"That I possess a hybrid identity as both a researcher and an artist is not to say that I perceive a significant disconnect between these two kinds of practice. At their most elemental levels, both art and academia represent highly rigorous forms of knowledge production and dissemination, fundamentally concerned with understanding—and potentially transforming—human social life. I strive to stay both, and to make work which does not merely illustrate theory, but generates it too."
With tongue in cheek I define myself as a contemporary folk artist. ‘Folk’ is a slippery and divisive term, with some uncomfortable associations, however for me it doesn’t represent a specific vernacular or style, nor set of rustic artefacts once gathered by Victorian collectors and promptly preserved in aspic. Instead, it’s what can happen when people come together, regardless of anything, to share in cultural practices they create for themselves. My practice aims to draw out this kind of folk via contemporary re-workings of ‘traditional’ performances and skills, and in the creation of hybrid forms, showcasing the ‘folk’ arts of the 21st century (such as British carnival performance and 'hand-blinging'!).
I often work with communities, sometimes collaborating over long periods (for example, working with carnival troupe dancers since 2013) and at other times working in short bursts to explore an idea (such as my 4-week residency, ‘Make Your Own Entertainment’ in Stoke-on-Trent in 2015, and ‘Rose Queen Re-imagined’ project in South Manchester, 2013).
Building on my background as a folk musician—touring with the BBC-Folk-Award-nominated act, Pilgrims’ Way—my work aims to challenge narrow portrayals of the traditional arts—typically associated with historical depth, rurality and masculinity— through emphasis on the dynamic cultural contributions of working class communities, particularly women.