Women’s Project – Update 3

Arts Events, Commissioned Work, Community, Events, Exhibition, Love Arts Leeds, Womens Project, Workshops

Almost all our images are ready to be printed! And it’s not long now until the exhibition opens at Oxford Place.

Love Arts Festival launches on 7th October at The Light in Leeds city centre. Our exhibition is part of the Arts Trail, No. 17 on the map of which you can see below:

You can see the full programme here.

The last session we had at Studio 12, we explored expression and how unique our faces are. We took hundreds of photos, first using the shutter release cable, so we could choose when we wanted to pose, and then later acting out emotions to scenarios we shouted out to each other.
It was a fun session, and even a reluctant member, who was adamant that she wasn’t going to get in front of the camera, surprised herself with how much enjoyment she was having.
Being confident in ones body doesn’t have to stop at the perfect smile and retouched images, being confident is owning your face, letting go, and living. We all have little flaws, but aren’t they the very things that make us unique and special? I have an odd face, but it is an expressive face, one with warm caring eyes.


Women’s Project – Update 2

Commissioned Work, Community, Exhibition, Love Arts Leeds, Womens Project, Workshops


I started the Self Portrait project back in July, working with Together Women Leeds. It has been a slow process, for a variety of reasons, my own ill health being just one of them.  But there is one thing I am learning from this project, and that is developing my own self confidence.

The workshop has covered topics such as positive body image, improving self worth, looking at perspective, positive affirmations; autobiographical writing, using timelines, ten memories for significant moments in life, and 3 line life story. The purpose for all these workshops was to encourage self worth, to encourage the idea that all the hardship and bad mistakes we may make in life, only build us up to be the people we become. Finding the good in ourselves, seeing life from others eyes as well as our present eyes, giving ourselves positive affirmations everyday. And take all those negative occurrences and beliefs, and treat them as a story, a memory, from the past, that belongs in the past.

We also looked at different ways we could create our self portraits. Maybe a memory from the past, seen in a different perspective. Recreating childhood photographs. Decorating the image to mirror uniqueness.

The workshop visited Studio 12 at Leeds Central Library, where we took studio shots, with the students directing themselves and how they wanted to portray themselves. The students really seemed to get a lot out of being in front of the camera and from using the camera and lights. One of the comments I received was how before the workshop started, she didn’t think she’d feel so at ease in front of the camera, and feels a lot more confident.

The emphasis has been on being ourselves, and creating something personal that will represent us. I have been against retouching images (removing scars, lines, wrinkles, folds, etc), because the study is producing work that celebrates who we are, as we are.

The workshop is continuing for a few more weeks, before being displayed as part of Love Arts Leeds 2015


Below are links to some of the resources I have used.

slideshow of the images I used to illustrate self portraiture opened up much discussion as to what constitutes a self portrait. It is open to much interpretation as the self portrait is uniquely self driven.

Positive AffirmationsSlide08



Women’s Project – Update 1

Arts Events, Commissioned Work, Community, Diary, Events, Exhibition, Love Arts Leeds, Mental Health, Womens Project, Workshops

I have had two meetings since initial conception. And things are already moving ahead!

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for International Women’s Day, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. I intend to Make it Happen, with my own work and with the help of the women of Leeds, with that in mind I have decided to focus on the theme of the Self Portrait.

I will be facilitating a series of workshops, which will be delivered to existing women’s groups, and as drop in sessions, to work on this theme. Looking at what constitutes a self portrait, self portraits in a historical and social context, and how we deliver our stories visually.

The workshops will also have an element of writing, to accompany the stories we engage.

The workshops will be developed to celebrate achievements of women, no matter how small, and recognise themselves as strong women, and to give others hope. As a woman, this is something I often find a challenge, recognising my own strengths and achievements, I am hoping that this project will allow my own personal journey to continue and to finally believe, that “Yes, I can!”

I’m excited to say that I have the backing of Love Arts Leeds,  and will be working with Priya Sidharh from One Billion Rising Leeds.


I am currently applying for funding, but would appreciate any further interest of funding and backing. I am also interested in finding workshop and exhibition space, women’s groups to participate in the workshops, printing or any other ways you feel you can help.

If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch.

selfie 2

Image created from ‘Selfies’ found in my phones photo albums

Love Arts Speech

Arts Events, Awards, Events, Love Arts Leeds

I was given the honour of saying a few words at the Love Arts Leeds closing party, here is my speech in full.

