How I Began
Immersed isn’t too strong a word! Both mother and father had eyes and ears which sought the interesting and unusual. Their critical focus embraced where we lived, what we all wore, and how my sister and I looked and behaved.
Our father’s primary passion was his painting: oils, watercolours and later on acrylics. His studio in our various homes was his heart centre. I spent hours peering at his work and his myriad of brushes, tins of paint, palettes of colour – but never touching.
There was something magical but intimidating about these special spaces. My parents were tireless gallery goers. Even as toddlers, my sister and I were marched through private and public exhibitions until our feet hurt. I remember feeling uncomfortably in awe.
When I opted for Art History rather than Classics at university, I had to take a few studio courses. I did this with an equal measure of excitement and trepidation – comfortable with media such as sculpture and printmaking but never happy in drawing and painting. I feared my father would compare my feeble first efforts with his own prowess.
Teaching seemed a practical option for me upon graduation in 1965. And, yes, I taught studio classes, keeping one step ahead of my students. Over those first few years, their enthusiasm and fearlessness in experimenting with all sorts of materials became contagious and I yearned to be making along with them.
My artist father loomed large as I sought a medium that differed from his own. I chose to draw and paint using thread and fabric on canvas. I worked with a Pfaff sewing machine. My first exhibition in 1978 was ‘Fabricated Ladies’ at Gallery O on Markham Street. They were collaborative works, done from drawings and paintings of my father’s lovers. I relished driving needles through their lush bodies.
Most of my work over a forty-year period has been autobiographical.
More background Information