WHATâ€™S INSIDE ? Competition
Interview with Dan Llywelyn Hall Artist
Ian Henery - Award winning poet, playwright & Solicitor
Elaine Mackie Master Degree in Industrial Design
Roberta Feoli Professor, Artist and Printmaker
Welcome to our first issue of Hidden Talents online quarterly Magazine, by the Arches Project multiaward winners of Central England Prestige Award 2020/21. This magazine is written by artists for artists and galleries, collectors, art lovers and industry, showcasing amazing artists and creatives who are painters, textile designers, photographers, glass artists, printmakers, food and nature who wants the world to see and know about their talents. The purpose of this magazine is to motivate, inform, inspire, and aim to bridge the gap between artists, creatives and paid opportunities within the art industry and will be circulated to gallery owners, art buyers, collectors, general public and companies. Many of our amazing artists are going through their career with no recognition and very few people know about them and that they are available for work, commissions and to exhibit in their galleries, we are hoping that this magazine will help in gaining exposure on a global scale for our artists and creatives and for the art world to know that they are available. We would like for you to support our magazine in submitting your articles to be included and also to sign up for our subscription and in doing so this will enable our magazine to grow and develop further in the UK as well as on a global platform, giving artists and creatives exposure and to gain recognition worldwide. Never let it be said, that to dream is a waste of one’s time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future. Evette Edmeade - Founder
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Graphic Designer: Gayatri Pasricha Editors: Catrin Jackson Evette Edmeade Front Cover of Dan Llywelyn Hall photograph by Bernard Mitchell 2020 ©
DISCLAIMER Every care has been taken during the production of this magazine in compiling editorial and advertorial. However The Arches Project Ltd cannot accept responsibility for material supplied by third parties and excludes all liability relating to any products and services promoted within this publication or arising from any error, omission or inaccuracy, nor is The Arches Project Ltd responsible for the content of external websites. Finally the views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily the views of the publisher, no part of this magazine must be copied or reproduced without written permission from the publishers. Copyright ©The Arches Project Ltd. All rights reserved.
2020 Will Go Down In History Jonathan Anthony 2020 will go down in history as one of the most impactful years for generations. I cast my mind back to History lessons at school and being taught about World War 2 and hearing how these events completely changed the landscape of Britain. We must prepare ourselves for things never to go back to normal, we will need to form a ‘new normal’. The creative industries face an uncertain future and financial support doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. It is these industries that provide us with entertainment, joy and for many an avenue for which to release. Thomas Merton famously said of art that; “it enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Although the future of these industries are precarious one thing that hasn’t wavered and in fact thrived is our desire to create. In my personal experience ‘adversity breeds innovation’ and this pandemic is proof of this. It is my prediction that over the next year there will be a phenomenal amount of new material being released; music, art, literature in specific. This is an amazing thing and something that should be looked forward to. “Creativity takes courage” most famously said by H.Matisse and it has never been truer. We must encourage individuals to continue to innovate even if it seems hopeless we must continue. Now more than ever it is imperative that we support our creative institutions in whichever ways that we can or risk losing them for good. I am sure that you have seen that theatres are at serious risk of becoming a major casualty of this pandemic, one of the countries institutions could potentially be wiped out. The economics of it all are very important when analysing the real impact of losing our creative industry. It generates well over £100bn a year for the UK economy contributing to our £2.8 tln GDP. However, those figures do not take into account the indirect income generated through the services associated with the industry. We play a huge role within society and we must remain robust. The purpose of this article isn’t to discourage or breed negativity but if we are not realistic about our situation then we cannot deal with the problems that are facing us. As the creatives we must continue to be the beacon of hope for the hopeless and a friend for those that are lonely. It is in these times that our talents are needed the most, we have to stand up and be bold when others are fearful. We need to focus on the future and how can we can protect an industry that is integral for our economy but importantly our state of mind. Can you imagine an environment without the arts…..
Hidden Talents: Lucy Grubb My name is Lucy Grubbs. I am currently an undergraduate student on the Fine Art course at Coventry University, thinking through my work as a position; a peg practise: I am a Peg A Peg is something which is used to hang, hold and bond things together. A Peg is something that connects people, relates, bonds views and opinions, even those that might set us apart. A Peg holds, positions, fixes, reveals, supports, exposes and binds Thinking and acting as a peg A Peg practice. My work flirts with (com)position(s) and utopian desires. It resides in the interest of painting as a way of thinking about the re-modification and impermanence to what an object / structure could be or want to be. ‘References change the body of an object, references can be inserted or removed, but the object still remains.’ The associations onto these ‘genuinely real objects’ (Tarabukin) can change with the remodification of our own desires or those which have come to bear on us. When the studios in the Graham Sutherland Building shut in March, I wanted to be angry, but I knew could not. I did not want the anger and the disappointment of cancelled art shows to be the tension which made my work have an edge. At home, I had to navigate a new way of being, a re-modification of the work I had been making before. I was resisting the new aesthetic that I was creating for a while. I was dreaming about being back in the studios with my lights from B&Q and the stones, which when the studios closed, were still drying from the gloss I painted over them moments before. I found myself diving into the profound and intriguing works of Agnes Martin and Ian Kiaer most days, but it was the shadows from the sunset that peered in onto my bedroom window from my wonky blinds at 20.28pm, that always managed to capture my heart. I became quite fond of these shadows. They were there and then gone – my work had been about ‘real objects’, but the shadows, the ones which are greatly unaware of their passionate beauty, their universe, showed the impermanence of it all. Now I find poetics in more vulnerable materials. When I think back to those opaque and difficult gloss stones, the ones I left in the studios, I see a fragmented spirit that needed to feel a softness. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel thankful for the moments which lockdown has given me. I know that if the studios were still open, I would be out until an unholy hour, and then I would have never of seen that sunset that peered into my bedroom window at 20:28pm.
Dan Llywelyn Hall Interview by David Irish It’s a grey miserable Friday afternoon in late August, with little change forecast, apart from an interview with Dan Llywelyn Hall . We spent a good hour discussing his life, interests and most of all painting, which he is absolutely passionate about. His work relates to an expressionistic tradition, where emotions and feelings take precedence over trying to capture an exact representation of the scene. Artists such as Soutine, Van Gogh and Blake come to mind, when engaging his work. His ideas and beliefs also support this position. For Dan, passion and commitment is the key to painting and what it can express of the human spirit. It is fundamental to his soul! It was refreshing to chat to someone who knew exactly what they wanted painting to express, while at the same time, being extremely forthright and honest about his own work. Dan was first captured by art at the age of eight, through his Aunt, who asked him to paint a picture of a house. Later after leaving school, he chose a course in illustration at Westminster University in London and subsequently was employed by the Independent. Within a short-time scale, he realised this wasn’t his chosen path and resigned from his post, deciding instead to take up the brush and canvas. A complete turnaround in methods of expression. It was during this period he was awarded a painting prize by ‘The Sunday Times,’ which encouraged him to dedicate his life to the act of painting. For Dan, art is a calling, for a painter’s life is quite a solitary experience, if not monastic, which in a way has come full circle; his atelier being a converted chapel. He fully accepts that life is a transitory experience, there being other dimensions and worlds beyond the limits of our sensory encounters, which he clearly touches on in his work. For Dan it is about being true to oneself, following your own intuition and being authentic at all times. It is a hard and rocky road to travel, the only guidelines are your own instincts, which is in complete contradiction to the modern age. I asked him what advice he would give to an aspiring artist, without any hesitation he retorted, ‘It’s about survival, tenacity and endurance. Ignore any detrimental criticism and dig deep within yourself, it is your journey and no one else’s,’ wise words. Recently Dan has collaborated with a poet friend, although he has no desires to write poetry himself. This usually requires him to send an image of one of his paintings, to which the poet responds with verse. For Dan, poetry is painting with words, a parallel art form, inhabited by wordsmiths who have similar desires and yearnings. I was curious to how his connection with Birmingham and the Arches came about. Replying, “Spending my childhood in South Wales, what particularly attracted me to Birmingham, was the heavy industrial heritage of the region, which has now become post-industrial. There is a similar history and experience
between the two areas. Which led me to be part of a group exhibition at Arches, where I met Evette. The Arches is an incredibly dramatic space, which is so evocative of the industrial nineteenth century.” Our conversation could have continued for at least another hour or so. His enthusiasm for art and creativity was infectious but before I allowed him to depart, sensing all other means of communication interrupted the activity of painting. I asked him a few playful questions. Three pieces of music which have been part of your life: Harry Nilsson…Everybody’s Talkin Bill Evans…Peace Piece Vaughn Williams…Lark Ascending If you were to cook a meal to impress someone what would it be: It would have to be a Roast with all the trimmings, as it is so evocative of shared meals with the family. What galleries do you enjoy visiting? Pallant House Gallery, Chichester Courtauld Gallery, London On that final note we said our goodbyes, suspecting he wanted to return to an unfinished canvas. Our paths might cross in the future, if they don’t, we wish him well and to say a big thanks for his support and contribution.
© Photograph by Bernard Mitchell 2020
Hidden Talents: Sophia Brown My name is Sophia, and I am a textile designer based in Birmingham. I ventured into the world of freelance design after completing my degree in textiles at the University of Derby this year (a very strange time to be graduating). I have always found self-expression to be extremely important and crucial, not just to my own life, but to everyone’s. How we choose to express ourselves is fascinating to me, since it enables us to enjoy a diverse and ever-changing society of mathematicians, artists and musicians, as well as gardeners, chefs and market stall owners all expressing themselves in their own way. For me, self-expression shows itself through textiles, art, music and nature. My most recent collection Nature’s Autograph explores the natural form and growth of Earth’s creations through an abstract lens. I explored my interest in the natural world by creating the pre-collection Prismatic Odyssey, which showed development samples of the textures seen in crystals and progressed to the geometric shapes of crystal quartz. These were displayed as a ‘pattern clash’ collection for highend womenswear and accessories. Nature’s Autograph focuses on the beauty of wild animals, the organic sprouting of crystals and the elegance of flowers and floral design whilst working with a healing colour palette. These inspirations contributed to my own happiness. I hope that the collection has the same effect on others too. I wanted to use colour on a deeper level than aesthetics. Have you ever looked at a beautiful coloured flower and thought how happy you feel? Or have you gazed up at the bright blue sky with the sun beaming down and felt your worries leave your mind for just that moment? Those are exactly the emotions I intended to capture in my woven and printed textile collection. I believe that nature and colour together can offer a sense of euphoria in our stressful lives. Nature’s Autograph is a direct response to this. Since specialising in woven textiles, I have found how much I connected to the history, process and final product of weaving. This is something which I feel every weaver has experienced. After deciding on a final colour palette, I was able to create a warp (the vertical threads that you weave over and under), and began testing patterns, weave structures and colour proportions. It is important as a textile designer to focus not only on how these fabrics make someone feel, but how well they work as a commercial fabric for fashion and interiors. I used a number of materials for these samples, mostly consisting of cotton/linen blend and acrylic yarns in order to achieve the saturated colours of my palette. However, acrylic yarns being predominantly plastic are not ideal for our environment. Therefore, I have recently been exploring natural dyes and fibres such as nettles, beetroot and petals to achieve similar colours to the chemical dyes we use too often. Most of these natural processes produce pastel-like shades but 8
some, beetroot for example, create a deep pink which I will use as a yarn dye in future products. I believe we can introduce natural fibres and dyes to the world of fast-fashion, and textile design can play a crucial role in these developments. I hope my textiles bring you happiness. If you would like to see more of my work and keep updated with these projects, you can find me on Instagram at @sophias_w_o_r_l_d and also my online shop https://www.sophiasworld.shop/
Hidden Talents: Ronnie Cashmore Ronnie Cashmore born in Aston; Birmingham lived in Yardley before settling in Solihull. As a youth, he was offered a place at Moseley Art School but decline the offer and later spent 11 years working on the track at British Leyland, during the political heyday of the strikes. He subsequently returned to studying fine art at Coventry University, whilst developing a successful career as a professional artist. The main thrust of his art practice is normally based on abstract landscapes, however, of late he decided to paint a volume of work based on the vivid memories of his childhood in the backstreets of Birmingham. Images of a time not so long after the Second World War, a time of smog, factories, flat caps, gobstoppers, and gasworks, a time of hardship but also a time of community and togetherness.
