In 2001 I entered work as usual for a local open exhibition. In the past, something from every artist had been included, but this time, they were more selective and seemed to be attempting to attract entries from further afield and my work was rejected. I decided to look elsewhere to display my work. I remembered seeing an article in the Sunday Times a year before, about a new group of figurative painters called the “Stuckists”. There seemed to be something genuinely new and daring about them and I went online to see if they had a website. They did, and it proved to be an unusual and somewhat labyrinthine one. I emailed with a link to my work on www.welshpaintings.co.uk and received a positive reply almost immediately. You could not join the original Stuckist group, though, you had to form a group of your own. Mine became the “Wrexham Stuckists”.
I was encouraged to produce a website for my group and taught myself basic HTML with some help from Carol Vorderman’s “Guide to the Internet”. The difficult part was finding out how to get something online. I eventually found the magazine “Web Pages Made Easy”, with a CD of WS FTP Pro, and soon I had a few words and an image of a painting on the Internet.
In 2002 I took part in a big exhibition at the “Stuckism International” gallery in Charlotte Road, Hoxton. My work was hung in the basement. The gallery was owned and run by the co-founder of the Stuckists, Charles Thomson. I made several pilgrimages to it.
I like the Stuckists because of their support for figurative painting and because I feel they are genuinely original. My favourite point from the Stuckist Manifesto is: “Success for the Stuckists is to get out of bed in the morning and paint.
In2004, Charles informed me that the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, was to give the Stuckists a big exhibition. Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art at the Walker, visited Stuckism International to select work for the exhibition and in August 2004, Charles asked me to stand in for him while the work was being hung. I worked at the Walker and the Lady Lever Art Gallery (which contained part of the exhibition) for five weeks helping to curate and hang the work.
Ann Bukantas helped us a lot. We will always be grateful for what she did for us. I was made very welcome by her and all the staff during my time at the Walker. I had nine paintings in the exhibition. There was some lively debate between us and the Walker about the exhibition. We wanted a full “Salon Hang”, with paintings filling the huge walls right up to the top. I remember arguing that our exhibition was an installation, so that the Salon Hang was part of our art work. In the end the Ann let us do it. The exhibition ran from the 18th September 2004 to the 20th February 2005.
Our daughters in London
During this period our daughters Emily and Eleanor both moved to London. My sister Gill and husband Bob were very kind to them, having them to stay while they looked for work.
In 2005 Elfyn Jones, Geraint Dodd and I staged an exhibition of the Wrexham Stuckists at the Oswestry Visitor and Exhibition Centre, with the help of Sue Miller, the exhibitions officer. There were eleven artists in the exhibition. The local press and radio were involved and I made a speech at the Private View.
During this period I joined the North Wales Artists Association, run by the sculptor Hamish Wier. We had various exhibitions, including one in the Hanover Gallery, Liverpool, where someone liked the abstract quality of my painting Supermarket Aisle.
I also showed work at a gallery in Putney and at the Red Rag gallery, Stow on the Wold during this period.
In 2003 my friend David Bailey and I worked on a critique of Conceptual Art for my website www.stuckismwales.co.uk. We thought of it as a wakeup call and referred to it humorously as Trumpet Blast. We meet regularly to talk about art and ideas generally, with lunch in the Hollybush pub and call ourselves the Hollybush Philosophical Society.
I also helped various young people connected to the family in this period with their maths and physics during this period.
My Friends and My Mother
My friends Andrew Tourell and John Dyer died in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Andrew was an actor and we used to compare notes on our respective careers and play speed chess long into the night. I met John Dyer while training as a teacher and we frequented the pubs of Bangor such at the Globe.
In 2005 my mother suffered a stroke. Later that year she had to move into a care home in Llanrwst called Cartrefle where my aunt Dora was a resident. Later she moved into another care home at Rhos on Sea called Aingarth. I visited her at Rhos and we would sit in the car eating fish and chips on the sea front. She died in 2007.