My name is Phoebe-Jo and I'm the artist behind the walkway art.
Whilst it was stressful, I had amazing 1-1 support from my lecturers and the floor mural gave me industry level experience in commissioning. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the final result. My family came to visit me the same day it was installed, and I'll never forget the rush of joy I felt seeing it come to life alongside my family who are the reason I am an artist today and the motivation behind my art career.
One of the key themes throughout the work was bringing to life the cultural diversity and harmonious collaboration amongst the UEL community. I've scattered a myriad of symbols such as cameras and paintbrushes to represent the different courses working together. I stitched together different cultural textile patterns and transformed them into their own style. As you continue to walk across the mural, you will see the UEL phoenix subtly blended into the other design elements. The colours reflect the colours that were popular during the 1990s when the campus was built.
My love for art stemmed from my mum who always encouraged my sister and I to create art and paint. This passion for art continued throughout my school years and eventually I had to decide whether to pursue sociology or to follow my dreams and pursue a career in textile art. My mum advised me not to pick the safe option and to trust my gut instinct. She said there's few people within my trade and they need talented individuals like me. I am so happy I listened to her advice.
I was raised by my mum in Colchester, Essex in a small council estate of which I have fond memories. My grandparents lived up the road and we were always surrounded by family. School was never easy for me, and art became a therapy outlet where I could escape from my troubles and worries and express myself freely.
One of my favourite projects was the Disco Collection. I read about the amount of jewellery waste that exists and its environmental impact and so I wanted this collection to be made completely out of up-cycled jewellery. I researched the 70s era and I found that jewellery was worn by those in marginalised groups to express themselves and be free. I loved that something so small could have such a big impact on how people express themselves. I created big statement heavily beaded jewellery pieces to convey this idea of freedom and as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to continue the work our predecessors fought for.
For me, a successful piece of artwork is one that sparks conversations and brings awareness to issues in society that need to be addressed. In the Consent Project, I wanted to bring to light the rise in abuse cases during lockdown and specifically highlight children and LGBTQ communities. Through sustainable materials and 3-D printing I created hands which were inspired from consent posters where hands represented the action of grabbing. I also used recycled wool to create netting to represent the feeling of being caged in. I embellished words which came from conversations with family and friends who have been through it. The choice of bright colours was designed to draw people in and realise that this is a deep issue which needs to be solved. I added links to relevant organisations for people to find assistance and know they're not alone.
If I could give a piece of advice to creatives, it would be to always persevere and never give up. Follow your passions and dreams and don't let the influence of other people affect your decisions. You need to stick to your gut feeling and stay true to yourself. They'll be days of creative block and that's okay. Take a break, make yourself a cup of tea, and come back with a fresh mindset.
To read more about Phoebe-Jo's artwork, please visit her website.