The Love Arts festival launched in 2011, and in a nutshell, focusses on wellbeing in the arts. This year is about Sharing Stories, and I’ve been asked to share mine, and my experience with Love Arts Leeds.
At the time of the first festival I was suffering from depression, and had also developed anxiety. I felt quite isolated and unsure of myself and my own capabilities as an artist. My desire was to find a positive community that would encourage me and so that I could feel part of something. I felt that volunteering would be a good place to start. I volunteered for the first festival over a variety of activities, I think it was about 15 in total. After hearing Tricia Thorpe talk at one of the events, I thought her story was very inspiring. I decided to volunteer afterwards with Time To Change Leeds.
From this initial interaction with the festival, I asked Linda Boyles, from Arts and Minds if it would be possible to facilitate a workshop as part of my final degree project. I ran a workshop with Arts and Minds members, which looked at wellbeing and in particular taking notice of your surroundings. Looking at the New Economics Foundation’s 5 ways to wellbeing.
The second festival I was invited to have my own exhibition from the work I had produced for my degree show with the Arts and Minds members, which was held at the White Cloth Gallery. I was also nominated for the visual arts award which I went on to win for my work on my wellbeing project. My speech last year was quite literally speechless, I was overwhelmed to the point of silence!
Between then and now I have worked with The Mount where we created a photographic collage with the elderly service users, and I have been invited back again this winter, I was recommended to them by Tom Bailey, also of Arts and Minds.
Inspired by the Highlights exhibition, which is one of the features of the Love Arts festival, I organised and put on an exhibition at the Hedley Verity last spring. It was open to everyone, encouraging inclusion and to raise awareness about the Time To Change campaign. I received over 40 pieces of work from a variety of artists, and it was a great pleasure to see them adorn the walls of this busy city pub.
This summer I have worked with Tricia and other volunteers from Time To Change Leeds to produce the Unheard Voices of Highroyds exhibition, exploring past and present at this formidable place. I was asked to create both the cover for the festival programme and the Love Music Leeds CD, which I have been very honoured to do so, it also saw me getting more creative outside photography with my book carving skills.
I will be taking on my first big commission with Abbey House museum starting this month. I’ve secured a job working with Emma Saynor, a fellow Love Arts volunteer from 2011, as facilitators and community learning tutors at Mencap. And I founded a photography group called Take Notice Leeds, which is a more inclusive and open group for people who may normally feel intimidated at other groups.
I don’t want to brag about all the things I’ve done, as there have been many equally amazing projects and stories from many of the participants in the festival. But the main point I want to make about all of this is, how from the first festival to now I have grown and changed as a person. I don’t think it would have been possible for me even to have written a proposal to a Leeds museum a couple of years ago, let alone be standing here talking to you about it, but being part of the Love Arts Festival, and what has come from, it has given me the confidence, the encouragement and above all proven that the arts really can improve your wellbeing and mental health. Oh, and I think the most important thing, it has given me some really incredible friendships.

I didn’t win the Visual Arts awards for which I was nominated again this year, I had stiff competition from the Place and Memory collective, who deservedly won. And my good friend and Pop-Up Booth collaborator, Charys Ellmer is one of the artists. But as part of the Time To Change team and the Unheard Voices of Highroyds exhibition, we did win the Peoples Choice award. I don’t get to spend as much time with the team since my new job, but I’ll always remain a volunteer in any capacity I can.


Keeping Busy

Arts Events, Commissioned Work, Diary, Exhibition, Love Arts Leeds, Mental Health

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, but this is in part down to a busy work schedule!
Firstly, I have recently been employed by Mencap as a facilitator for a project called Me Time. Mencap’s Me Time service empowers people to enjoy a variety of meaningful activities in their community. Individuals are supported to develop new skills and to achieve their goals and aspirations. It’s the first time they have trialled it in Leeds and it’s so far been very hard work, but equally rewarding work at that. We start our first 6 weeks of activities on 14th October. I’m looking forward to it!

I’ve also been working on my first big commission, for the Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall, Yorkshire Exhibition; George Walker in the 21st Century. The project, will take place over 10 weeks, with the group producing 6 images inspired by the work of George Walker, depicting ‘Costumes of Yorkshire’ as observed in the 21st century. I’m really scared about this one, I hope I can deliver, but that’s a confidence thing, once I’m in there, I’ll just play out to my huge enthusiasm for the subject and my aim is that this will brush off on those taking part. I will blog later on as the project commences and I start to see its progression.

I was also commissioned to create the cover image for the Love Arts Leeds programme this year and also the Love Music Leeds album cover. It was a huge privilege to be asked, and the festival really has given me so much. It was the first place I felt part of something, part of a community after the death of my father. And 3 years on, although I still miss him very much, I feel like this is his legacy, to give me the direction I had been lacking most of my life.

I am also featured in an exhibition at Leeds Central Library, Unheard Voices, which opens on 7th October, about the story of High Royds Asylum, it is also part of the Love Arts Leeds Festival this year and the project was managed by Tricia Thorpe my mentor from Time To Change Leeds. It has been a fascinating and heartbreaking subject to be involved in. My images for this piece are below, taken on my fathers old TLR, for those uninitiated, that’s a twin lens reflex medium format film camera, and here is the statement I wrote to support it:

I notice the oddities, the things that people may overlook. A closer inspection of the environment around me. It wasn’t a conscious decision to focus away from the main building of High Royds, it’s imposing tower looming over us, but maybe subconsciously it’s the idea of escape that drives me to look away and outside. To see the things that shouldn’t be there.

I have been working hard with The Pop-Up Booth, on a number of events, from weddings to charity fashion shows. It’s enjoyable work and I love working with my business partner, Charys Ellmer. We have quite an eclectic range of events booked in the future, again it’s been hard work, but it’s starting to pay off.

Finally, over the last 3 years, I have battled depression and anxiety, become part of a wonderful community of artists and positive people, finally left a job I’d fallen out of love with and found one I’m overjoyed to have, made some amazing friends who are the glue that keep me together and felt wanted more than I ever have done in my life. This is is the start of the journey I’ve been working hard to make and it’s been worth getting here.

Love Music Leeds album cover

Love Music Leeds album cover

Love Arts Leeds programme cover

Love Arts Leeds programme cover

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