Ian Henery Award Winning Poet, Playwright & Solicitor Award winning poet, playwright and solicitor Ian Henery is Hope Radio`s Poet in Residence. In the summer of 2020 he undertook two community poems which were broadcast and put on the website. He asked his listeners to send in one or more lines that could be woven together to create a tapestry of voices and a work of true diversity and collaboration. The response was truly inspiring and such was the volume of words received two poems were created - “Multi-Colour Ribbon Of Music & Chat” and “A Community Tunes In Together Each Day”. Poets from as far afield as Australia and as close to home as Birmingham`s own Poet Laureate contributed their words and their voices to the project. The entire project was supported by Poet Laureate from Wednesbury, Birmingham ,Worcestershire and Ian Henery the former Walsall Poet Laureate. Casey Bailey the new Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020 - 2022, has been on Ian`s show talking about his plans for Birmingham following his appointment at the Birmingham Literature Festival. Fatma Mohiuddin, the Young Poet Laureate, will be on Ian’s show in the future and has broadcast over 26 shows (equivalent to over 4 series on the radio) with regular listeners from as far as Mauritius, India, USA, Germany & Malaysia. Ian was commissioned to write a trilogy of plays called “Home” for China West Midlands chronicling Chinese immigration to Birmingham and exploring the concepts of identity and home from different socio-economic perspectives over 100 years. The project has the support of Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and the first play begins with The Chinese Labour Corps during World war One. It is estimated that between 1917 - 1920 over 140,000 Chinese young men volunteered to serve Britain and her Allies during World War One. Historians claim that 20,000 of these civilian volunteers died and some even after the War had ended, died of disease, starvation and unexploded shells as they removed dead bodies, spent ammunition and unexploded bombs. Two years after the Armistice they were still on the Western front picking up the bullets, filling in the trenches and recovering the decaying bodies of the dead. There are over 60,000 war memorials to World War One in the UK including memorials to animals and Germans but none to the Chinese Labour Corps. They have been whitewashed from history books and their contribution is forgotten. “This play aims to give voices back to the Chinese Labour Corps” explained Ian. And is inspired by reallife stories and is based, in part, on the extraordinary and long life of Dr Y.C. James Yen, the founder of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction & the China Mass Education Movement. He was one of the ten most influential people of the 20th century, together with Henry Ford, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney. He taught 200 million Chinese people to read - but why don`t more people know his name?” The play, to be performed by Blue Orange Arts, was due to be premiered at the Birmingham Hippodrome in June 2020 until COVID-19 hit the performing arts. Blue Orange Arts received a grant from Arts Council England and corporate sponsors Red Moon Brewery, Wesconnex & Cosy Castle Financial Solutions. Cultural partners were Chinese Active Citizens UK, the Birmingham Chinese Society, Birmingham Chinatown Lions, Southside Bid and Chinese Community Centre Birmingham. When so much was cancelled Blue Orange Arts and Ian Henery kept the consortium`s flame burning bright and the play was performed in September at two special performances in Birmingham where strict social distancing was enforced. The play was recorded and streamed and further funding bids will be submitted in due course to take the play on a national tour. 10
Art in Nature Susan Fownes We cannot separate art from nature. Whether it be our human form in space and the architecture we create or objectively study. Moreover, recording what is around us. Colour and form are present everywhere we look, serving to inform us, as well as soothing our emotions. Nature is a sensory experience that conveys her information through the senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. The experience may invite or repel us, yet we have a relationship that cannot be denied, and therapeutic engagement is always possible. Furthermore, colour has its healing qualities. Green is calming for the soul, complimenting other colours that communicate a rainbow of emotion. As an integral part of nature, flowers communicate their healing through their beautifully balanced forms, as well as their vibrant and subtle colours. This is complimented through their sensual aromas.
Surrounding these are the sounds of nature. They have rhythms that ground and connect us, and we cannot take the art out of the diversity of foods that nature provides. These stimulate our senses, as well as being vital for the survival of communities. In the same vein, we are delighted to announce that the Green Hearts Project has just begun. It is a volunteer led project which endeavours to inspire self-sufficiency through the conversion of unused spaces in our urban environment. We are passionately driven to create biophilic spaces for people, as well as being dedicated to nourishment, natural healing and creative therapeutic engagement. We hope to provide a space for contemplation, peace and inspiration. We are looking forward to inviting painters, sculptors, crafters and gardeners, as well as curious visitors, to this space to celebrate and enjoy with us.
How to find happiness during lockdown Molly Brittain Finding happiness during lockdown has been a struggle. Like many, I have searched for a distraction. I found this through painting colourful prints or making picture frames from left-over cardboard from frequent online orders – including 40 tins of beans and a pair of fake glasses. I feel that I have read enough about the virus to confidently pull off the scientist look. Scrolling through Instagram, you will no doubt see your friends completing a paint by numbers or upcycling their clothes. Where has this creative renaissance come from? Could it be from our pursuit of happiness? In the 1960s, positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became interested in the creative process and began to interview artists. He observed artists became single-minded and ignored bodily needs such as hunger or sleep whilst creating. A composer described a similar feeling, remarking how the music ‘flows out’. Csikszentmihalyi termed this mental state ‘Flow’. Csikszentmihalyi proposed flow, or ‘being in the zone’, was made up of 7 aspects. These are, feeling immersed, feeling outside everyday reality, clarity, feeling that you know what needs to be done and you have the know-how, knowing the activity is within your capabilities, a feeling of serenity, timelessness when hours feel like minutes and intrinsic motivation meaning the activity becomes its own reward. Scientists have found increased feelings of flow contribute to joy and long-term improved wellbeing. Simply, flow is the feeling of being engaged in an activity and forgetting the world around you, induced by a task hard enough to hold your attention, but not so hard that it leaves you disheartened. You might want to keep this in mind the next time you are staring at the clock whilst the 5th banana bread of the week is baking. The reason social media has become an audition tape for Art Attack over the last 4 months could be since creativity is inducing flow. Flow and the creative arts have become empirically linked. This was evidenced by Corrigan-Doyle et al (2016) who induced flow by having participants use illustration to document their thoughts or using templates to decorate with a variety of materials. Composing music, writing poetry, acting and playwriting also generate flow. Doesn’t the feeling of serenity, timelessness and being outside everyday reality sound appealing right now? Luckily, research indicates how increasing flow may be perfectly suited to improve happiness during uncertain times like lockdown. Kyla Rankin, Lisa. C. Walsh and Kate Sweeny (2019) studied students experiencing flow whilst waiting for Bar exam results. Students who experienced increased flow reported lower levels of worry. Sweeney et al (2020) conducted research in China during a lockdown and found an unsurprising link between long periods of quarantine and poorer wellbeing. However, the wellbeing of participants who reported a recent increase in flow was no worse than those who have not experienced lockdown. “Even the most routine tasks, like washing dishes, dressing, or mowing the lawn become more rewarding if we approach them with the care it would take to make a work of art” - Csikszentmihalyi Painting, drawing, composing, performing and writing may be the solution to the lockdown blues. But do not be hard on yourself if you are not up to these tasks. Here, Csikszentmihalyi unknowingly describes a day in lockdown – if you are one of those high achievers who gets dressed. We can have flow during our daily lockdown routines if we approach them with more creativity.
Hidden Talents: Ryan Ranger My name is Ryan. I am an artist and illustrator from Birmingham who has an obsession with creating hyper realistic portraits. From a young age, I have always had an avid desire to improve my skill set, constantly researching news techniques in order to gain an improved outcome within my work. In my household, I have a twin brother who is equally as talented as myself. Throughout my education, I have always pursued art. I studied art in secondary school, a foundation in art and design during my time at college and I recently graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a Degree in Visual Communication. It was during my time at university when I started to gain more of an insight into the professional practices of the art industry. I was also able to make a transition into more digital art that has enabled me to create a variety of different editorial
style illustrations. However, I still have a strong passion for traditional art styles such as portrait drawings, oil/acrylic paintings and sculpting. For the past 7 years I have consistently been taking on commissions. I really enjoy doing this, as it allows me to work with people or companies and I am able to build great relationships through networking. I also have a following on social media where I take requests from people who have are invested in my art. I have done work for clothing brands and footballers in the past. As I progress into the art stratosphere, I aim to make my family proud and to be the best at what I do.
