I sit watching powerful waves pouring over craggy rocks in a wild winter wind, thinking about how to write about my life to now.
I feel my life is like the ocean, sometimes calm, then wild, then middling, an interesting life so far. Always full of change, children, living, loving and learning. My spirit soars with the ocean, its freedom, power and unending ebb and flow, like a pulse. It feels a part of me, then at other times I feel isolated from the natural world around me. I have to remember to walk the ocean shore, sit by the lake glittering in the sun, see the sea eagle land on its nest, touch the trees and bracken ferns, hear the birdsong. All so simple; a salve for my soul, and so easy to forget when busy and absorbed.
In a constant state of wonder and excitement at how incredible it is, I paint the beauty of our planet, and feel a deep sadness around the ecological problems and the extinction of so many species. My heart is with our earth and sometimes the only thing I know is to paint something of it, lest it disappears.
In 2005 I began to train in Gestalt psychotherapy. This form of therapy, taking into account mind, body and spirit, empowered me to release old negative conditioning to clear the way for more of the real me, to explore, and to be a little braver. Fun and fantasy began to emerge in my paintings. A tiger with wings - no, don't be silly, my critic self says. Why not have some fun and really allow myself to go where I haven't dared to go before.
Wingdom is born. Images of cats with wings, metamorphosis, connection, evolution, curiosity, and much more, have been transported onto canvas and paper with great glee and, at times, technical frustration. Wings, wings, wings - how mad, I thought, and how fabulously beautiful. A possible reality - wings for all.
I was born in Derby, England, in 1957, an Aquarian - very definitely. Surrounded by a land of green rolling hills, clear rivers with stepping stones and bridges, high and low dales, purple and yellow heather-covered moors shrouded in mist. Dark skeletal winter trees with a scarlet setting sun dropping behind them and the full silver moon on the opposite hill - a stunning scene saying goodbye and remember me.
I leave for a new land - Australia.
My parents are artistic and multi-skilled, sharing between them the talents for sculpting, silversmithing, ceramics, painting, antique collage and beading, and a great flair for renovating anything. My brother, Craig Fletcher, is a fine sculptor in ceramics, bronze and glass with work in collections worldwide. Inheriting some of our parents talents and skills is a great gift.
One of the first drawings I remember doing was my pet hamster in purple on a jade and green background, and I still love those colours. I feel colour is a source of sustenance and delight, both energising and soothing. They have a meditative effect on me when combined with artistic processes.
In the '70s I was accepted into illustration and fashion design at Bishop Lonsdale Art College. I remember being told i would have to leave if I kept refusing to draw a series of designs for real mink. I was outraged but eventually I gave into their pressure. After college I designed and produced original garments for select boutiques.
In 1988 I emigrated to Perth with my children. After great upheavals in my personal life I began to draw again, and to paint on silk. I was totally swept up by the vibrancy of silk and the brilliance of the dyes and I have continued to practise this ancient art for twenty years, also enjoying teaching the craft to hundreds of students. I began to use soft pastels, and I still love the versatility of this medium, the smooth velvety glow and rich textural effects. I also love painting in oils for their glowing colours and durability.
Most of the Wingdom series are in oils or pastel.
Why do I paint? I paint because I can create my world as I feel it and as I see it. Beauty, fun, colour, drama, peace; to paint these gives me a feeling of satisfaction that allows a window of space and light in my life. I paint because I can. I paint because I can create anything my heart desires, although I will always aspire to be a better painter.
My real artist journey began with a desire to paint on silk. I was familiar with failure, and nervous of the great tradition of paint and canvas. I gathered dyes and brushes and frames. I drew dolphins onto the silk with a gold resist and waited for it to dry. I chose my favourite colour for the ocean, dipped the brush into the dye pot and swept a curve of turquoise onto the silk. Wow! The dye spread. It had a life of its own and I was captured, mesmerised by its magic, delighted with the vibrant colours on sumptuous white silk. I used salt and water to make pattern textures, so amazed that I couldn't stop painting.
Around that time I bought a set of pastels and played with them but was drawn back to the silk. It was eight years before I decided I needed a change of medium, and I began to work with pastel in earnest. I fell in love all over again, this time with a very sculptural, exciting, dusty medium. I could sweep a colour over rough paper and have a texture - or not! I could rub with my fingertips to produce soft velvety effects. The colours available are astounding, and very varied in quality and softness. The softer, the easier to use.
The rest of my life and art? Give me time. Things are speeding up as the release of Wingdom, The Beginning approaches, and the launch of this long awaited website. Come back and take a look later, now that you've come this far.
Image by Zoë Fletcher 2014