Artists Interview – Mary Sleigh

It’s time for another revealing interview from TSG member  Mary Sleigh .  Alongside other members, Mary’s work  will feature in our new book and visitors will be able to see all members contributions at  the Insight exhibitions in due course.

We will publish further information about the new publication and exhibition dates so please watch this space.

Mary Sleigh

Are the themes/ideas for this project ongoing or are they new?
My ideas for  INSIGHTS are ongoing themes, developing and moving on from previous work. They also fit in with ideas already agreed for new work in an exhibition to be shown at The Rope Walk in Barton on Humber in September. It’s important to me that I try to keep a focus as there are always so many distractions and other exciting  avenues to explore which are tempting.  I am easily tempted and really don’t need any distractions! The discipline of pursuing an idea helps me to dig deeper and find ways of expressing my ideas in a fresh way.

It’s been enlightening writing about my practice for the forthcoming publication. In looking back, I realise that there is a recurring thread that runs through my work. It’s  about a sense of place and its stories. There is a different emphasis but in essence there is a common theme which reappears in recent past work; Cloth Stories, Peat Lands and  It starts with a Step. Everyone loves a story as I do. There’s  always a story where people have lived and worked and even when nature has taken over, people have left their mark. So, it’s that connection with places and people and unexpected discoveries that keep cropping up. Part of my connection to the land  comes from my fascination in foraging, gathering and sorting, often giving me starting points for my work. I remember as a small girl in the West Indies having all the time in the world to search for treasures precious to me but of no intrinsic value. So, there’s nothing new, as  I realise when looking back. Finding connections with places and people as a theme continues. It’s a thrilling moment when I stumble on  an unexpected  gem while exploring and immersing myself in a place.

What is your favourite part of the  creative process?
It’s rather like a rollercoaster with ups as well as downs. Ideas come  at unexpected times and certainly not when I’m trying hard to come up with an idea. It’s a wonderful moment when an idea pops into my head. It has probably been simmering in the background and something triggers it to come to the surface. Initially in my head, it is marvellous, exciting and achievable.

Then there’s the really difficult bit, the hard graft of developing the idea; at times desperation and then exhilaration and then a sense of direction and purpose – that’s a  great moment.

Surrounded by what seems like chaos and too many possibilities I enjoy the gradual process during sampling, experimenting and handling materials of resolving  a way of working and creating some sense of order. I love this part when once I get stuck in, one thing leads to another.  It’s really satisfying to find solutions to problems and ways that express my ideas as simply as possible.

I enjoy the actual making process and the completed work is often  quite different from the original idea in my head.

Mary’s workspace

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