My Practice

My Story So Far

I first visited “Denbigh Mental Health Hospital” during my fine art and Theatre Studies degree. We were tasked with making a film on aggression and mental health. After the hospital had closed I visited again, walked the empty corridors and wards taking photos and staged a filmed performance in one of the isolation rooms.

This began a fascination with people, politics and mind which has stayed with me throughout my artistic practice. Alongside my studio practice I worked in education with excluded school children and homeless young people. I returned to University to study for an MA and created work about the community space in a local hostel, how it was used and managed. The residents would move the furniture to be more social and the cleaner would move it to be more practical. I would photograph it as it moved about and sometimes move it into curious arrangements which made sense to nobody. My life with my son, which limited my work to the domestic, also influenced my practice. I created small dresses which I would carry to the places we visited, photographing and I logging my domestic spaces with plumb lines. I placed plumb lines in public spaces to cause slight bemusement or changes in behaviour. I also became interested in the early days of social media, topic based chat rooms which were forming their own norms and etiquette.  I observed the norms of these internet rooms and sometimes set about breaking the unwritten rules. In those days it didn’t take very much for another member to eject you, going off topic could be enough.   I enjoy using the limitations and material within my life as a starting point for creativity, using mischief to stretch and challenge the limits. If I believe that a personal observation will have a wider interest to others in society a project will gain life and momentum.  The medium and form the work takes will often be dependent on the subject and the co-creators who get involved.

After working at the hostel I accidentally got a job at Groundwork teaching “Sustainable Development”. I had to look the term up before the interview and as I started the job I would say that I was much more interested in people than environment. I came to see that as an error. Humanity is restricted to this earth, if the environment fails to thrive so do people. It wasn’t easy to begin to care for environment. As I traveled to work learning about all this environmental theory I would look out of the train window and wonder what my son might see when he grew up. What was this world we were passing on? Sustainable Development is a phrase I’ve come to reject. It smacks of business as usual, “how can we keep doing everything we do today but with no impact on future generations?” is its core question.
When I was planning this web page I wrote a list of current and past projects. It became clear that the current ones could be divided into those with more focus on people and those whose backbone was environmental. Whilst this distinction is blurry I think it reflects my journey to see environment and human rights/suffering as equally important. You might note from the dates on the projects that my focus on a given project tends to be long. Whilst I have put end dates for some I’m never truly convinced that they are over and new circumstances and partnerships often breath new life into them. I was watching a series of films I made as commissioned works called “Letters From The Future”. Ending almost 10 years ago the series looked at young people’s expectations for climate change.  I’d love to have been a crack pot banging this pessimistic drum but watching the films today brought a tear. It feels like we set the films date for change too far in the future, giving ourselves an optimistic 100 years but some of the things we foretold are true already.

What does an artist do when everything seems in flux? Do we drop art and take up activism? Do we salve people’s pain with nice art? I’ve spent many an hour musing on such questions and I’ve tried both. I think both strategies are equally valid but I anticipate a third option is coming to the fore again for me. To acknowledge that as an artist I’ve built up unique skills. The skill to show what is stuck in our heads, to place a highlight on the overlooked, to illicit debate and action in a safer space. Most of all to be part of navigating kindly through a future which I can’t help thinking might be tougher than our recent past. All of this has led me to the ethos which informs my work today. 

My Ethos

Two ears one mouth: To listen twice as much as I talk so that  I can understand what each person or group can bring to a project.

To allow my past learning to help without it clouding my ability to innovate for specific communities and projects.

To utilise all the wonderful parts of creativity to tell stories, create practical solutions and model a better world.

To reuse materials as a first option and to use energy wisely. 

5 Key Facts

1 I have a 1:1 degree in Fine Art and Theatre Studies with a focus on mental health.

2 I have an MA In Fine Art with a focus on socially engaged practice.

I have been a practicing artist for twenty six years alongside work as a senior education officer for Arena housing and Groundwork.

4 I’m set up as a centre to run Arts Award for people aged 11-25 but also work with adults and younger children.

5 A podiatrist told me I have the feet of an unevolved simian but the body of a human.


Find out what others think of working with Beth.

“Beth worked with us over several years helping us develop socially engaged art projects which were born for the unique needs and skills of our Salford community. One of our biggest projects was “Project Shed” supported by Arts Council England. During Beth’s residency in our allotment shed  we discussed giving and reciprocation, developed art and created an exhibition. Beth works hard to understand how each person involved can contribute and add to the richness of each project”

Thomas Lever MBE

Partner Group Leader 

“I did Arts Award with Beth. We did it online with  few meet ups. This suited me as I felt comfortable working from home.  I started the award mainly using pen in colouring books. By the end of the course I had developed my own card range which I sold to raise money and I also led an art workshop with a local artist and camp site (the photo shows me considering the best place to paint from at the workshop).  Beth really understood what I needed and encouraged me to try lots of different art. She has many skills and is happy to pass them on. My Mum also did adult classes with her and found these really relaxing and inspiring. “


“I collect lots of art and interesting objects. Over the years I’ve purchased a few of Beth’s legacy products. We love the oil panting of our wooden cabinet which Beth created whilst painting the first three things she saw on facebook each day. The rules Beth puts in place mean that she creates things which would otherwise  be throw away images, making unusual works which capture a moment in time. I was also pleased to work with Beth during my time as a university lecturer. Here Beth presented one of her “Beautiful Things” boxes for the students to re-invent and also gave a lecture.” 

Hazel Jones

Legacy Product Collector

Shopping Cart