Student in a Global Pandemic Lockdown Samantha Humphreys For a studentâ€™s final year at university, there are many expectations for what your final year in education is going to be like. Sentimental, memorable, and full-on. However, a global pandemic is certainly not one of them, especially for myself. My name is Samantha Humphreys. I am a recent BA Hons Illustration and Animation Graduate from Coventry University. During my studies, if you asked any of my course mates, they would tell you that I am always busy and I do not stop. If anyone ever wanted to visit me, hang out or just have a chat, I would have to tell them to let me know at least two weeks in advance. I was always busy with something to do at university, whether it was being an Elected School Representative of Art & Design, assisting on bigger projects, work placements or focusing on my actual degree. When the Covid-19 pandemic came along and shut everything down around me, it is an understatement to say that I did not handle it very well initially. The first week was the hardest for me personally, since it was the week where everything I had been planning was being cancelled like slaughtered chickens. I was helping to curate the degree show, holding regular meetings as well as having several trips planned. They were all gone within a day. Just like that. Our Degree show being cancelled was the one thing that got to me a lot. Everyone had worked so hard planning and it felt like our final major projects no longer had any meaning behind them. This made it super hard to motivate myself to get any of my work done. Though that week was tough, I am not one to sit in self-pity for very long. As I said, I like to keep busy, and though the thought of spending endless days trapped inside my flat was terrifying to process, it did not mean I did not have anything to do. I always try and overcome any situation I am thrown into; I have been doing it since I was a child so it is no surprise that Covid-19 was not an exception. I became tired of all the negativity very quickly, so I suggested to my course mates and tutors that we should still have the degree show, just online! If our education could be moved online, almost overnight, then surely it is possible for a degree show to do the same. Thankfully, I am proud to say that we managed it. It was not easy to coordinate an entire course, whilst also trying to finish my final project. This was accommodated by the pressure to try and obtain feedback on your work from tutors which could take a while due to how thinly spread they were themselves. This led at times to a lot of overthinking, whether I was good enough at all
and if I would even pass. It got to the point where I thought my flat mates were mad at me when they actually were not. On one night I did let it all get to me officially and had a serious panic attack. They had to call the paramedics to get me to calm down. It has been a struggle as a student with all the uncertainty, but I am proud that both myself and others have shown resilience and have been able to prove to our future employers that we can overcome anything. Even a global pandemic. Having now completed my undergraduate studies, Iâ€™m looking into 2021 with optimism. I am aspiring to become a Storyboard artist for the animation industry. I intend to enhance my studies further, as I go onto study at Bournemouth University for an MA in 3D Computer Animation. The future has always been uncertain, but the pandemic has shown that I am capable of being resilient just like the rest of the class of 2020.
Jasmine Chan's Journey My name is Jasmine Chan. I am a Fine Art and Illustration undergraduate university student who is currently looking for placements and internships. I have had previous experience with invigilating for exhibitions with Samantha Williams and Ludic Rooms. Furthermore, I have worked with Samantha Williams and Teakster to create artwork that have been displayed to the public. Becoming an artist was a choice I made because I enjoy creating art that takes inspiration from the world around me. When I chose to take up an art course in college, it was because no other course offered the same interest as art did for me. As an artist, you are never judged by just qualification alone. It is your portfolio and connections that matter, which is something I appreciate since it means that your work is taken into consideration. Art is a subject with no rights and wrongs. It is only opinions, history and many ways of portraying a topic. Yet, at the same time, it is intrinsically linked to the world around us in ways that are unusual. In addition, art can also disseminate into many other areas of our daily lives that goes unnoticed, unless seen with a discerning eye. My artwork is influenced by American abstract expressionism using gestural strokes and movement. I also have an interest towards film due to my background in performing arts with Theatretrain and Drama GCSE. These aspects have gone on to influence to way I create my artwork. During my time in college and university, I have explored different techniques and materials. From traditional media such as oil paints to the digital such as Adobe Photoshop and Maya. Furthermore, these experiences have made me more appreciative of the variety of people who make up the creative industry; people who I may potentially work with in the future. Recently, my subject matter has consisted of issues that affect us in the social, personal and global area. Primarily, these concern topics such as privacy and consent and discrimination of different people. I aim to create work that enables people to openly discuss these matters from all walks of life. Articulating these issues holds importance for me due to the way it spreads into my daily way of living and the relationship it is creating. These topics affect us daily and it can be tricky to open a discussion. However, by creating artwork that has its subject matter based on these issues, I hope for people to be able to exchange views on these concerns. To me, art is for everyone, regardless of age and background. It is something that allows people to share ideas and create discussions about things. Art is something that is inclusive, accessible, open and can use a variety of media. Therefore, it is an honour to be given a chance to work with The Arches Project who support emerging and upcoming artists. I am excited for you to read this magazine as well for you to hopefully attend the Hidden Talents 2021 exhibition.
Hidden Talents: Giovana ToĂśws Giovana TĂśws a 24-year-old Brazilian who worked as a graphic designer, interface designer and system developer and has recently returned home from a five-month work and vacation experience in England, Italy and the USA. Giovana says â€œthat experience shifted my paradigms and made me pursue a childhood dream - to become a visual artist and travel the world. This period abroad was the time when I felt the most freedom and inspiration in my whole life, and that is why I want to register it with my own hands, and started my artistic career I started painting oil on canvas this year, but my passion for art started even before I can Remember. My artwork consists of portraying meaningful personal memories and feelings, creating a kind of visual backup or window to access them. The scenes portrayed are usually simple moments when I felt highly motivated and fulfilled. I want to make these sensations last forever and I want people to feel the same energy when looking at my paintings. I focus on simple everyday scenes such as a walk in the city, or even a talk with friends, things that usually people take for granted. The intention is to induce the spectator to think about the value of time and the small pleasures of life. I am currently experimenting in many different styles and techniques until I feel that is the one! So far, I am having a strong connection with painting urban landscapes and human portraits. I work with few colours at a time, usually analogous schemes that simulate a physical sensation such as temperature, for example. In some works, I try expressive brushstrokes and in others, I do more delicate and planned ones, but that is still part of my discovering process. I also appreciate applying high contrast shadows and subtle perspective distortions to create a dramatic depth to the subjects. Something between reality and dream. I paint how it looks in my mind and I use photos just as a reference to help me remember how things are - since I cannot always be in the place I wanted to be.
Leaving Art College David Irish One of the hardest periods of your life is probably going to be the transition between graduating and finding some sort of direction in the so-called real world. The real world was the world your teachers warned you about on parents evening, advising you not to take A Level Art, but rather to keep art as a hobby. They convinced you that there were no jobs out there, in the real world of work. I ignored their advice. This is my story. A story, though many years ago, might resonate with some arts graduates. From quite an early age, art was always an interest and passion of mine. This was partially due to winning a drawing prize at my local church, at the tender age of seven. Having received a rosette and certificate for my efforts, it only reinforced the direction I wanted to take in life. Later, arriving at senior school, I quickly established myself as the student who was good at art. Fortunately, I had an extremely talented art teacher, a Mr Walker, who encouraged me to pursue and develop my art skills to the maximum. Any spare time would be devoted to painting and drawing. I couldn’t get enough of it, whether it was reading about famous artists or developing my skills. Art belonged to me. My mind was made up and Art College was my dream, by any means possible. Art College turned out to be the fulfilment of the fantasy in my head. Likeminded people, friendships, studios, paint, the eccentrics, zany clothes and crazy ideas. It was a romantic ideal. It was everything I imagined it was going to be and more. Four fantastic years. Therefore, the last thing I wanted to do was to complete the course and make my way in the big wide world. Although totally unprepared for life as a postgraduate art student, I was that naïve it didn’t matter. I felt whatever was thrown at me, I would deal with. After spending part of the summer in Italy, I returned to Birmingham with my girlfriend, with nowhere to live, nowhere to paint and no serious plans for the future. After sofa surfing for two months, we managed to find a relatively inexpensive place to live, which at least gave us a base. Securing a studio seemed a little more problematic. Therefore, I decided to be pro-active, by wandering the streets with the idea of searching for an empty property, which could be converted into an art studio. Within days I found a place; a large space above a small engineering company, with lots of light. What’s more, to my relief and surprise, they were not going to charge me rent. This was one less expense. After spending some time cleaning and painting the room, I collected my degree work from the university and displayed it in my new studio. It gave me some sort of hope for the future; that there was life after art college. In the meantime, although I was very reluctant to do this, I signed on, and it was a stopgap. This was never a particularly pleasant experience, although it was far easier then, than what it is now. There was less pressure to find work immediately, but I shortly found suitable work as a kitchen porter. I was washing pots, cleaning floors and peeling potatoes by the dozen. It didn’t matter, since 18
it was a job and it paid. I was moving on and the art world beckoned my company or at least I imagined it did. It was only a matter of time before I was discovered. I hadn’t realised that I was in the wrong city; my paintings weren’t saleable or fashionable and I wasn’t even promoting myself. There was still a residue of arrogance in me, which would eventually melt away through setbacks and disappointments. I was on a learning curve. This is what was most important, yet I did not realise at the time. I had managed to negotiate the first hurdle, by finding a place to live with my girlfriend, a job and a studio. In the meantime, I maintained my friendships with other art students and old school friends and started playing rugby for Bournville, having been introduced to the club by another university graduate who worked in the kitchen. My life had some sort of shape to it, even if it was not perfect. I could use it as a platform for the future. Other events would lead me down unexpected avenues and subsequently, I questioned whether I was deluding myself as an artist but that came later. Looking back at my time at art college, I feel I was sold an idea about the art world. It appeared glamourous and full of opportunities, with a bohemian lifestyle to go with it. Inevitably it was very appealing to a young mind. The names Picasso, Pollock and Warhol added to this heady rarefied world of exhibitions, parties and lifestyle. In reality, life was tough, gritty and challenging. I had little money and even less success. I would advise that you should be prepared for it. Have no expectations but remain ambitious, be realistic and see what is achievable. You can still dream of the stars, unlike what we are taught at art college or what we were not taught. Without a doubt, it can be a painful experience negotiating a rocky road which you have not been given a map to. The direction you choose and how you handle it is dependable on many factors, most of all your commitment, inventiveness, skills and what is available. In difficult times, especially what is happening now, the first casualty is going to be the arts. Be strong, don’t be afraid and be adaptable to new situations. Be willing to commit yourself to art 24/7 but never do it at the expense of your mental/physical health or happiness, since nothing is worth that. I wish you luck in your journey.
Hidden Talents: Marija Linkevic My name is Marija Linkevica, also known as PwoperBrownie. I am an illustrator and graphic designer from Latvia based in Manchester, UK. Ever since I attended the first screen-printing workshop, I knew that it would become a big part of my life. Screen-printing is all about bright colours and experimenting. It inspired me to pay more attention to colours and composition in both my prints and digital artworks. Since then, I have been more interested in printmaking and its history. As part of my international placement with ERASMUS+, I even got the chance to go to Venice for eight months to learn more about traditional printmaking techniques like etching, monotype and woodcut. That experience gave me more inspiration to explore and mix different medias for my work. It also taught me to respect the materials I use for my work. Sometimes, it is better to spend more money on good quality paper.
After I returned from Venice and started my last academic year at Coventry University, I decided to come back to screen-printing. My piece, Letâ€™s Take a Brake, is a print that I made back in January, when I still had free time to work in a printmaking studio. I decided that it would be nice to create a relaxing print, which can remind me to take a break during the most stressful term of my whole university experience. I believe that both the city and the atmosphere you feel at that place could influence the work you create. Venice has a rich art history extending back to the Middle Ages. This had inspired me to study and create more traditional art, but Coventry â€“ a city that keeps on developing and growing, gave me inspiration to experiment and to do something exciting.
