Following on from my last two posts, I thought I could post the biography I sent to the Art teacher. It gives a little information about where I’ve come from and the important influences in my life…
I was born in 1967 in Bristol and after skipping around the country for a few years (Portsmouth, Bristol, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey), I’ve come back to Bristol to stay. My mother (Wendy Jelbert) is a painter and writer of art books, and my father is a retired BBC engineer. The combination of the things they loved (art, film, sound, music), shaped my interests from a very early age.
I come from a long line of female painters. My grandmother was an amazing woman; not only was she a beautiful painter, but she was also an accomplished violinist, writer, professional model and pilot! She was also an ice skater, performing in ice skating shows, and I nearly forgot – she was a nurse too. My mother has always painted and when I was a toddler, she would stand inside a large playpen with her canvas and easel, whilst my brother and I roamed around outside the wooden bars, unable to reach the paints!
In the 70s life was very different, of course, and my dad would take me to the BBC with him sometimes where I would spend the day drawing on the back of the news readers’ scripts. I remember once having to sit at the news desk and do a sound check for the studio – those were the days!
I went to Portsmouth Art College to study Graphic Design Graphic Design and was lucky enough to have a really good tutor who opened my eyes to the beauty and potential of great typography. He loved the clean look of the Swiss graphic designers and even took us to Basel in Switzerland to look at one of the best Art Colleges there.
My next step was to study for a degree in illustration at Bower Ashton, Bristol (1987 – 1990). I was able to explore new techniques such as animation, paper technology and story boarding for TV. After leaving Art College with my first class honours degree, I worked as a freelance illustrator with a London Agent and had my work published in print and on BBC TV. After a couple of years, though, I decided to concentrate on my own painting.
I painted for galleries and exhibitions and also took on private commissions. In 1992 Lord Bath bought one of my paintings for Longleat House, which was an incredible boost at the time and started to show in London – at Christie’s, Bonhams and elsewhere. In 1997 I had my first child and painting took a back seat for a while but I did carry on and started to experiment (when I had time) with children’s scribbles, hand prints and footprints – incorporating them into paintings. I also started to write children’s stories and at one time had Orchard Books interested in a book, but unfortunately the editor in question left to have a baby and my book was dropped.
Alongside my art work, I have also worked part-time in the NHS, which is something I have really enjoyed. I have had the privilege to work with psychiatric patients, and stroke patients and to work alongside professionals passionate about their work. Over the years this has inspired me to paint about themes such as the heart, giving birth and psychiatric problems. In 2009 I did a foundation course in Art Therapy and in October this year, I’m starting a part-time Master’s degree in History of Art, researching into the way pregnancy has been portrayed in 20th century Art.
In 2010 – 2011 I studied for a PGCE which was quite an experience – very challenging, both emotionally and academically, and although I initially applied for teaching jobs within special schools, I decided to do some private teaching at home and carry on with my books and painting. I would, however, like to teach at degree level and this is partly why I’m doing my Master’s.
My children are all keen on Art and my niece is just about to start a foundation course. Being an artist does have its frustrations but I’m really excited for her and wish her the very best of luck…