want the same effect. I wanted a much cleaner finish and a more professional appearance, so I decided to get a frame. I took a trip down to IKEA and tried to find a frame that would fit my image. I thought I would struggle with it but thankfully, I found a lovely white frame that only set me back £15. I didn’t actually take my image with me when buying the frame so it was a total gamble, but thankfully everything turned up roses.


Fitting image to the frame


When buying the frame, it came with an inner-frame/border which worked as a great stencil for where I needed to cut my original image down too. Once I had cut my image down, I got it into the frame and the job was done. I didn’t realise when buying my frame that it didn’t have a glass front, and it was in fact plastic. Once I had peeled of the protective layering the plastic was clean and clear, so I wasn’t too upset about it. Next part of the adventure was to set up the show!!

As I was in the second week our set up was later than the others. We began setting up on April 6th. As my frame measured up as just a little larger than A1, I had asked people in the group if any of them were driving down to Bristol and if I could pop my frame in their car. I was more than happy to get the train down there, but then Ayu said she would give me a lift down along with my work, so that was great! We arrived with and began to set up the second half of the exhibition as soon as everyone else had arrived. The people that were in the week before us had come along earlier that day and taken down their work for us to put up ours. Alongside showing the work, I had some prints left over from last year that I thought I could throw in to sell, and they were illustrated in the same way as the work I am exhibiting.


The initial setting up of the show went really well. It seemed to be quite a slow process and me and Ayu were the first to arrive, so we couldn’t begin setting up anything until everyone else got there so I feel as though there could have been better organisation within us all to make sure we all got there at the same time so it could have been a quicker set up, but apart from that it worked well. We got everyones work out on the floor and tried to imagine who’s would look good where, and who’s work complemented who’s the best. Our main issues were the sizing of the works and colours. There were 3 pieces in particular that were pretty colourful, and then the rest were more greyscale. We needed to find a nice balance of colour and alongside this, there were only 2 large frames pieces, mine included. So we had to make sure the work had a flow to it. Eventually we figured out a successful composition and we set it all up.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the opening evening so I could not be there to celebrate with everyone what we had achieved, however the experience as a whole has been a lot of fun and it feels good to have an exhibition up in a different city to here in Cardiff, spreading out our wings and sharing our delicious art with the world. We managed to get a few little online responses and promotions, here are the links below:

Visit Bristol.co.uk

PAPER Arts.org.uk

The Vanity of Small Differences


Grayson Perry

We were extremely lucky to be able to get on a nice warm coach and be taken to Bath to see Grayson Perry’s most recent exhibition, ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’. This exhibition was an excellent depiction of class in today’s society, telling a story through 6 beautifully crafted tapestries. Grayson Perry describes:

“The tapestries tell the story of class mobility, for I think nothing has as strong an influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class in which we grow up. I am interested in the politics of consumerism and the history of popular design but for this project I focus on the emotional investment we make in the things we choose to live with, wear, eat, read or drive. Class and taste run deep in our character – we care. This emotional charge is what draws me to a subject”.

I have always been heavily influenced by Perry’s work. I have never worked with subject matter the same, but for me he has always been to artists that gives you that ‘wow’ feeling when you find yourself in the same as his work. Something I think that helps make this happen for me is that his work is detailed and interactive, which is what I am now learning I respond to best both in others work and my own. His work is busy, colourful, big and inviting and I can never take my eyes away. His pottery works have also been a huge influence on me, and I was also lucky enough to see them in the Tate Modern last year.

I didn’t leave this exhibition without buying his book. In there he shares with us many of his sketchbook pages, and as i’m sure you know, I do love my sketchbook. So this will be a feast fir my eyes, and something I can resort back too when I find myself in that good old artist block.

Say Hello Senses: SMELL

I began thinking more about how I can create my work in a way to induce relaxation and reassurance. Always baring in mind the subject matter that I am dealing with, I wanted to introduce more techniques that could work with my materials to ensure my viewers do not feel intimidated or anxious around my work.

I started to think abut how we as people interact with art and the different way our body helps us to react to something, later leading to a lasting impression. First of all is the most obvious one, being sight. Upon approaching a piece of art we immediately scan our eyes over whatever is in front of us trying to work it out. This led me to think about the rest of our senses and how these assist us in deciding whether something appeals to us or not. I found myself thinking a lot about our noses and how wonderful (and sometimes how terrifying) a smell can be, and how that links with our memories. Certain smells take you back to remember something that has already happened, mostly emotional memories. For example, the smell of a certain perfume may make you think of someone you once knew or loved. Or the smell of smoke or burning marshmallows reminds you of that time you went camping a few years ago. I wondered if there was ways that I could make something like this happen with my work.