Imposter Syndrome Catrin Jackson Two years ago, I received an offer from my top choice university. This milestone should have been one of joy. However, I felt an immense sense of guilt. I immediately told my tutor how I was preventing a more deserving candidate from getting this spot. I was utterly convinced that the university had somehow made a mistake, despite having worked tremendously hard for my predicted grades and thus the offer. This reaction is known as Imposter Syndrome; the belief that you do not deserve your accomplishments, and will eventually be discovered as a fraud. First recognised by psychologists in 1978, Dr. Renee Carr claims that “the term now applies to both male and female achievers who are psychologically uncomfortable with acknowledging their role in their success”. Growing up, this was a common occurrence for me, and with an estimated 70% of the population experiencing imposter syndrome, I am certainly not alone. Imposter syndrome can manifest in various forms. One of the most common includes a persistent feeling of failure. This syndrome often affects high-achieving individuals, meaning they put immense pressure on themselves to succeed in order to avoid the risk of being found out as a fraud. They are often perfectionists, where even getting one task wrong can be detrimental to their own self-belief. One of the main aggravators of imposter syndrome is comparing yourself to others. It is tempting to scroll through the LinkedIn profiles of your peers, becoming entirely overwhelmed by their mountains of work experience as opposed to your own. However, it is crucial to remember that everyone is on a different journey, and will get where they need to be in unique ways. I spoke about the problematic elements of comparison to a panel of BBC journalists. Regarding how they attained the positions they have today, they all shared completely different origin stories; some beginning in a supermarket and some entering the profession via a trainee scheme. Despite these differences, they are in exactly the same place as one another, demonstrating how comparison is worthless. Lockdown has enabled me to the opportunity to confront the presence of imposter syndrome within my own life. I intend to work in journalism in the future. I was particularly concerned of imposter syndrome inhibiting my chances at breaking into this field. This was not helped by the fact that I had always assumed that top journalists had not experienced imposter syndrome within their daily working lives. However, I was surprised to learn this was not the case. When I was participating in various Zoom calls with journalists from a prestigious broadcasting company, I asked about their personal experiences with imposter syndrome. I found that many of them had battled with it, even within their daily lives. This knowledge has enlightened me to the reality that imposter syndrome is something that will not go away. However, there are ways to control it. Whenever I receive high grades or unique opportunities, I always go back through the hard work and preparation I followed in order to enable these achievements for myself. More crucially, I always recall the advice my ethics teacher gave me during a parents’ evening. She said that ‘the only person getting in the way of your success is yourself.’ I’ve always kept this message a constant within my mind, especially during interviews where imposter syndrome is noted to be most prominent. A useful way I’ve found to combat imposter syndrome is embracing failure. Going into my final year of university, I applied for two editorial positions with the student paper. When I was unsuccessful with the first, this only motivated me further to prepare for the second position. When I was then successful, I was grateful for the previous rejection, since it enabled me to work harder whilst transforming my weaknesses into strengths. Speaking to a panel of journalists revealed that they also had tales to tell regarding multiple rejections before they were successful. Though imposter syndrome is more difficult to combat, the realisation that failure is a strength is certainly a good place to start.
Hidden Talents: Tasha Johnson My name is Tasha Johnson. I am a student at the University of Leeds, where I study Arabic and Spanish. I write for my university newspaper, The Gryphon, for both the Arts and the Fashion section. I also write fiction pieces: my current projects include a (non-fiction) memoir about my year abroad in Morocco and a novel examining the concepts of fate and redemption, and whether or not violence can ever be justified. A few months into living in Morocco, and my mental health deteriorated as fast as my childhood
metabolism once had - anxiety haunted me everywhere I went. The bustling streets of the medina with its plethora of hidden wonders - tagine pots, chinaware, Fes hats, earrings for only ten dirhams! - began to hijack my senses, the bright colours and shiny trinkets overwhelming me. The busy flow of tourists became a Herculean task sent by the universe to test my patience. The country that had once embraced me with open arms had ‘turned on me’, as had my own mind. I had always been prone to anxiety, but in a place so vivid and full of life, it consumed me. I became overly acquainted with the cobbled streets of the marketplace on that steep incline leading up to Bab Boujloud, because soon, it was all I could stand to look at. The ground was safe, the ground wouldn’t make eye contact with me or god forbid, try to talk to me. To my frantic brain, no longer were the locals friendly, warm and welcoming. Now, they were dangerous, they were a threat to me - I was unsafe. In the early days, I would speak to as many people as possible, eager to practice my Arabic and enjoy the renowned hospitality of the Moroccan people. We would go for couscous at our neighbour Fatima’s house, relishing in the delicious meal she had made just for us and leaving several pounds heavier, as she insisted we eat more and more. We would stop off at the tiny cafe just off the marketplace and talk to the man with the moustache - I never did catch his name - and he would give us free mint tea as we sat in the parlour, watching the continuous livestream on the TV of the pilgrims circling the Kaaba in Mecca. We would befriend taxi drivers, recognising familiar faces, and get free sweet dates from Rachid at the local hanoot. But it didn’t last. Soon, my hackles were raised every time I stepped out of my front door, and my urge to practice Arabic was gone. The language and I became estranged: she overwhelmed me, and I would pass the
hours in class just staring at pages and pages of squiggles, understanding only a word or two. I felt emotionally drained, and even my classmates were no longer the source of joy and entertainment they had once been - they were against me too, constantly watching me, judging me, expecting me to perform. With every passing day, I felt the illusion of control that I thought I had over my own life fade away, until I found myself in a strange country with a culture I couldnâ€™t comprehend, seemingly unable to integrate. I felt like a little kid running down an enormous hill, my tiny legs going too fast to stop, flying beneath me with no connection to my brain. I raced faster and faster, in the hopes of slowing down when the hill ended, only to my small frame, it felt like it never would, and I could practically taste the ground rushing up to meet me at any moment...
I Love You - From 15 Million Miles & 6 Feet Away My love is in social isolation, Six feet apart, masked, gloved hands, forced to hide COVID-19`s viral decimation. Virtual hugs are no consolation, Our gloved hands reach outside, never inside; My love is in social isolation. A galaxy away, aberration: Screen time, blue light of phone, tears that have cried, COVID-19`s viral decimation. Language of love is in devastation: Two worlds and computer screens, love denied, My love is in social isolation. Gloved hands hold love, viral incubation, Daily statistics of those who have died, COVID-19`s viral decimation. The stars go out in our constellation, Love cannot cross over the great divide: My love is in social isolation, COVID-19`s viral decimation. Ian Henery www.ianhenerypoet.com 23
Hidden Talents: Meta Mezan My name is Meta Mezan. I am a Slovenian artist, currently studying at Coventry University. I would like to tell you about my experience with lockdown. It started with a phone call from my mother asking me to come back home to Slovenia. Since I still had lectures and all the workshops available to continue my project, I decided to wait a little bit longer before packing and heading home. Then the decision came that Slovenia will close its airports. I rescheduled my flight and prepared to leave. My plan was to speak with my course leader on Monday and leave on Tuesday. It was a Sunday before. On Monday, I was notified that the airports in Slovenia would close on the same day at 23:59. Never have I wanted to go home so badly. The borders all over the world had started to close within a matter of hours. That day, my university suspended face to face teaching. With the university closing and the knowledge that I could not return to my home country, I felt lonely and afraid. I had my finances to live in the UK until the end of the semester, however, after that, I could no longer pay the rent for my room or buy food. I found out that the university was organizing help for students like me. That calmed me down. And my schoolmates have a generous heart and were prepared to welcome me into their homes if the worst would happen. I cannot describe how much that small act of kindness meant to me in this unsteady situation. The next two weeks were washed away with wait, fear, and living half-packed, always prepared to leave immediately in case of a repatriation flight. The deadlines for my assessments were approaching and I could not concentrate. On 20th March, I received an email from the Slovenian embassy in the UK about the repatriation flight from London to Ljubljana planned for the next day. I immediately replied, booked a bus ticket, and packed my belongings. When I arrived in Slovenia, I had to go into self-isolation. I still had a lot of work to finish for my university project, so the isolation was not hard to live through. The deadline was approaching quickly. It was a relief when the university informed me about the extension of all deadlines. Due to that, I successfully finished everything. I was reading and thinking a lot during lockdown. I concluded that this pandemic is putting a mirror in front of our society. It points out not only the problems we are facing, but it is showing us the way we can solve them. The solution is in us standing together. It is important to stay awake for human rights. Now, more than ever, as we are standing on the edge of wide social-economic differences and dehumanization of nations. I am using my art to wake people up, so we can start creating a world of solidarity and equality. Each one of us can make a difference with a small act of kindness in these strange times. Letâ€™s build a better world, united with all our differences. A world of inclusion, where nature is sacred, and no life is left behind. 24
Hidden Talents: Claire Brazier Hi, I’m Claire Brazier an artist based in Wolverhampton, UK. My work is usually based around figurative paintings using oils or watercolour, although I do perform commissions and they can involve landscapes and florals too. I’ve been an artist since a young age but in terms of education, I only did art in my high school years, even though I was advised to pursue it further I never did, much to my regret now. , I’m a self-taught artist, picking up tips along the way and have met some great artists and respect them for their time.
canvas and just get stuck in. And now to this present day, I would say that I paint regularly enough to attract regular commissions but my aim now would be to solely focus on paintings and be involved more in this direction with the potential of being more involved in collaborations working on murals, graffiti in the future
I have achieved quite a few personal goals; successful tattoo studio, regular commissions, awards for my tattoos. I think my next goal would be to have my own space, solely for my For years I would draw and paintings, host my very own paint for pleasure but in 2010 exhibitions at The Arches I followed a dream of mine to Project, Birmingham and sell become a tattoo artist. For over more of my original paintings. 10 years I was creating tattoo designs and I believe this has The challenges that I find helped me push myself a little moving into a new direction further to produce paintings of art is networking. I find more regularly. it difficult to balance both creating and getting out there I began attending a few art to socialise, especially when I workshops, still life, oil painting mostly work alone! The hardest and watercolour classes. I part for me is to know where suddenly got the bug for painting to start and which direction to more and felt confident to grab a take, so pleased to be a member
of the team at Hidden Talents My most recent work is a small art collection, called ‘Bring To Light’, consisting of three paintings and focusing on just one theme. The theme being women; Expose, Unveil and Disclose. Three elements that I find striking. For this collection, I had used a palette knife to create the whole set as I wanted to get a loose yet abstract vibe to them all. I had not used a palette knife other than for mixing paint before so this was a little challenging for me but I loved the whole process and I would urge anyone to give it a go! I have a few more project ideas that I’d like to get off the ground and hopefully they will start to show consistency with my style of work. To see my work visit my website www.clairebrazier.com or you can catch me on Facebook via Claire Brazier Artist.
