I was born in Manchester, England in 1952 into a rather large and eccentric family, I being tenth of twelve children. As you can imagine there was never a dull moment, the house was always full of activity and interest. My dad was a welder by trade but drawing was his passion and he was very good at it. He would often draw his workmates in the rest periods.
Drawing by my father, S. J. Wilson.
Money was in short supply but that never stopped us from having a rich and fulfilling life, we just did things a “little” differently…
We always had a plentiful supply of drawing equipment using carpenters pencils and the back of blue prints that dad salvaged from work. It was this kind of resourcefulness and thinking that not only provided our basic needs but also our spiritual and creative ones.
What is your earliest creative memory?
My earliest creative memory was figure drawing in lipstick on my dad’s baldhead while he was sleeping.
My fondest creative memory was the biennial event of redecorating the house. This was always a family affair where we all pitched in to strip the wallpaper. The anticipation would build as the walls beneath started to reveal themselves and squeals of delight and laughter would ring out with each fresh discovery. Growth charts, drawings, poetry and memories were exposed. Once the walls were completely stripped we were given carte blanche to draw whatever and wherever we wanted. Eventually our work was all covered over with fresh wallpaper, hidden from the world, until the next time.
What drives you to do what you do?
I have deep rooted need to create and express ideas, the more I create, the more I need to create – put simply it’s an addiction.
Who/what are some of your creative influences?
A few years ago I started to develop a particular trail of thought that I knew would encompass a way of thinking capable of underpinning my art practice.
At this time it was quite a revelation to discover how much I had in common with the Dada movement’s philosophies and practices. It was in response to this I developed my own philosophy called maMa.
From the performance video What is Art?
“…maMa has not only responded to, but also reacted against some of Dada’s philosophies and practices. In doing so it has adopted those methods that are in keeping with its ideology and practice, such as the use of chance, the arbitrary act, and the meanderings of the mind.
“In reacting to the negative and destructive tendencies of Dada, maMa has tried to address the Dadaists need to shock, exclude and affront. In understanding their brutal approach, it has been possible to build a new model, one which utilises a positive approach that is based on the very act of creativity. In this respect maMa leans more towards the approach of Yoko Ono, whose work is not outwardly aggressive, but nevertheless challenges its audiences by undermining their compliancy. She often turns the viewer into participator in a manner that seemingly relinquishes the artist’s control, but is in fact placing the viewer in a situation where they have to confront their own values and consciences”. (extract from maMa - Honours Thesis, 2005)
Are you self-taught, formally trained or acquired skills from family/ friends?
All of the above.
Any medium you would like to explore that you haven’t done yet?
I am primarily a painter but my work extends far beyond the canvas. I have spent some years ‘painting as performance’ both within the public arena and the gallery context. The effect of this process is transformative. The paintings often become the ephemeral element of the work and the documentation the end product. My work has led me into the fields of painting, drawing, installation, performance, video, printmaking and photography but is not limited to these as each project sets it own parameters.
live performance at The Kurb, Lorraine Corker and Lorretta Gibbs
Did you always want to be an artist, or did it come later in life?
I always wanted to be creative. It never occurred to me that I could or should be an artist. Going to college was merely a means of acquiring the skills to work in industry. I gained a diploma, but before I had a chance of putting my skills to the test I started a family. Then, just like my parents had done, my resourcefulness and creative skills were employed putting the quality into our lives.
It was some twenty years later when I had the opportunity to enter the art world. I won a prize with my first painting and I went on to have a variety of solo and joint exhibitions in which I made good sales. I was invited to curated exhibitions with well-known and respected artists but still I did not dane to call myself artist.
Eventually I went to university to study fine arts and made a deliberate decision to put behind me everything I thought I already knew. I went out of a limb with every project, daring to push my knowledge and capabilities to the limits, courting failure at every turn. It was through this process that I eventually emerged and began to call myself an artist.
Painting as performance in The Space
What are some of your creative goals?
The work I do invariably generates more ideas and inspiration for future projects than I can handle at any one time. I have therefore decided to reinvestigate those possibilities with a huge degree of enthusiasm. I don’t plan to do any more ‘live’ performance, although I do not rule it out.
from visual diary
What do you like about working in Perth?
I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision to settle in Perth as there seems to be so much more support for the arts out east. But I quickly dispel those notions. I love the lifestyle here and I could, and perhaps should push myself a little more to belong to the wider art community both here and over east.
How do you see the creative scene in Perth? What if anything, do you think would improve it?
I believe there are a wide variety of things to see and do, but they are not necessarily main stream. Enough for me to run myself ragged going to all the art exhibitions, shows and events, (from which I have now taken a back seat). The mainstream theatre and music scene can be quite prohibitive and unfortunately we do miss out on some of the major events. The arts should be so well supported that it would be impossible to go anywhere without having some kind of encounter with the arts. Well, I am allowed to dream aren’t I?
Painting from the trans-Pose performance.
How can people find out more about your work?
I am in the process of building a web site, which should be up and running shortly.