When I was in primary school I asked my parents if I could have a briefcase as my school bag. My wish was granted. Made from black polyester, it was a mini-version of my dad’s. Locked with the code 0000, it protected my precious possessions, which was mainly a note from my playground pen pal. The letter was covered in top secret words and smiley face stickers.
This bag was not pink and girly, or of a toy animal like my previous ones. It was small and powerful, and I could be anyone and do anything.
Paper collage, gouache, quink ink and silver ink on paper. 2016
Illustration based on the following extract from Roald Dahl's 'Fantastic Mr Fox':
'I therefore invite you all,' Mr Fox went on, 'to stay here with me for ever.'
For ever!' they cried. 'My goodness! How marvellous!' And Rabbit said to Mrs Rabbit, 'My dear, just think! We're never going to be shot again in our lives!'
We will make,' said Mr Fox, 'a little underground village, with streets and houses on each side - seperate houses for Badgers and Moles and Rabbits and Weasels and Foxes. And every day I will go shopping for you all. And every day we will eat like kings.'
I am standing at my bedroom window with my mother, my eyes filled with tears. I am approximately seven years old.
‘What’s the matter?’ My mother asks.
After thinking a moment I reply, ‘ I don’t want to give birth.’
‘I think you have a long while to wait until you have to worry about doing that.’
Gouache and pencil. 2016
I am standing on a doorstep approximately six years old. My mother hands me a brightly coloured present, and I am asked to ring the doorbell. In my memory, the paper consists of neon pink ‘happy birthday’ lettering, with a metallic ribbon that has lost its curl. Most children I imagine would feel excited by the prospect of entering a birthday party. There was promise of jelly and cake; and pass the parcel. I however didn’t feel excitement. I feel sick, like I have already eaten too much jelly and cake.
Inside I remember the flooring of the village hall to be a dark brown vinyl and the fleeting appearance of a pastel pink dress. When it came to the time of singing happy birthday, I as usual, mouthed the words. This remained a secret, as everyone focused on the one or two particularly enthusiastic participants; the ones that were often labelled as the class clowns at school.
Now, twenty years on when I ring the doorbell of a party, I am transported back to that doorstep – feeling like I have just eaten too much jelly and cake.
One day at my granny and da’s bungalow, I heard a thud which seemed to come from the living room window. Da and I went to investigate and found a small freckled bird on the ground. I was instructed to find an empty ice cream box and fill it with paper towels.
I added some sultanas, as that is what the local blackbird chose to eat and thought this little sparrow might want some too. It was to recover in their greenhouse, which had now became an animal hospital in my mind; full of chinchillas and exotic parrots. The next Saturday, I headed straight into their garden towards the greenhouse to check on the patient. Da stopped me in my tracks.
'She’s made a full recovery and flew out of my hands this morning'.
Filled with glee, I turned back into the bungalow, failing to notice the upturned soil in the flower bed now marked with a little handmade cross.
Gouache on card. 2015
In my childhood games I liked to serve. The ‘toy’ tea set in my granny’s cupboard, a mismatched set compiling of a small copper teapot, a jug and sugar bowl never became dusty. Teas made from leaves from the garden, pansies and violets, with endless sugar lumps.
It was after seeing a cashier in Safeway, a young woman who seemed so grown up – with several rings on her fingers, that I started playing shop in my imaginary games too. Accepting club wrappers as currency in a shop selling scrunchies, butterfly stickers and paper clips. Playing both customer and shop keeper, with rings on my fingers.
Plasticine and paper. 2008
Gouache on paper. 2016
These animals were the tabletop decorations for my wedding in May 2016.
Wafer, icing and snow. 2010
Pre and post Miss Havisham's wedding breakfast scene inspired by Charles Dicken's 'Great Expectations'.
Gouache, paper cut-outs and cotton wool. 2016
The Cornfield Project, a FUSE Spark commission, June 2010
The Cornfield Project was a collaborative installation with Matthew Ashdown and was part of the 2010 Fuse Medway Festival.
About the project
On the outskirts of Medway there is a deep-rooted farming community that is often forgotten. Cornfield is a dreamlike, walkthrough exhibition that will plant the topic of local agriculture back where it belongs, in the foreground. The visual feast, created by Matt Ashdown, Lucy Noakes and pupils from the area, will be exhibited in the school environment, accompanied by insights into the reality of farming life.
This is a tale that I always retell. It started in a classroom, circa ’94. I was 6 years old going on 7. A boy wrote down on a piece of paper the words ‘I love you’ and handed it to me. I remember being surprised by the neatness of his writing, as well as his out of blue declaration of love.
The next day, our teacher announced that we were going to pick characters for our school play, Cinderella. The boy in question was chosen to be Prince Charming and was asked to pick his Cinders. Excited by the prospect of playing dress up; and the desire to finally end my longstanding character portrayal as a mute fairy, I waited to hear my name.
I ended up playing the ugly sister. I guess at that time the slipper didn’t fit.