Hidden Talents: Hazel Hutchinson My practice considers ideas of vulnerability and human fragility in a domestic context that many people could relate to at present given our recent experiences with the coronavirus pandemic. My last project All I See (2019) was created following my experience with recovering from emergency surgery in 2019. I believe that the mental and physical issues I struggled with act in parallel to the issues many people have faced collectively during lockdown. My intention for this project was to portray a personal perspective to showcase a photographic journey from illness through to recovery by use of creativity and distraction. I develop most of my images by utilising ingredients in the kitchen cupboards or from nature instead The starting point of my work occurs from a of standard photography chemicals. I usually photograph I have taken, which I then develop create photography within my home. Doing and transform using a variety of media and this safely and with low environmental impact is techniques including collage and installation. very important to me. Traditional photography I use analogue processes and black and white produces hazardous waste materials which needs medium intentionally to pay homage to this disposing of carefully. Some photographers who traditional form of photography as an authentic switch to digital remove a lot of these challenges document. Once I have developed the images, but also face some environmental factors due I scan from a negative or print in the darkroom, to the manufacture of digital equipment and then it goes into the computer. Next, I have the batteries. images printed as a transfer and place them on different mediums and materials, paying special It is argued that photography can consist of both attention to how this can be interpreted. The art and science. It has been heavily disputed as choice of media can change the representation to which of these fields it falls under. I like to and meaning behind the original image. acknowledge both fields within my artwork. I enjoy the scientific process of mixing chemicals, In my current work, I am experimenting with documenting my findings and experiments with fusing imagery onto glass, as I am interested in exposure times. The artistic side of photography, its fragile and delicate nature. I believe that this to me, is the emotional expression within the echoes some of the emotions that I am trying to images and materials that convey a message. portray. Furthermore, glass has more longevity as the artwork will be embedded into the material. I believe that photography is the most accessible Therefore, it would last longer than a standard art-form, due to the ease of technology and wealth photographic negative. of effects which has allowed artists to produce and store artwork anywhere. Although the photography world today is largely digital (sometimes I use digital methods myself), the influence of film cameras or film effects intrigues me the most. It has allowed me to slow down my picture taking and has helped me understand the fundamentals of photography better due to the limitation of images to a roll and not being able to instantly view what I am taking. I aim to continue to use photography as the basis of my artwork and will explore alternative media as a way to express ideas and emotions. 26
Hidden Talents: Alex Bambury My name is Alex and I was born and raised in Birmingham before emigrating to New Zealand at the age of 14, where I lived for 12 years. I love illustration and cartoons and completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation in 2016 - focusing mainly on comics. I am inspired by autobiographical comics, and comics based on real life. I’m an avid people watcher and I love to witness and then do a quick sketch of humorous moments of human behaviour and interaction.
Sometimes I just skip the pencil altogether as I find drawing straight off in ink means I commit to the lines better and, hopefully, get a stronger sketch. For this series, I used a dip pen and a pot of Indian ink which was a lot of fun and This series is called Idle Hands. surprisingly very therapeutic! It’s a focus on our hands and how (Though I definitely pencilled much we can show or feel using these in first!) them, or just looking at them, in everyday life. We can show There is a lot more to see in this love, greet one another, draw series, as I have only just begun. pictures, play with our food... Images of hands can make us To see more you can keep up to feel nostalgic too. There is date with this project and other beauty in our hands that we take works of mine on my website: for granted. The unsung heroes www.illustrationalex.squarespace.com of our bodies. I usually work in pencil and ink as I love the simplicity of it. I love quickly sketching what I’m thinking, capturing the action and the feeling, then cleaning it up with the permanent ink.
'Seizure' Charlotte Moore From an early age I have always used art as a form of escapism. Inspired by my grandparents who would frequently draw and paint, I showed an interest in doing the same from a young age. However, I never believed I could form a career from this passion. It wasn’t until friends and family requested prints and commissions, that the concept of turning art into an occupation began to materialise. Consequently, I dropped out of my Broadcast Journalism course at Nottingham Trent and transferred to Birmingham City University. Three years later, I have completed the course and have been awarded with a First Class Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Fine Art. Whilst this choice was far from simplistic, the collection of works I have completed in my conclusive year are the most rewarding pieces I have ever created. ‘Seizure’ signifies a stylistic shift and a feeling of purpose within my work. Influenced by Yayoi Kusama’s ability to transcend her hardships into an immersive art piece for her audience, I began experimenting with methods of representing my own struggle with epilepsy. Each element of this is encapsulated within my recent body of works. ‘Seizure’ depicts three generations of my family: myself, my auntie and my grandfather, all on my father’s side. We all have Epilepsy, yet completely different forms of the illness. Exhibiting the concept of the ‘hidden disability’, the portraits are digitally constructed using the repeated shape of the chemical structure of our medication. Transcending my work into something digital is confrontational towards the notion of the ‘electrical’. Ironically, an electronic game triggered my first seizure, an electrical impulse in the brain initiates a seizure and now the electrical is utilised within my piece to assemble each portrait. The sizing and visibility of the structure varies with each piece, in order to indicate how manipulative the properties of Epilepsy and the medication are on the individual. From a personal perspective, it has been the consequences of taking such medication which has been the most disruptive aspect of
having epilepsy. This regards the medicine’s ability to completely disrupt your physical and mental wellbeing, which can be treacherous. It’s this aspect which I wish to stress within my work. Frequently when I inform others of my illness, they begin to say: ‘well if you have Epilepsy how can you...’, with it being a public perception that Epilepsy exists in a single form: photosensitivity. This narrow perspective is echoed within art history with depictions of epilepsy merely showing the grand mal seizure, highlighting those who suffer with it in a persistently reductive form. The series aims to highlight the frequently covert nature of the actual seizure, through allowing the audience to believe these are minimalistic photograph portraits through their realistic quality. However, upon closer analysis of the work, the audience are illuminated to the construction of those portraits, revealing the element of deception to the work and consequently provoking the audience to question their comprehension of the ‘hidden disability’. Overall, the pieces aim to create a post-modern perspective on the matter, juxtaposing archaic depictions of the illness, fuelled by historical tropes. The actual creation of the work has allowed me to stay positive during such difficult times. There is something incredibly fulfilling about the concept of taking something I love to do and metamorphosising that into an informative body of work. I feel it is imperative to do something you love in order to be successful, as the commitment and enthusiasm you can invest into something you are passionate about will always exceed anything else.
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Hidden Talents: Elaine Mackie Working in a creative field becomes more diversified and interesting when practitioners work with others to create experiences that can change people’s lifestyles for the better. Indeed, one of the most influential movements, The Bauhaus, pioneered collaboration between disciplines in its aim ‘to bring art into contact with everyday life.’ Today, more so than ever, new problem areas are emerging which require new ways of thinking and working. Where did my passion begin? Growing up I loved drawing and painting. Beginning secondary school, my favourite artist was Vermeer as his photo realistic paintings were what I thought an artist should strive for. As I became more exposed to different kinds of artists, and crucially different techniques, I could not decide which was my favourite anymore. However, studying art made me realise I needed a drawing component in my choice of career. I chose to study ergonomics at university as it’s a discipline which assimilates knowledge from other subject areas, like anatomy and engineering, to ensure the physical and behavioural characteristics of people are taken into account when designing products. To me, it seemed the kind of discipline Leonardo da Vinci might have chosen to study, based on his interest in the capabilities, functioning and proportions of the human form, and their connection with engineering. One of the areas I studied was human-machine interaction, specifically which tasks are best performed by humans, and those best performed by a machine – known as Fitts list. It’s interesting to note that whilst there is debate about whether the list is relevant today, it’s the areas in which machines and computers are exploited (or not) which varies most. Humans do not necessarily have to compete with machines, as when they work with them, remarkable results can be achieved. A master degree in Industrial Design followed, allowing me to indulge in my love of drawing as a way of depicting the needs and wants of target market users. At the time, being a designer was very much a hand-crafted process, use of pencils, pens and coloured markers, to depict the form, materials and textures of products in realistic perspective; no digital graphic design tools to adapt an image were available to exploit. Theory into practice My first role was ‘Vehicle Designer’ for British Rail, InterCity passenger services, later to be privatised. Being fortunate to work as a designer within a railway consultancy meant I was part of the full design process; from meeting the client, to sketching ideas, collaborating with engineers on concepts, right through to installation on a vehicle where the design would eventually become part of a passengers’ journey experience. Over time I became a specialist in translating brand values and corporate colour palettes, interpreting guidelines associated with achieving colour contrast within passenger interiors. In this way I was able to ensure that people with different visual impairments were able to distinguish
between adjacent surfaces, thereby making sense of the space inside the carriage interior. The brilliant thing about working in the creative industries, is that you witness the positive difference that design can make to people’s lifestyles. Since becoming an academic, I have seen how the design industry has been transformed and challenged by the advancement of technology. Students need to be flexible and resilient in the face of the fourth industrial revolution, which is a consequence of the digital transformation and blend of technologies subverting traditional relationships between digital, physical and biological domains. Robotics and AI The late Stephen Hawking had concerns that future developments in AI (artificial intelligence) could spell the end of the human race if it was not kept under control. AI is broadly defined as the science of making machines do things that require intelligence when done by humans. However, it’s important to clarify that robotics and AI are not the same. Robotics is a branch of technology that deals with physical robots. Most robots are not artificially intelligent and therefore limited in their functionality. However, amongst roboticists there is not a general definition, except the realisation that as more robots ‘learn to think’ by default they should become more sensitive to the user’s needs. Most people are familiar with how robots have revolutionised areas such as manufacturing, health and transport. Indeed, I happily recall past student transport projects which explored bio mimicry with robots resembling animalistic forms to supersede police horses, through to a personal submergible watercraft based on the form and movement of a ray to enhance tourists experience of the Great Barrier reef. It was such a privilege teaching students to help realise their design thinking behind vehicles; integrating the needs of users with aesthetics, human factors, technology, materials, manufacturing and business potential. Can a machine be creative? In terms of art and design, the use of robotics is vague. It has been argued that modern artists like Duchamp and Epstein were already depicting mechanical figures at the beginning of the 20th Century. Those already producing techno-art today, like Leonel Moura, using ‘artbots’ or Stelarc’s 9m robot which can be choreographed by the public, are more concerned with innovation and random events. For other creatives, like graphic designers, there are advantages and disadvantages with the amount of creative work that can be automated through computer graphic packages and website templates. For all the appeal of a future where there is a blurring of human and technological innovation, it is therefore the core responsibility of creatives to be flexible. Indeed, I suspect I have turned full circle, returning to my artistic roots, but now employing more digital graphic effects which allow different creative exploration. Certainly, in times of uncertainty, from professional artists through to amateurs, art has provided an escape and ability for reflection, regardless of the means used to produce it. Empowering the widest spectrum of human capabilities within society to create art appeals to my ergonomics and design instincts; and if technological advancements can help paraplegic athletes, then think of the possibilities for creating art using robotics.
