Introduction

I was born in Punk’s Year Zero, weaned while my dad morris danced in a folk revival that had to look back as the slogan No Future took hold. The same year the Tate’s “pile of bricks” by Carl Andre exploded in the media and rises in racial tensions broke into violence at Notting Hill Carnival. My year zero is remembered as culture’s struggle with nostalgia and desperation for authenticity, a fresh start made impossible by its own nihilism.

Here, then, begins a fascination with representation and belonging in a country obsessed with (constantly reworked) history. My practice explores how current and future identities are shaped by ideas about the past and I frequently work with archives and collections to connect the public to mythologies about personal, local and national identity. Children are often central to this, as their perspectives on the past and future have great value.

I've also devised methods to connect people in prison with collections, first with HMP Askham Grange and Ripon Prison and Police Museum and most recently with the RHS and HMP Send. Expanding internationally, for the We Bear project I brought together participants in 25 prisons in the UK and US to make artworks inspired by collection paintings from the American Folk Art Museum and Compton Verney.

Reversing the rural to urban migration of my ancestors, I live in Warwickshire and volunteer as a parish councillor to actively support a new imagined idyll of a diverse and progressive England.