Art that is Conceptual

Putting a label on anything is something I try to avoid as it then fixes it and doesn’t allow for change. Within the art world they seem to like their labels, Post-modern, modern, participatory, surrealist, abstract, etc., etc., some take this very seriously, and woe-betide if you mislabel yourself or your work. It can all feel a little too much for me sometimes. So, taking all that into consideration I will attempt to explain conceptual art. (note the absence of capital letters as that would be something entirely different … I kid you not)

This can be difficult to appreciate, value or ‘like’ for the trained and uninitiated alike. When I first began this journey I had difficulty appreciating a Rothko painting of what looked like a big red square and don’t get me started on ‘found objects’. But then I encountered work by artists like Dorris Salcedo, Clare Twomey and Eva Hesse to mention but a few. Conceptual art is no different to any other form of art, in that; there will always be examples available that range on a scale from ‘unsuccessful’ to ‘blow your socks off’. What that looks or feels like from one person to the next also has a scale. I believe it is a good thing that we differ; Gilead is not a place I wish to live.

In a nutshell, conceptual artists attempt to present work that makes visible the thought process going on inside their head. Like everybody’s thought process, this is something you as a viewer may agree or disagree with. The process undertaken while making a piece is often more important than the actual visual representation of the finished piece. The subject matter, the materials chosen, the way these materials are used/repurposed, the size, the placement of a final piece, sometimes the time it takes to make, view, experience something is all considered and intentional when it comes to conceptual art. Work may be finally presented for viewing as a film, sculpture, painting, performance, drawing, print, installation, photograph, interaction. I am sure I will have forgotten some form, but you get my gist. When the concept is the focus, the artist is asking you to look at a lot more than what you see in front of you.

Opening night is never the time to experience art. It can be fun, but my advice is always come back another time to see the work. Particularly if you intend to invest in it and bring it home with you. Artists who create work and put it on view for the public, do so for it to be looked at, felt, (either physically or internally) questioned and appreciated (which is very different to ‘liked’). Sometimes the intention of the artist is obvious, other times it is not. Some artists consider the transmission of their intention to be central to the piece. Some want to represent an object in a place and space. Some wish to demonstrate a finely honed skill for your appreciation. Others want to plant a seed and let it ruminate inside your head. More do not consider the viewer to have any part to play at all.

Just like individuals, the art world and what it produces, is varied and has something to suit everyone. There is no right or wrong, there is just different. (Except of course Donald Trump and his supporters …. That’s just wrong)



For me, the process I go through while creating a piece of work is all important. It involves a lot of exploration and experimentation. The materials I eventually decide upon must feel right.

I have spent many years learning how to use a variety of specialised materials to have the skills in my toolbox when I need them. Some materials come with innate properties. So too do the skills necessary to use them. These aspects are all-important when choosing whether to use or not.

For example, if I want the work to speak about an issue that is ingrained, I might choose porcelain. Porcelain has a ‘memory’. You must be cognisant of how you handle it in its raw state, as any imprint will show in the final piece. (Which for me reflects life) I can intentionally inject a mark that may be invisible throughout the entire process until it is finally fired. The viewer seeing this final mark may think it a ‘mistake’ or ‘imperfection’ but chances are It was intentional.

Or alternatively I may choose a process that involves crochet, since it comes with its own innate knowledge and history. Chances are I will use the process, or the finished product, in a way that is not traditional.

I like to include texture and imperfections. Nothing in my work is there accidentally. If I use seaweed, it can be due to the type of seaweed, the time of year it was harvested, the location I found it, the translucent properties of it or its organic nature.

A lot of artists work this way, it is not unique.

When I completed the MA I was set to springboard on to a path of large-scale exploration of immersive spaces. This was due primarily to the fact that I was awarded the studio bursary / residency. I had also begun to branch out and include video and performance as a means of display….  but Covid 19 had other plans.

Due to a generous bursary for The Arts Council, I am now back on track. Currently I am exploring the concept of ‘Home’.

Throughout the website I have included information about different materials that I use and why. Enjoy the search and exploration.

FEET are a reoccurring motif in my work.

They represent many factors and ideas, so when they are present in my work, I am referencing much of the following without stating it directly.

Our footprint is as unique to us as our fingerprint.


  • I walk around a lot in my bare feet (this often seems to upset/ unsettle some people).. some do not like ‘unclean’ feet walking in their space, yet they do not have the same difficulty with shoes, which are picking up the same dirt; perhaps because it is less visible? If I simply put on a pair of flip-flops I notice a different reaction, so perhaps it’s the fear of hurting my feet, as the same portion of my feet are as visible. (I have had many responses when I pose this question), sometimes it is a cultural thing. We associate poverty with bare feet.
  • I did a number of surveys about people’s views on feet. (their own and others). The responses were on both ends of the spectrum but very definite. (people do not have the same reaction to other parts of the body – like elbows) People seem to either love or hate … touching the feet of others, having theirs touched etc., There was however, a universal liking of babies’ feet.
  • When my father was nearing the end of his life, he occasionally asked me to massage his feet as it relieved some of his pain. I always felt privileged and honoured to do so.
  • In the final month of my first pregnancy the sole of my son’s foot was identifiable through my skin. I used to hold on to it sometimes (often trying to push it down and ease the discomfort, but…) when he was born, I missed it. I was in awe of his beautifully formed feet. I associate them with birth.
  • I also associate them with death as the big toe is where I see the mortuary tag in movies.
  • Once I observed a young Asian man visiting his elderly mother after a long period of absence and I was humbled by his greeting. When she ran out to meet him (both with unchecked tears of joy) he knelt down and kissed her feet (bare and dirty). I know this is a custom but observing the gesture, performed with such love, has stayed with me for many years.
  • I spent years not liking my own feet. I overlooked the fact that they are the body part that bears all my weight continuously, largely without complaint. They are the body part I pay least attention to.
  • I love the look of well cared-for toenails.
  • I studied reflexology for a while just to become familiar with the practice.


Cultural /Religious/ Ceremonial:

  • Christianity: (a) stigmata, (b) the body part often highlighted in images of Christ or the disciples, (c) as a child hearing the story of how Jesus brushed the dirt from his feet when leaving a town as a sign of not being welcome… whatever intended message, all I got was …”here, keep your dirt”
  • Feet washing shows up in many religions; Episcopal churches, Mennonite church, Jewish religion, Muslim ritual of wudu, Roman Catholic Maundy Thursday (originally an act of hospitality in Palestine homes) the washing of women’s feet was not officially allowed in the church until 2016, when Pope Francis changed the Roman Missal… I remain permanently angered by adulterated interpretation of what constitutes belief / rituals in faith systems.
  • The washing of feet is often used in wedding ceremonies
  • Extensive research into the tradition of foot binding in China was an eye-opener for me. This horrific practice is still being carried out in some remote regions despite being outlawed. But before feeling superior… do remember we wear some of the most ridiculous footwear in the name of ‘fashion’.
  • And let’s not pretend that China is alone in its abuse of the vulnerable members of society.