Hidden Talents: Susan Birth Susan Birth a Worcester based artist work was selected from over 1,000 entries to be exhibited at The Mall Galleries in London Susan finds that expressing herself through art is the perfect antidote to the rigours of translation. Her goal is to create artwork that will instantly attract the eye and continue to spark interest in terms of subject matter, use of colour, shapes, movement, texture and pattern. She enjoys experimenting with a range of techniques and adapting their use to her personal mode of expression.
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Hidden Talents: Kelly Bryan My name is Kelly. As a writer and visual artist, I am encouraged by the escapism of photography. I like to surpass the conventional expectations of the photographic medium to investigate intimate narratives. My projects often take on a personal approach and link to my life experiences. In doing so, I hope the audience will look beyond my experience and find connections and relations to their own life. My fine-art practice often translates intangible and complex themes into cohesive pieces of visual art, in which sequencing and design play a significant role. Whilst peering through a phenomenological lens, I often question topics including belonging, domestic structures and relationships. In this process, I communicate my inner world to an outside audience using everyday scenes and objects. I often wander, looking with a photographic eye, to find shots which resonate with me and help me to understand my emotions and thoughts. This is where my love for photography came from; the ability to translate
fleeting memories and thoughts into something physical and describable. I find it fascinating that I can communicate my mind through a visual means which outsiders can interpret and relate to themselves. For me, that is what is special about photography. Overall, I specialise in analogue photography and visual experimentation which help to explain my multifaceted narratives in an ambiguous format, therefore inviting interpretation from the audience. Alongside fine-art photography, I also practice documentary and travel photography, visualising environments and cultures in a subjective manner to explore the relationship between myself and the new location. Alongside photography, I am an avid writer with a broad range of professionalism in commercial, art-based and journalistic writing. My love for all things creative and my desire to remain collaborative with other likeminded artists led to the launch of Art Link. This online platform aims to bridge the gap between young creatives and paid opportunities in the art industry. This is achieved through informative and motivational content written by creatives already making an income from said industry. Through Art Link, I hope to ask the questions that others seemed resistant to ask; these involve money, business and journeys into the creative industry. Hopefully these answers will help young creatives understand how to enter the art industry, find the paid work they deserve and feel less disheartened during this process. www.kellybryan.co.uk @kellybryanphotography
Hidden Talents: Peter Allen Peter Allen a photographer from Stirchley in Birmingham where he has lived for over 35+ years. He initially developed the Photo Digital Art style to show off this great city in its best light, but soon realised that it can be applied to almost any situation to make it look better than it does in â€˜real lifeâ€™ This style is, essentially, the opposite of Photorealism. Start with the PHOTO, apply DIGITAL manipulations to produce paintinglike ART. The aim is to make places/objects/ buildings look better than they do in normal life, enhanced by the use of vibrant colours and other effects, to make the main subject stand out from its surroundings. A splash of colour to liven up a humdrum world! www.photodigitalart.co.uk
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Art for Sanity's Sake Louise Greenhill It’s easy to feel like you are wasting your life away, working, sleeping and eating on repeat. Since finishing university and getting a job in the service industry I felt disconnected from my creative side, my degree in Art History was getting me nowhere and my minimum wage job didn’t care about me, only that I turned up on time with a huge grin plastered on. Turning to lino carving as an outlet allowed me to have something that was entirely my own, led, conceived of and made for me. Clearing tables and pot washing is mind numbing but having a project on the go gave me a purpose as I developed it at work, planning layouts, links to existing artworks and poetry. I want to encourage everyone to find their creative side, I used to see lino cutting and printmaking as something that needed a lot of equipment and space, until a quick bit of research online led to
the discovery that you only need a few key things; a cutter or two, some lino, a tube of ink, and a roller. The principle of lino cutting is to create a relief image that can be printed therefore you need to consider that it will be mirrored when printed if you draw directly onto the lino. Because lino works using a layer of ink to print a solid image there are no subtilties such as shading, this can be compensated for by using techniques such as hatching to indicate shadow or thicker lines to indicate depth. To research techniques like this I looked at Victorian illustrative engravings, such as those used in Max Ernst’s surrealist collage Une Semaine du Bonté. The illustrations featured face the same issues as they were essentially lino cutting on wood or metal to create images for mass printing. Thewaves in this Ernst piece are collaged from 19th century illustrations and inspired the wave style in my moon piece, La Luna. @blue_eyed_illustration
Mark Roberts Interview by Jamie Edwards I have recently been speaking to Mark Roberts about his artwork, and furthermore what pushes or influences him. What was very apparent to me when I first spoke to Mark was his unbelievable desire to inspire others, through community work, as well as artwork. Having helped people all over the world, Mark now focuses on inspiring young artists in his home city of Birmingham. Mark works in many - often very tangible - mediums, but it is glassworks that make up the majority of art I have seen by Mark, and they, like him himself, are intriguing. I wonder if the physical nature of Mark’s artwork shows, or rather reveals, his underlying aspirations? He takes something lack-lustre, such as a dull window, or derelict building, and creates inspiration out of that said object. Mark told me he enjoys taking elements of artworks around him, such as photographs, or an art deco inspiration, or a dragon that has been on his bedroom wall for years, and combining or altering them to make something new. Is this the same as carefully selecting much larger physical elements surrounding him in Birmingham, using them to inspire and create a more cohesive community? I’m sure I could find a pretentious articulation of the ‘meaning’ behind certain aspects of the imagery Roberts creates, however I think it would be just that, pretentious. I believe the greatest asset of Roberts work is simply its ability to provoke relaxation, and that is evoked through simple, aesthetic beauty. Of course there are underlying significance to components within his imagery, but the aesthetic beauty is what I find most powerful. Most intriguing to me is the way Mark uses of art as a vessel, to convey his message. Mark does not aim to enforce his views on to others consciously, instead his artwork makes them feel compassion, relaxation, and tranquility, thus introducing happiness and relaxation subconsciously. I find it fascinating that often the best way to push an ideology, is to avoid talking about it. Perhaps not avoid it wholly, but certainly avoid being incredibly forward and vocal. Instead of trying to make his message extremely obvious, Mark wants to provide an escapism. The word ‘utopian’ is very prevalent in my mind when I recall our conversations. The escapism and relaxation caused, will ultimately provoke compassion and so forth, thus achieving what Mark wants to achieve, without the need to preach. It reminds me of a collection of works by Walter Benjamin, which had an introduction written by a writer called Esther Leslie. The introduction didn’t preach about one needing to take an analytical mindset
into the works of Benjamin, but instead provided an escalator, encouraging us to move into the mindset she deemed necessary. This is absolutely analogous to Mark Roberts providing a catalyst for a positive, considerate, empathetic mindset within the community, and for those who encounter his work. The fact that Mark was diagnosed with Fibrous Dysplasia at a young age, and re-diagnosed more recently, makes his dedication both as an artist, and someone improving our community, even more incredible, through organising art events, or donating artwork to inspire a new generation. With the world in absolutely unprecedented times, artwork, particularly the work of artists like Mark, is invaluable, in bringing this message of hope. We should all be very grateful, and take a moment to consider the hard work of artists who are often overlooked, yet have brought hope to many throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Hidden Talents: Sanveer Bahra Sanveer Bahra is an artist from Wolverhampton who has always had a passion for art and was driven in exploring and experimenting in different ways from a young age, this gave her the confidence to pursue her degree in Interior Design at Dudley College in the West Midlands and during theses years she has travelled across Europe visiting a range of exhibitions which has given her more inspirations and knowledge within the industry. The Artist Studio Gallery is a design concept that explores the relationship between the artist and the exhibition space, it also contains a working studio space for graduates and freelance artist, and can be customised for a range of two and three dimensional work from sculpture and ceramics.
Hidden Talents: Julia Baines Julia Baines was born in Margate in Kent UK, and from a young age she was drawing whenever she could, she then moved to Shropshire where she lives and and work as an artist. After completing an A’ level Art and Crafts course at Telford College Arts Technology this rekindled the love of creative skills within her, and applied to University of Wolverhampton to study MA in Fine Art, sadly due to her having a stroke, which has affected her physically Julia was unable to continue on the course, but so pleased that her illness did not manage to take away her creativity and in 2019 exhibited in Hidden Talents exhibition in Birmingham UK Julia artistic inspiration has always been with natural forms of nature, and the wonderful colours nature produces, and she loves to work with oils, watercolour and acrylic, during Lockdown Julia has found a new love of collage and she has been experimenting with new mediums .
Julia Baines work has been pre-selected for the ‘Threadneedle Prize’ and the ‘Society of Marine Artists’ at the Mall Galleries in London, her work was also been selected for the ‘Royal Society of British Artists’ Mall Galleries, London exhibition in February 2020, and the ‘10th Botanicals 2020 Exhibition’ for Light Space and Time, in America. Julia has just recently exhibited a piece of her work at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open art online exhibition. This has been an exciting year for Julia during lockdown, with online exhibitions which have been a way of exhibiting in these difficult times for artists To see more of Julia Baines work visit her website www.juliabaines.org
Hidden Talents: Katie Clark Katie Clark is currently an illustration student and a member of Hidden Talents Collective and from a young age has always had a passioncfor art, and she believes that being an only child contributed towards that as it was always something she would do to occupy herself growing up. So, having chosen art as one of her GCSE subjects it is no surprised that she achieved an A* Sadly, throughout Katie school life she was bullied so creating art was a way of expressing herself and emotions and achieving something positive from it! Since leaving school she has bounced around different jobs not really knowing what direction to take, she then decided to study an illustration degree course from home to fit into her work and family life and now she is enjoying experimenting with different styles of art!” “During this pandemic and lockdown, I think my studying has kept me sane, it has given me something positive to focus on which I think is really important in such uncertain times Katie find that her inspiration comes from her family, home, things she enjoys, travel experiences, and anything positive in pushing her art forward and trying to gain recognition. She gains inspiration through her daughter and through perseverance, and wants to convey the message to her, “that life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate and that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it”. Katie does not have a style of art, as she likes experimenting and each piece of her work has a different style, and she has recently started her online shop and selling printed products of her work You can buy and see more of her merchandise on her facebook page @kateillustratesx Email: firstname.lastname@example.org We are absolutely delighted to have won Central England Prestige Award for being the most CreativeNon-Profit-Organisation of The Year 2020/21 for 2 years running. We would like to express our appreciation to our volunteers, supporters and family who have supported us over the years.
