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Approaching Art - launching a new project for women

Today as I prepare to launch my new project, I found myself as I often do thinking about my grandmothers, two strong women who stood on their own quiet and steady ground and who became the inspiration for my life and work. The topic of feminism is a big discussion at this time and as with anything which has been suppressed, in the act of rebalancing, we may find a position which is often also out of balance before the resting position finds itself. I find myself in so much appreciation for how my grandmothers lived their lives. They were women who surrendered into the power of themselves as women, as strong nurturers and community builders. They nurtured the ground where I grew and gave me the chance to grow in all the ways that I did, as they cultivated the roots of their families and communities with care. No one was left out and not one was isolated. I never saw them complain and when they looked into my face as a child all I could see was their acceptance and how they held that space for me to grow as a child, a woman and as an artist. Out of all the influences I received as a child, this true feminine strength was to be one of the most important. When I think about feminism now and hear the way that it is spoken about in the world by both men and women, of all ages and positions, I see a world divided and confused, unsure of where to step. I was raised in an environment where art was a living process, not just something to study and become but it was practised in the details of everyday life, it was in my blood and those women held that without any judgement or doubt.

It was on International Women's Day in 2020 that, in honour of my grandmothers, I launched my foundation, and with it, I See your Strength, a project dedicated to women. This project spoke about the power that is held within femininity and how that can be seen and exists across all the spectrum of what we might call success, within the mother, the refugee, the CEO, the young and the old. I was living in London at that time and within the first week I had interviewed a range of women from many backgrounds including a refugee from Somalia who had fled for her life, a young rapper working hard to be heard in a male dominated industry and others including Marine Tanguy, founder of MTArt Agency, now one of the most influential art agencies in the world. She is a pioneer of the art world, supporting not just art but the artists themselves, it was an inspiring meeting at her home in London where she was surrounded by the work of her artists, a true example of living art.

Marine Tanguy, I See your Strength 2020

I see your Strength started to shape quickly into what I felt would be a wonderful project, but it was 2020 and within a week the unfolding events of the world changed everything. Like everyone else at that time I was taken on a different path and pivoted to a project telling the story of the world events through the eyes of the photographers instead and Stories of Isolation was born. This project became what I felt was an important visual record of our changing times and a beautiful document of the resilience and strength of humanity. The topic of community again coming strongly through the message.

Rana Ozturk, Mersin, Turkey - for Stories of Isolation, 2020

So here we are in 2024 and on this day of the summer solstice I am proud to announce my new project, Approaching Art, as I return to a new creative exploration dedicated to women. This is a celebration of creative women, exploring what our art means to us and how we express this in the world. The project will put me together with some of the most celebrated and inspiring female artists in the world for a series of discussions and documents taken on celluliod as we talk about and express art - why we make it, what inspires us to do so and how that all feels and informs us within this ever changing world. This is the conversation that I want to have - a woman meeting a woman to talk about creation, that seems powerful to me. I am very excited about this and what the results may bring. As with all my projects there is an element of experimentation and I feel like I am returning to the reason why I created the foundation, for women and art. I believe our strength lies within our foundations at the root of our creative energy, as we surrender to who we truly are - creators of the world, beautiful and powerful.

Surrender, scultping in clay, GLP 2019



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