This then opened up another argument in my head: would I want a lasting smell or a subtle smell? I could choose to include a smell that hits your senses so hard that you may not know exactly how to deal with it, but what would the relationship be with that and my pieces of work? If I am recreating cancerous cells using wool, would I want my viewers over whelmed with a smell, whether that is good or bad? I definitely wouldn’t use an insulting smell, as this would contradict my aims. I soon enough decided that I wanted to use something subtle, enticing and not too noticeable. Something that can be recognized by your own subconscious and draw you in to its origin.

I began to research into calming smells and aromas and also remedies that people use to relax themselves when tensions are high.

 Here are some that I found most interesting:

LEMON: Promotes concentration and has calming and clarifying properties that are helpful when you are feeling angry, anxious or run down. It also has antibacterial properties that boost the body’s immune system.

LAVENDER: This essential oil has calming properties that help control emotional stress. It has a soothing effect of nerves and relives nervous tension and depression, as well as treat migraines and headaches.

JASMINE: Also used to calm nerves, but this oil is also used as an antidepressant because of its uplifting capabilities that produce a feeling of confidence, optimism and revitalize energy.

ROSEMARY: In addition to improving memory retention, Rosemary has stimulating properties that fight physical exhaustion, headaches, and mental fatigue. It helps in the morning when you need to ‘get going’. Rosemary can also be used topically to relieve muscular pains and aches.

CINNAMON: The stimulating properties in Cinnamon can help fight mental fatigue and improve concentration and focus.

PEPPERMINT: It’s always best to try peppermint when you’re brainstorming. T’s an energy booster, so this scent invigorates the mind, promotes concentration and stimulates clear thinking.

All of these smells have similar properties that all promote and induce a healthy and calming atmosphere for those who are around it. But I need to ask myself which of these best suit the ‘personality’ of my tumours. I found myself wanting to know which of these were more effective and started to think of how I could test this out.

THE EXPERIMENT: After a little while brainstorming I came up with a little plan on how I can test out which of these smells has that largest effect on a persons mood. I wanted to conduct my own experiment, manageable in the studios.

I would make a knitted ball for each smell to be contained inside. I would then rally up a group of willing participants and assign a ‘smell ball’ to each person. The purpose of the ball would be to place it on their desks/ personal space, each at (as close to) equal distances. The people that would take part in this would be people I knew would be in the studios all day and for similar periods of time. This is so I can get as accurate results as possible. At the end of the day I would then spend some time asking participants if they felt any differences in how they performed throughout the day, or if they felt nothing at all.


I began to think about the complications of this and what might affect my results. These mostly included participants removing themselves from where the smell balls are on their desk, for example leaving for lunch, a workshop or just having a walk about. And then something else that really stood out to me is actually briefing the subjects on the experiment, and how the conscious mind may have a part to play in this. Actually sitting down and explaining thoroughly the intentions of my project may cause the conscious mind to be aware of the desired results and therefore adjust the outcome. So I thought it may be a more successful experiment if I then kept the true outcomes hidden from those involved so that they are not consciously aware of the fact that there is something in their space that may or may not affect their performance that day. But, is this a pure experiment? Or am I getting far too into this? (Note to self: This is NOT a psychology course).

Some things to think about~

Here are some things I have been sent away to think about after another tutorial with both Amelia and Martyn:

  • The element of self discovery so far.
  • What happens to these deadly cells when they receive treatment
  • The fact and idea that they’re actually living things that carry an innocence with them as they do NOT grow with intention to harm.
  • They exist, so what is their existence?
  • Our bodies are their home, WE grow it. it is OURS.
  • These inherited diseases are part of being a human, part of our families before us that pass down into our genes and follow us throughout our lives.
  • Re-humanising the cancer cells I will be looking at
  • The narrative of this subject matter, the voice, the story.
  • To really understand all of this, I need to explore further and develop a strong understanding of my subject matter.


Martyn mentioned mustering up a creative piece of writing with my cancer cells as the main characters. By doing this, this may help me to understand what voice I want my work to have, and by writing this out beforehand (Clearly I am very chatty and my sketchbooks are mostly filled with my thought-vomit just trying to figure everything out) so I think this would be a great idea).




Answer Those Questions!

After my tutorial with Amelia and Martyn, I was advised to go away and think about some important questions about my work. They both thought that if I managed to ask myself these questions and answer them then I would be able to get a better understanding of what I think its purpose is.

