In 2020 I’m looking forward to participating in Bath Writers and Artists Group on two levels: Art and Music. I was a late starter in both, as the following stories will tell:
At school, I was considered to be hopeless at art! I was born and raised in east London and went to a girls’ grammar school where the art teacher was of the trendy opinion that “the art is in the child” and shouldn’t be imposed by an adult. We were given paints, paper, and a subject, and left to get on with it, with no formal teaching. I found this very frustrating, as in my mind I knew what I wanted to draw or paint, but didn’t have the technical competence to achieve it. My marks were consistently C+ and B– , and when was 14 and choosing subjects for ‘O’ Levels , Art was the first subject to be dropped.
25 years later after a university degree and career in Marketing, I was living in a village in Hertfordshire. A local college was offering evening classes, and I signed up for one called A Taste of Art, aimed at absolute beginners. The tutor was truly inspirational. Not only did she show us how to use a huge variety of media, but she also introduced us to subjects such as colour theory and perspective, and how to draw lemons that didn’t look like rugby balls. I was thrilled! At last I was beginning to learn how to translate the ideas in my head on to paper or canvas.
Since then I have participated in many courses and workshops, learning from a wide spectrum of different artists, gradually developing my own style and voice.
I’m currently working on a series of collage paintings, using a variety of media to produce paintings and drawings in a wide range of colours and textures. They can be anything: landscapes, still life, abstracts….then I tear them up (yes, really!) and reconstruct them into something else. My favourite subjects are from the natural world – fossils, insects, plants and animals – although if anyone has an idea for an alternative subject, I’ll certainly give it a go. Unlike many collage artists, I don’t use printed snippets from newspapers and magazines – the painted fragments are all my own. Once the design is in place, I embellish it with metallic inks, glitter, and gems, resulting in artworks that are bright, vibrant, and fun.
I began playing the guitar and writing songs at the advanced age of 52, but have more than compensated for the late start! Raunchy, romantic, poignant, humorous, my subjects range from shipwrecks to stalkers; from the perils of punting to that awkward situation where you discover your lover’s name sewn into the back of his underpants…..
Inspiration can come from anywhere: a newspaper headline; a snippet of conversation overheard; an incident from my family history. My songs are generally light-hearted, but most have a serious point to make.
I have recorded two albums: Petrol Station Flowers in 2013, produced by Richard Digance, and Lifting the Lid in 2017, produced by Boo Hewerdine and featuring the superb musicianship of Neill MacColl.
Most of my live performances are musical talks which feature my songs and the stories behind them – bookings primarily come from social groups such as Women’s Institutes, Probus Clubs and U3A. The two most popular talks are Late-Flowering Lyricist, which tells the story of how I overcame a life-threatening illness to reinvent myself as a singer/songwriter, and Lifting the Lid, about the perils of researching family history.
This song, Someone’s Shot of Whisky, was inspired by a slogan scrawled on a camper van at Wilderness festival:
You can discover more on my website: http://www.mirandapender.com