Meet Your Lecturers – Marcia Ley

My Dad used to work for Reeves, the art
manufacturers and I used to go and visit him on a Saturday after I’d been to a class or something. And I would wait in his office and there in his office, he had a picture on the wall by Jean-Baptiste Chardin which was Still-Life with Pipe and I
just really, really liked the painting. I really, really loved it and
eventually I liked it so much that he gave it to me and it sounds daft but I
think that painting was an inspiration to me that I might be able, you know, I would
like to emulate and be an artist. My driving force is that I also have a faith, so I’m a Christian and that drives everything that I do. It means that my
work has a positive outlook. I don’t want it to take away from people. I
want it to give to them, so that really is behind how I work and of course I’ve
got to give my old man a thumbs up, yeah… I’m very inspired by my husband too. I work at the University for three days a week and so for many years I’ve also been an artist in the community, working in participatory art surroundings which I
absolutely love. So you’re working with people who come from very, very different
sorts of backgrounds and maybe have struggles in life, they might have mental
ill-health. I worked for a few years at the art studio here in Sunderland. I
also worked for many years at the Northern Centre For Cancer Care, working with
patients and their carers and staff. I realised that there’s a whole sort of movement
called yarn bombing and people yarn bomb all sorts of things, they do chairs,
I’ve seen bicycles done in it, whole buildings. So, I was working at the NCCC and I thought, what a brilliant thing to do in quite a clinical setting, so we’ve got these columns around the courtyard. One of the things a participatory artist does in somewhere like a hospital setting is get people and get
people involved so I thought okay… so I bought some crochet hooks and
some wool and I basically went round to somebody who I thought might be a good punter and I said ‘Can you show me how to crochet please?’ And so once that conversation
had gone I started making squares and everybody else started making squares, and then people started coming
in with bags of squares that communities had made and it really kind of
snowballed, and then from there we stitched them together and we made some
jackets that we could then fasten around the pillows while we were working
in the hospital and they work a treat, they’re still there. I’m an absolute passionate cyclist.
I go off with friends and we go to various parts of
Scotland, we’re really unlikely a bunch of older women who, kind of, go cycling
for a bit, maybe no more than 50 miles a day, and then we’ll go into a
youth hostel and have a really good time. The art studio that I worked for, unfortunately, the funding went and when the funding went there was a small press
there. Now in truth I had been thinking for years and years that I would really
like to set up my own etching press and to do something to reach out to the community.
But that gave me the opportunity because there was a press there
that I could buy. So I set up a little press which I call the Garden
Press which I’ve just started and I’m going to make that as something where people
could come and have small bespoke classes so I’ll be doing
community work there as well.

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