Tag Archives: History

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

We went on a family outing to the Tate Modern in the summer of 2010.
I went there in the hope that my tastes had matured and I might at last be appreciative of conceptual art. Trouble was…
It was all concept and the ‘artisan’ had gone for a very long lunch.
Where was the skill? Where was artistry? “SHOW ME THE BEAUTY!!” I wanted to shout.
The best exhibits were the comments on postcards on the way out… Most of them written and drawn by art students.
'The Creative License' by Danny Gregory
My silent appeal for something aesthetically pleasing was answered by a book in the gift shop. “The Creative License” by Danny Gregory invited the reader to embark on a journey of artistic self discovery with a pen and sketchbook (pencil and eraser forbidden… Self censoring was to be ignored).
In observing and drawing everything in your everyday life, you would subconsciously be on the path to mastery of draftsmanship and, at worst, be improving your rudimentary skills every day.
Jessica Martin's Sketchbook
I needed no further encouragement. My discipline had commenced and the little girl who used to fill cheap notepads with visions of silver screen goddesses was now getting back into the Zen of Drawing with studies of household objects and observational studies on the school run.

“A Writer is a world trapped in a person” Victor Hugo.

All my life I have been a dreamer.

Fantasies have been the delicious elixir to wash down the bland reality of life.
To go into a trance was a certain way to make my twenty minute walk to school disappear in a flash.
I attended St Michael’s Convent Grammar School in North Finchley during the Seventies. It was a highly academic all girls school with a distinctive purple uniform. It was a sought after school and I was proud to go there but the focus on sciences and sport were somewhat dry for my artsy, dramatic soul. My best subjects were Art and English.

St Michael's Catholic Grammar School
On that long walk to school I would run an ongoing film set in a parallel world.
I imagined an alternate school called Saint Barbara’s, it had a red uniform and all the girls who went there had extraordinary skill-sets (what you would now term ‘superpowers’). There was Jane Borelli, who was a genius scientist… her father was a boffin based in Switzerland, Martina Addams was her best friend and writer of prodigious talent and the ‘star’ girl was a natural fifteen year old beauty called Ingrid Box who bore an uncanny resemblance to Liz Taylor. She was very bright and therefore was allowed time off from school to make films with big stars like Richard Gere (we were all in love with Richard Gere in those days). She was named Ingrid after Ingrid Bergman and Box after a woman film producer called Betty Box. I knew absolutely nothing about Betty Box apart from the fact that her name frequently came up in the credits for black and white British films that ran on television.
So my predilection for inventing feisty teenage girls who could conquer the world was formed at an early age. Fast forward to adulthood and a successful acting career backed up by a degree in English and Drama. The lectures in English Literature had served to quash any pretensions I might have to write a great novel. I wasn’t living in the time of Swift or Dickens, I didn’t inhabit the landscape of Hardy or survive the great events worthy of a Tolstoy. What had my little twentieth century feminine voice got to offer up in this cacophony of Titans? My fantasies were destined to remain shut in my head where they belonged.
I did occasionally let my creative children out to play. In between acting jobs I tried various forms of dramatic storytelling… I collaborated on a new musical set in the 1970’s pop industry called “Taste the Love”, I co-wrote a screenplay which got as far as pitching stage at Ealing Studios.
Hallie Flanagan
Even then I’d bailed out of writing the whole piece myself because I lacked confidence.
Eventually I did go the whole hog and wrote a one woman play about a little known theatre producer and social activist during Roosevelt‘s government called Hallie Flanagan.
Then one day something began to hatch. I wasn’t even aware of it.
My old art muse came back to visit me after an absence of nearly thirty years…