Hidden Talents: Roberta Feoli Roberta Feoli is an Italian printmaker originally from beautiful Benevento in Venice. She is a professional artist, professor and has manage a print shop in Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia since 2013. During Robertaâ€™s earlier career she has been a freelance journalist, an actress in her native city and it was during this time she also began studying art and graduated with honours at Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino. Feoli from a young age grew up with the noises of printing presses around her, as her family founded the oldest weekly newspaper in the area for many years.
In 2018, thanks to the invitation of Boston Printmakers and Mix it Print Studio, she was a guest artists and gave lectures in various universities and arts schools , whilst in USA she was offered the opportunity to specialise in the Zea Mays Printmaking classes, becoming the first Italian to returnhome with a further professional preparation on less toxic techniques.
Roberta has been involved in a wide range of projects one was the Erasmus project in Granada, Spain where she gain practical experience in the managing of an art space and a printshop. Feoli also teaches engraving, direct and indirect techniques at her print shop , and as a very hardworking artist, she exhibits all over the world and is the assistant for Professors and Masters from the USA universities of Indiana University, Kalamazoo University and Pratt New York.
Her continuous desire to discovered more, suffered an unexpected stop, as for everyone, with the Italian lockdown. The pandemic, the idea of compulsion and limitation prompted individuals to seekalternatives, something that occupied the everyday life and the mind, her response to this situation was to do what she love the most teach printmaking, online, with all the limitations andopportunities that an apartment can offer, with Anna Benedini, her dear friend from university time, amazing engraver and jewellery maker, they started a series of live broadcasts on Instagram and Facebook just for fun and many people found themselves being creative and having fun.
Hidden Talents: Alan Porter My name is Alan Porter a local artist from Coventry, and from a early age I was always doodling on paper and became very interested over the years in working on illustrations and wood carving and painting. Over the lockdown I have done many paintings using acrylic paints which you are viewing on this page, I have found by using acrylic paints it gives me both the transparent brilliance of water colour and the density of the oil paint. I love working with these range of paints on canvas, as I can control its consistency and texture and you can transform the way it looks and acts to comply with my preferences
Handle with care Hayley Tolley This piece was extremely emotionally driven, based on multiple aspects of my mental health over the last couple of months during the pandemic, it became a huge way of channelling my feelings. Each part of the piece represents a feeling or emotion I had at the time. I constantly felt at a breaking point and could not express it in anyway other than to put pen to paper (not literally). The dark shadowed figure represents me struggling to cope; with the fragile tape holding back the dark thoughts of abandonment and hopelessness. I have struggled many years with my own thoughts and feelings, but I have managed to cope with it until now. The pandemic has had a serious effect on my ability to cope with the intrusive thoughts due to the lack of freedom and increased stress. This piece was not originally planned at all; I found a small bit of motivation within myself to make a piece of the exact thoughts I was having. I used a lot of different mediums to convey the mass amount of negative emotions that I was unable to comprehend at the time. With the limited resources I had available at the time, I tried to create layers to add depth to the piece and I have used different mediums and materials throughout including tape, paint and ink to build it up. Although I sat for a long time completing this piece It did not feel as though I had sat there for long as I felt slightly vacant, as though nothing else mattered except getting rid of my negative emotions, my own take on therapy. Overall, I recommend to anyone who may be struggling with their mental health or well-being to use art as way to direct your emotions, allow your thoughts and feelings to create a piece in which may end up being some of your best work.
Hidden Talents: Gemma Johnson Hi, my name is Gemma Johnson and I am a portrait and wildlife artist from Lincoln in the United Kingdom, the main city in the large rural county of Lincolnshire. I studied art at GCSE and AS Level but I am otherwise self-taught and have been moving towards a more creative, portfolio career over the last couple of years alongside working in administration. My art is inspired by my time spent exploring local wildlife in my local city and beyond, found in parks, nature reserves, woodland and even on my own doorstep.I enjoy photographing wildlife and transforming these into beautiful pieces of artwork for the home to create a relaxing, inspiring home environment and to help bring us closer to nature. I also enjoy focusing on the relationships between people and animals in my artwork as a way of celebrating these special connections.
My art is grounded in mindful practices and through my art I am keen to share the benefits that mindfulness has, both from creating art and by spending time connecting with nature, which I am aware of from personal experience. I prefer to use mediums that are eco-friendly and vegan as much as possible in my work to contribute to the growing importance of sustainability. For instance, I prefer watercolour and water-based oil paints rather than using solvents and other toxic chemicals that are hazardous to both humans and the environment. In future, I plan to increase my eco-friendly practices in my art and to continue to spread awareness of this issue and the benefits that art can have for positive mental health and wellbeing. On a professional level, I plan to continue to produce and sell my artwork and to have my first exhibition of my work, whether collaborative or solo.
HiddenTalents : Shilpa Sehdev When all life comes to an end, it returns back to its carbonate beginning. In 2019 I was struck by illness; I was thrown into a coma for 15 days I remember conceptualising at that moment that I might or might not survive, but my indifference as to whether I did or did not give me a greater feeling of invulnerability. Once recovered from this chapter of my life, I began trying to understand the importance and fragility of both life and the human experience. My deeper experience through my illness and recovery taught me that rather than physical human beings, we simply just matter and there is another meaningful reality. The reality that human life and human experience are extremely precious and it is not just limited to this physical world in which we live in today. This has led to my work exploring the atom Carbon, as this atom is in everything living. In its simplest form,its charcoal, a product of destruction. That same Carbon, over a millennium, becomes a diamond, a precious rarity with enduring value and complex characteristics. This is a visual representation of my experience taking me back to my carbonate beginning, exploring the relationship between the methodical study of the material world and creativity through materials, emotions, time and science. I was born and raised in the West Midlands before moving to Leicester where I studied modules in Fine Arts looking at sculpture and installation, alongside starting my medical career. I then later moved to Oxford to complete my degree. I currently live in Berkshire and work in London. My artistic influences and inspiration came from delving into my medical career; whilst studying some of the pharmacology and pathology modules in particular, I was always drawn to the chemistry and artistic connections found within science.
My work explores and creates a connection between the two influences developed from a personal medical journey. Artists such as Mark Quinn and Antony Gormley have always been a great source of inspiration for me, due to the fact that not only do they work with human figure alone, but also the science and breakdown of it too. Not only do they work with human figure alone, but also the science and breakdown of it too. Instagram: Shilpase66 Email: Shilpa.email@example.com
Hidden Talents: Constance Prince My name is Constance Prince an aspiring artist from the West Midlands, my inspiration comes from nature, particularly flowers and this often shows when I work in layers, to give depth and texture. I begin my art as a collage using inspiring scraps of patterned paper, I work & build around that until I get my desired results. These pieces are mixed media (pearling medium, gesso, wallpaper, pouring Acrylic spray paint this is used due to
its quick drying time onto my stretched canvas.. I donâ€™t like using a reference, so I rely on my imagination, intuition and the mood of the day, I then use Swarovski or glass crystals to add a touch of Glamour & luxury. You can also see more of my work on: Instagram: @msartcprince Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 45
Paul Riding Interview by Jamie Edwards In these unusual times people have absolutely found solace, and relaxation in art. Moreover, somewhat “forgotten” mediums have seen rejuvenation, as people draw back from more abstract - or technologically driven - ones. This is where the work of Paul Riding excels. When speaking to him, Paul articulated the desire to relax when creating his artwork, and this can be seen in the work. The mediums Paul indulges in themselves, are perhaps key to this. Etching into glass, as well as paint on canvas, are very tangible mediums, and more importantly, progression is very obvious. When one is creating a photograph, there are periods of work whereby no progress is visible, even when one is putting a great deal of effort into going out to find new subject matter. Oppositely the progress and effort put into painting, for example, is constantly being shown. I believe this is the key to why Paul excels in, and enjoys, creating paintings or etchings on glass. I also believe the relaxation he finds when creating art shines through. Etching could arguably
be described as a relatively destructive way of working, and yet the imagery Paul creates brings a softness, a smoothness, to the area where his work is realised, be it a fridge door, a window, or a stand alone piece. When I have attempted etching previously, I found that I was most successful when creating rough, scratchy, expressive images, as that is what the medium lends itself too, and thus mistakes became features. However, to use the medium in a way that does not come naturally to it, “taming” it if you will, shows not just an incredible amount of skill, but also enjoyment in doing so. Be it painting or etching, Paul’s skill is clear, and it is enhanced by the equilibrium he brings into his artwork, as well as the tranquillity his artwork offers him.
Hidden Talents: Gayatri Pasricha To paraphrase from the movie Ratatouille, everyone can be a great artist. The idea is that not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. Hidden Talents supports that thought, and it is a pleasure to be a part of their first issue, on the front and back of the scenes. My little comprehension in the Indian classical arts, showed me the importance of keeping the arts open to the masses. If anyone who has dabbled in the classical arts, knows how hard it is to comprehend. So this notion of art for all, does not necessarily mean everyone will appreciate it. But those who want to experience it, should not be held back by those who have the power. Keeping artforms restricted to museums and opera houses, and limited to people who can afford access can result in the arts in becoming elitist and segregating. I chose to concentrate on graphic design because there is democratisation in the digital world. Art can come from anywhere, and anyone.
