Like many others I have overcome many hurdles through my childhood, I was a very determined child and didn’t let anything get in my way, I was determined to learn an instrument, rock climb, tie my shoe laces and put my hair in a pony tail and many more things, but despite these things I did struggle with confidence and my limb difference was at the centre of this. I was unable to show my little arm to anyone and was crippled by any questions or attention towards it.
But through doing the things I enjoyed I was able to overcome this and became the confident person I am today.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist, it is something that I have always enjoyed and have always been encouraged by my family to pursue. I have spent the last 7 years following my passion, I have a BA Degree in Fine Art 2015 from Manchester School of Art and an Masters Degree from the Slade School of Art 2018, during this time I have moved out of my family home and moved across the country. I have been home sick and struggled to be away from my loved ones, but I have also had some of the best years of my life.
I was able to be independent and do things on my own and through this my confidence has continued to grow. I found that my limb difference was the last thing on my mind and despite moving in with strangers, starting new courses I never once was questioned about my ability to achieve my goals.
I was seen for my talent as an artist and despite my difference I was able and encouraged to make works without any question. I now make large installation artworks that fill entire rooms, I am constantly up ladders making the biggest works I can possibly make, and through these works I have tried to highlight that despite my difference I am able to achieve anything.
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have done a commissioned artwork for ITV,
called ITV Creates, they commissioned 52 artists to redesign the ITV logo which was shown for one week of the year, they were promoting artists from around the country from all different backgrounds, I was privileged to be a part of it and was amazed to see myself on national television, and not just as an artist, but as a woman and someone with a difference which is underrepresented in the art world and the media.
Here is the link to my ITV Ident and interview
I, without a doubt, have achieved more than I can image in the last ten years and as we enter a new decade I am reminded of the many things I have been fortunate to do over this time. But of course everyone encounters problems and setbacks, for me these have fortunately not been related to my limb difference, but more financially being able to pay for and do a masters degree has had its problems. I had to leave London and move home whilst in the middle of my studies and I was devastated to have to take a year out from my course. I felt lost and unable to do anything about it, but I was able to find myself a job and the local supermarket. This although was not my career of choice it is something I know look back on as beneficial part of my journey, I learnt skills that have got me where I am today.
While I had this job, I found myself on a daily basis having to explain and defend myself, mostly with questions from customers who where just curious to why or how I had one arm, but this was not something I was used too and at times it did become overwhelming, and sometimes I was astonished by the ignorance and complete lack of manners of some people, comments such as “its great you are able to work” and “oh I’m so sorry I didn’t realise”. After explaining to them its fine they still wouldn’t let me help them pack their shopping bags although I was completely able to and it was my job!
I found myself wanting to educate and help others understand but I most of the time felt like I was just hitting a brick wall. Now I am more grateful than ever that I am able to educate people in a different way and bring awareness though the artwork that I do, through my art commissions, exhibitions and workshops that I have done with adults and young people.
I am currently working as a gallery assistant and the Victoria and Albert Museum part time, as well as my own artwork which I continue to make, I am hoping to do more workshops and commissions this year.
My job at the museum is to look after the galleries and help visitors around the museum. The best things about my job is that it is a place I enjoy being, I get to spent my day in a museum with hundreds of wonderful objects and I enjoy learning about them and the beautiful architecture of the building.
A funny moment
I did once have a man come up to me while I was at work and he just said “SNAP” at first, I was bewildered not understanding what he was talking about, until I saw that he had one arm too! We both had a little laugh about that.
I work with a team of gallery assistants who are lovely and creative people, they really make the job worthwhile and enjoyable. Despite have to work over Christmas and new year!
It is a job that is flexible and it means I am able to spend more time doing my own art.
My ambition is to continue making artwork, and most of all to continue enjoying what I do. As for my role at the museum, I would like to continue in the role I have, with the possibility of gaining some experience within the education team, I would like to do more workshops and encourage young people to enjoy and take part in the arts.
My advice for other Reach children
Whatever your ambitions or dreams are, don’t let your difference set you back or discourage you, if it is something that you enjoying doing no one will see your difference as a setback or a disadvantage, they will see the talented person that you are. And when you do need a little help never be afraid to ask! I have in the past made mistakes and struggled with things because I was too stubborn to ask for the help I needed, I have learnt that asking for help does not make you weak, it shows the you are even stronger!