Articulate what it is that you want to do –

I want to create 3D felt/wool sculptures of deadly diseases, such as cancer, HIV/AIDs and so on. I want to use soft and comforting materials such as wool, felt wool, thread and so on. I also want to work with bright and inviting colours so that these two aspects combined create a calming and comforting atmosphere.

WHAT am I trying to do? Trying to communicate? –

By making 3D models of these deadly and life threatening microscopic enemies , I am hoping to create them in a way that isn’t so scary, distressing and intimidating. I hope to highlight these objects, and attempt to highlight a brighter side in order to not send viewers into distress. By doing this I wish  to invite the viewer to ask questions. By asking questions, a better understanding of the diseases are developed. I am keen to keep the identity of the objects I’ll be making a secret, until whomever is viewing the work has spent enough time with it to develop a connection through interaction (holding, moving, smelling) and then reveal what they are.

WHAT impact am I trying to have? –

I would like to be able to invite people to ask more questions about the subject matters that I am working with, hopefully allowing to ask questions about ‘how’ and ‘why’. How do tumours grow? Why do they grow? These are the kind of questions I would like my work to provoke from my audience. By doing this I hope to help develop a better understanding of the diseases, which I believe would help people with handling the subject matter whether they have a personal relationship with it (this could help with grieving, accepting) or whether they do not have a a personal connection, yet would like to develop and learn more about the subject. All in all, I would like to have a strong sense of comfort within my work and maybe some reassurance.

Some Key words to think about:

  • Acknowledge
  • Invite
  • Communicate
  • Interact
  • Understand
  • Calm
  • Reaction

Wait, Felting?

I began to get increasingly sick, tired and frustrated with trying to figure out how on earth I am supposed knit what I wanted. I guess it is a classic case of having an perfect idea of something that you want to make inside your head, but being completely unable to make that exact thing in real life.

Whilst doing ‘Field’ last year, Maggie taught me how to do some 2D felting on the felting machine. Also, whilst I was at home and speaking to someone about my work, they also mentioned felting to me. I quickly brushed off the idea, because at this point I wasn’t interested in any other ideas that weren’t the ones inside my head (terrible habit). Anyway, when knitting became difficult, these new ideas began to seem much more interesting. I had never tried 3D felting before, so I had a little google and I fell in love. I decided I wanted to know more about this so I took myself down to Maggie in textiles and asked about 3D felting, and she sent me to Steve. The following Monday he gave me a tutorial about how to felt.

I spent the whole day with Steve and he showed me everything I needed to know about felting. The only downside to this day was that there wasn’t much choice in felt colours, and also there were no felting needles available for me to start felting. This meant I had to get down to Hobbycraft and stock up. In the meantime, I decided to get looking at some artists that use 3D felting and work well with colour. Here are some that stood out to me the most:

Something that had been cropping up a lot in my feedback tutorials were questions about the context and voice of my work. Running off my plans for felting, I wanted to attempt to answer these questions and begin to get an understanding of where I would put my work, because I think I’m trying to make it seem like I have a clue, but I really don’t.

So, where would I see this piece going? What purpose would it have? Once I have developed a better understanding of the answers for these questions, I will be able to think about my objects and materials. I need to begin to think about my individual voice and what I want that voice to say, and then begin to compare this to the work of others and how they approach and tackle to subject of cancer. It would be a good idea to look at adverts involving cancer and look at what voice is given when discussing the topic.I now need to begin to make a decision about what I think my work and its voice is- the voice and the environment of the work needs to be taken into consideration.

I felt that using 3D felting would give me a better opportunity to work with size. AS you can see in the images above, I tried to imagine this piece of work being rather large, and being suspended from the ceiling. I was pretty keen with this idea, because there’s something about the viewers being able to walk within it that really interested me. This idea gave me the opportunity to have the viewer be able to experience the surface of my work and then be able walk through and see the inside. I really want my work to be interactive and to give viewers the chance to have a close interaction and relationship with my work; by placing my work suspended in a doorway where the audience have to actually walk through it in order to pass into the next room is something that appeals to me greatly. Combining this idea of interaction with my subject matter, it highlights the fact that we need to be speaking about cancer more freely, and making sure people are aware of the facts, causes and be able to feel comfortable enough to ask questions regarding cancer and its development. Overall I would hope that these combinations of work and theory would be successful; my aim being to get more people to speak about cancer, thus develop a better understanding and hopefully this will help with the process of dealing with cancer. Ignorance isn’t always bliss.

In a tutorial with Amelia and Martyn (Formative feedback tutorials a while ago) we spoke of me possibly working with 3D felting and they seemed to show concerns about the idea. Amelia mentioned that it may be a little too ‘crafty’ and that is something I should try and stay away from in project work.