ÂŠ Gayatri Pasricha
The point of the arts could be seen in contradictory terms, its aim is to distract and illuminate, to educate and puzzle, to alleviate and provoke. In my work - Snakes and Ladders the Evolution, I tried to add all these elements. It received a microgrant from Coventry Culture and I worked to make videos for each square. The future of this artwork could be a public installation which will be experiential with people being pieces. There will be augmented reality to find more information on each square. This historical depiction of the feminist struggle in a game format to elucidate how far we have come, and how much more is desired. You can follow my work here @guy3designs Do mail me to collaborate email@example.com
ÂŠ Gayatri Pasricha
Hidden Talents: Mia James My story begins far beyond 1996. Like a violent river carving through rock, so my history was being shaped whilst I was smaller than a grain of salt. Like nature’s ability to recover and thrive no matter the challenge, so my story begins to solidify. I was born in the aftermath of Chairman Mao. His regime had morphed into something new, but the consequences of his rule linger in the air like smoke stinging your eyes. In the wake of his urge for a bigger population, the One-Child Policy was implemented. In poor areas where boys were prized, this meant an uncertain future for girls. The problem with poverty is that people are trying to survive, and it’s considerably harder to be altruistic if food and health aren’t guaranteed. I will never know what my birth family went through, but from what history tells us, I can imagine it was through sheer willpower they survived. My birth papers say I was born on 5th February 1996 in Luoyang. My parents and family members are unknown. The story told to me was that after my mother gave birth to me, she left me on a doorstep so I could be found. I was lucky, since most babies are usually hidden away and left to die a lonely death. In the vacuum before my adoption, I alternated between foster parents and the welfare centre. At 2 years old, I made the one-way journey to the UK. Growing up, I often struggled with this history. I understood that life was better in the UK, since I had access to education and eventually work. But as a child, such a history is heavy, and I had not learnt how to acknowledge it without drowning in it. All I knew growing up was that I was different. My face betrayed the features of a country that I was a stranger to, whilst my mind became saturated with Western ideals. It never occurred to me that I should demand less than a man, that education should be secondary to my domestic or childbearing abilities as is the case in some parts of the world. But, in the back of my mind, locked away far away from conscious thoughts, were the feelings of why was I not good enough to keep. For years I resented China’s OneChild policy, the blatant preference for boys even at the cost of female lives. I knew that my birthplace was poor and modernity had not yet caught up with it. But I could not shake that feeling. I always knew that I wanted to live life vivaciously. If life was an orange, I would want every last drop. If I was to be happy, I knew I needed to find myself by losing myself in the deep waters of life. I did not quite know how I would achieve that; I just knew I would. My university years were the perfect years for this. Long conversations with friends, the taste of Malibu and coke as we played drinking games before going out, kissing different lips and swaying hips in crowded, fluorescent nightclubs. Eventually falling in love with my now fiancé. I remember watching a play in London National Theatre with Katie Leung as the lead actress. Her character is a Chinese peasant born in humble beginnings and her migration to the city for work. Her desire to prove that she was more than a girl born into pig shit felt familiar to me even though I had never uttered the words. That pain and desperation to be validated in a very well-acquainted spectre. When I did graduate from University, rather gloriously resplendent in my robes and graduation hat, I felt that I could say “I told you” to China and anyone who ever thought me less of a person because of my gender. And still, that feeling to prove myself persisted. In my job interview, my boss asked me “what 48
motivates you?” I gave an answer I thought was sufficient, but he probed more. Maybe it was my period hormones, maybe it was a rare moment of complete honesty and vulnerability, but I finally uttered the words that had imprinted themselves silently into my psyche “I want to prove that I am more than being left on a doorstep.” Life prevails. I feel at peace, my past is an event beyond my control. It is a well-worn memory that no longer stings when I think of it. I am living life in all its inexplicable and chaotic glory. I am a sister, friend, fiancé and daughter. I am engaged to a man I love, a proud cat Mum and a working woman who can indulge in her vice for iced coffees and books. I grew up in Wales, a beautiful country where nature rules and the green hills roll towards the sea- a marriage of land and water. I have travelled to Greece, Sardinia, Prague and hopefully more countries. I am living in a bustling city that traded nature for towers and traffic lights. Perhaps I’ve been looking at my beginning from the wrong point of view. Perhaps my birth mother saw that my life was to be lived without the shackles of history. That my life was to take place on the other side of the world, where opportunities lay waiting for me to find. Just as I traded Wales for opportunity and self-discovery, so she traded a limited life for me with the expanse of the future where we would never know each other. I doubt I will ever find her, but I acknowledge the second most important action she did for me. She gave me life and the chance to live it all those years ago. I have learnt that happiness is not the absence of sadness, but rather the ability to accept it and not let it take more than its due. It is an idiosyncratic fusion of the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, how to live with both and enjoy life regardless.
Hidden Talents: Charlie Fowles My name is Charlie Fowles. I am a fine artist who trained at Stratford-upon-Avon college and went on to study a degree in contemporary art at Hereford. After this, I became an artist traveller in order to influence later projects I now work on to this day. I create large scales paintings on canvas from my home studio In Arrow, Warwickshire. I am constantly pushing the boundaries of expressionism and elements of surrealism. My main medium is oil pastel on canvas. I exhibit mainly in Leamington Spa and private online sales. I have been spending my time in lockdown creating oil paintings depicting aspects of water in motion. I based my collection around rivers I visit on walks where I go to think and reflect. I started painting a canvas each day to captures motion of the rivers. These paintings help me when it comes to my more complex painting that take more time.
Hidden Talents: Camelia Patrascu Camelia Patrascu is a self-taught jewellery designer from Romania with her brand Atypique and started experimenting with different environments since moving from Romania. Her interest in jewellery design began while working for a Romanian jewelry designer who works mainly with precious metals and grew to love the industry and her interest and knowledge in crystals and their healing properties. She now works with a wide range of jewellery making techniques in order to find the best ways to capture and preserve the beauty of rough crystals. This has been rather a lengthy process without having a mentor, however, this has not discouraged her and she has continued spending her time researching and experimenting to decide on the methods to use for her own collection. The interest in mysticism and alchemy played an important role and the methods she currently uses are wire-wrapping, electroforming and electroplating. The first jewellery she made in her collection was a citrine quartz wire-wrapped pendant which represents her star sign Scorpio. Other wire-wrapped pendants she crafted followed and the public interest in her creations have grown, and this has allowed her to invest in working with pure silver and copper to expand the experiment in ways of preserving organics such as plants. Electroforming is a metal forming process which requires a lot of patience and quite a few attempts and failures until done correctly but once understood, it can incorporate beautiful textures to handcrafted pieces of jewellery. Camelia proudly wears her first electroformed piece of jewellery as a reminder that makes her persevere and perfect her technique. She remembers checking the electroforming bath every ten minutes and being amazed by the visible chemical reactions that converted her organic jewellery into metal right before her eyes. Camelia described herself as a creative person who grew up drawing, painting and mostly interested in humanistic matters rather than technical and was surprised to discover that she could blend both for the sake of art.
The designer gets inspired by long walks on the Birmingham canal during dark rainy days, a perfect day for her would involve a large latte and write down lots of ideas to be made into successfully finished pieces of jewellery. Camelia loves the interaction with her customers and giving her advice on the crystals based on their needs and then designing their very own bespoke pieces of jewellery. Camelia is currently working on her first jewellery collection which will be available on https://www.facebook.com/Atypique- 354811731914982
In celebration of her first collection, she will be giving away one bespoke silver or copper electroformed ring from her latest collection.
Competition To enter all you need to do is to sign up for our Hidden Talents Magazine subscription by pressing on the link here and your name will be entered in our prize draw, the winner will be announced on our social media platforms and will be notified by email on Friday 29th January 2021
Hidden Talents: Maisy Bridgland Hi my name is maisy, I’m 18 years of age and I’ve been working in theatre for the past two years studying a technical theatre art course at Birmingham Orminston academy. From a young age I’ve always be the creative type from drawing and painting to visiting the Hippodrome every year to watch the pantomines that were being showcased, this is what started my interested into wanting to work behind the scenes in theatre. As I enjoyed designing and theatre, the two just linked together and I set off on the journey to becoming a set designer. Over the course of the two years I’ve expereinced the theatre world from setting up productions, to prop making, costume design, stage managment and of course set construction/ design. I’ve worked at the Old Rep Theatre on many different productions through college, this type of expereince makes you feel apart of the indusrty.
Here are some designs for a mask I made that was used in Phantom of the opera in the masquarde scene. This show was apart of Bimringham Orimston academy. This was as set piece I made for an acting show that was performed at the old rep theatre in January 2019 called “Road”
Lockdown, The Domestic Space, and Art Jamie Edwards The effect of lockdown on the art world is two-fold: the paradigm shift within art’s various mediums, and the changing influences on artists’ works. We will tackle the latter first. Our domestic spaces, our chosen fashions, and our “tastes” have been particularly affected by the coronavirus. Those channels of personal expression have always played a great role in influencing art, and now their nature has been entirely transformed by the coronavirus pandemic. More importantly, when we return to “normal”, there will be a clean slate that we can develop out of however we choose. Our tastes have altered because of the new nature of domestic space, as well as the way we open that space to others. Previously, people made choices regarding their domestic space with the opinions of other’s in mind. Throughout lockdown, however, this space is not being seen, so people are choosing to be surrounded by their genuine tastes. I would say that many of our domestic spaces are a show to ourselves as much as everyone else. We want to satisfy, by showing we have “nice” taste and a “respectable” way of being. However, true value lies in feeling freer, in deciding to act on one’s own desires. I feel that this notion has struck many during lockdown. Is there a weight and responsibility on our houses to be a certain way? Whilst watching “All in The Best Possible Taste” by Grayson Perry, I heard the line: “more people see you outside than in your home”. There seems to be a desire within us to externalise, rather than invite in. By externalising, we always have a constant to come home to. However, during lockdown, we have had no choice but to enjoy our domestic space, which explains why it has changed. Perry also mentioned a desire to “Belong to the tribe”. When we have free rein, we are almost too individual for our own liking. With no external rituals determining our belonging, we can do anything we like. Perry captivatingly stated: “taste is not just about who we are, but about distancing ourselves from who we used to be”. That progression, that movement, has been halted. Our homes are filled with romanticised memories, and the lack of opportunity to make new ones may bring sadness, which will undoubtedly influence artwork. Some impacts of the pandemic are more prominent than others, such as the closing of galleries and a lack of artistic subject matter, but there has also been some less apparent ones. For instance, I hope that some of art’s pretentiousness is lost as people cease to pretend false importance. Moreover, it is refreshing to see people create art for their own entertainment, which positively distances itself from the idea that every action needs a “reason” or a certain amount of significance. We should not forget “old” ways of creating art, as it will soon become clear that stagnant or stale mediums have been given the opportunity to emerge with new life, due to the rapid phase of paradigm shift. This period of societal uprooting has been key for the blossoming of new ideas, as has happened in the past with the “Anti-Painting” of Joan Miro, or the abstract art of the DaDa movement in the early 20th Century. Since photography is a fairly young medium, with digital representation still firmly in its infancy, there has not been many periods of extreme paradigm change. Perhaps the most fundamental paradigm shift in photography came in the early 20th century. Pushed by the early surrealist photographers, such as Alexander Rodchenko and Man Ray, we began to consider photography as a subjective, elusive art form, rather than as a science. More recently, we have had the evolution of digital technology which has, during lockdown, exposed the sheer power and influence of photography. I hope that we now begin to treat the medium with the consideration and respect it deserves. This will only be possible due to the rapid paradigm shift that has been provoked by the extreme circumstances. As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, I hope that we can take away some positives from the unprecedented experience. In particular, I hope that this period will lead to more artistic honesty, as people come to realise their true, authentic tastes.
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The Arches Project, Adderley Street Digbeth Birmingham B9 4EE Tel: 0121 772 0852