It has been quite the meandering path that got me where I am today. With a passion for painting and making things, I took an art foundation course at the Leeds College of Art and Design in 2004, where I specialised in visual communication. I was fascinated by the way that we can communicate without words, how we can use the shared language of form and colour to create meaning and shared experience, how much of it is culturally defined and yet we take for granted as some kind of Truth.
Following the advice of my tutors, I then went to Cardiff to study graphic communication at UWIC (University of Wales institute, Cardiff). While there was a great deal of creativity encouraged on the course, I was still disappointed by it in many ways. There was a lot of focus on what it’s like when you’re working as a graphic designer, which was a great insight, and very much a bonus for those on the course who specifically wanted to work as a graphic designer, but I knew before even starting the course that I didn’t.
At the end of my course I visited the Contemporary Textile practice end of course show that was in the same building and thought “damn, I did the wrong degree”.
After I finished my degree I was pretty directionless for quite a while. I had many different ideas about what I wanted to do with myself, but none of them ever came to anything. A combination of this drifting and a personal tragedy led me to start exploring paganism, and eventually to take shamanic training with Churaig Mac Niall, a teacher who would also become a close friend. The work I was taught wasn’t about a particular tradition or way of doing things, instead the focus was on forging a direct connection with Spirit, through the land, our guides and our ancestors. This work was my life, and led me to explore many different paths and practices.
Deciding I wanted to be a healer, I studied to be a massage therapist with the Bristol College of Massage and Bodywork. The course was great, but when I finished and began trying to set up my practice, I felt like I was encountering blocks at every turn. I know that these things aren’t supposed to be easy, but it felt like I was encountering massive resistance at every step.
My seeking eventually let me to Iquitos in Peru, where I stayed at an ayahuasca retreat for a month and did 9 ceremonies during my time there. During these ceremonies the medicine prepared from the ayahuasca vine and other plants is drunk by the participants and the curandera/o (the shaman who holds the space and takes care of the participants), and this brings about visions, healing and transformation. In one of my last ceremonies I set the intention to learn what my mission in life was and I was told very clearly – to make beautiful things. I had my doubts about the importance of such an endeavour, but I was shown how beauty transforms, heals and elevates, how it talks to the soul and opens the heart.
I had picked up needle felting not long before that and added it to my craft arsenal. It felt like the natural medium for me to work in, there’s a simplicity to the basic technique which can expand into a world of possibilities. I started out as a business in 2011, mostly making hair clips and brooches and the like, always inspired by nature and the organic and magical beauty of the materials I was using. Over time my skills and creative ambition increased and I started making larger and more complex items, and decided to leave the smaller work behind and pursue larger commissions and exhibitions, exploring the wonderful medium of needle felting and seeing how far it can go!