photo © James Hardisty for Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd


Born Liverpool 1962. Studied Fine Art at Leeds Poly. The Ripper Years. Proper hardcore. It made me fearless, resourceful and completely unemployable. My early works were three dimensional pieces made from old tights and hessian, using methods developed with fellow student Mirella Paganuzzi who I worked closely alongside for most of the 80s.


I first exhibited in the New Contemporaries at the ICA in ‘82 where my exhibit (‘all furry pudenda’ said the Sunday Times) was bought by Nicholas Treadwell, who acted as my gallerist for some years after. This was possibly a Kamikaze move career wise, but I was perversely attracted by his breathtaking ability to annoy the conservative art elite. His talent to piss off the entire art establishment eventually got him barred from just about every art fair on the planet. However he always treated me with the utmost respect and for many years he was the only fucker out there championing my work, setting me up with free studio space and accommodation in his crumbling Kentish mansion on my graduating from college. Such generous acts of patronage should be recognised and applauded.


On an awayday to London in 1984 I gave 30p to a busker and stayed with him for 15 years. A day job in a dating agency led to ‘Grope’, a co-written fringe production that somehow failed to make it into the West End. ‘A grotesque accident’ said one reviewer, but the BBC spotted it’s car crash potential and it ended up as a Video Diary instead. Two years working at Television Centre left me feeling grubby and abused, an exploitative experience made only slightly more bearable by the subsidised canteen. Unfortunately, the masterplan I’d hatched to fund my art through lucrative scriptwriting jobs led only to an industrial park in Middlesex where I worked as a storyliner on a Channel 5 soap – the screenwriting equivalent of flipping burgers.


In the early 90’s I made the models for ‘Oh Julie’, an animated short that won joint first prize at the World Animation Festival in Zagreb. The award was shared with Wallace and Gromit, but any showbiz illusions withered and died at the hand-over ceremony at Finsbury Park tube station. But all the while I carried on with the miniscule stitching – each piece, built up layer upon layer, taking many weeks and months to complete – causing blinding migraines, a Dowager’s Hump and an advanced case of misanthropia in the process.


During the nineties I was becoming disillusioned with the enormity of the effort versus fuck all reward ratio that was threatening to do, if not for my sanity, then certainly for my sunny disposition. I continued working, though all but stopped exhibiting, sometime around this time, my only show in the 1990′s being the ‘New Centurions’ exhibition at Centre Point in London. The show’s concept was that established artists would each select a talent to promote, and beat poet, performance artist and mischief maker Jeff Nuttall chose me. It was a big thrill, though lack of opportunity combined with domestic upheaval meant I didn’t exhibit again until well into the noughties.


Throughout this time I was kept afloat by a series of crappy jobs and the encouragement and patronage of THE WHO’s John Entwistle. He might have been my only fan but I reckoned if my only fan was the coolest dude in the coolest band on the planet, then I must be doing something right.


I met my now husband going off his rocker in a sweet shop. Unsociable with a sweet tooth. My kind of guy. We disappeared up a track above the tree line, in love with the desolate beauty of the moors, providing as it did the perfect location to escape all the gobshites that had somehow crept under our radars over the years.


In 2001 my isolation was interrupted by a request from the artist Harland Miller to make a piece of work for an Edgar Allen Poe themed group show he was curating at the ICA. I did the work but the exhibition didn’t happen, which is usually where the story ends, but this time my cynicism was unfounded and the show ‘You DIg The Tunnel And I’ll Hide The Soil’ finally took place at the White Cube Gallery, London, in 2008.


There were numerous distractions away from art in the noughties, including a lunatic four years working with the Happy Mondays during the making of their ‘Uncle Dysfunktional’ album. Having survived that experience relatively unscathed, in 2011/2012 I staged ‘HE CALLS HIMSELF MARGARET’ a solo exhibition of new works at the Outside World Gallery in London and the Artsmill, West Yorkshire. I followed this by gatecrashing ‘The Unexpected Guest’ themed 2012 Liverpool Biennial with my show ‘The Uninvited Guests’. More recently I’ve been working on filming a DVD and producing merchandising designs for the poet John Cooper Clarke, and have just launched a range of upholstered chairs under the brand ‘Girl From The North Country’. But all these are sidelines because day to day I continue to work in this insanely time consuming way – still refusing to be rushed, producing defiantly unmanly artwork in a persistently macho artworld, working alone and unrepresented, attached to no particular movement or scene and heroically out of step with the zeitgeist.


August 2014