Personal Practice

Reading Alan Bennett – a fellow sensitive observer of the human condition

“That was a very clever and bold move you made there”

“What was?”

“Leaving the cannon of working class writers and academics out of your bibliography…”

“Leaving the what?”

My examiners looked at me in disbelief, and then they look at each other with wide eyes and then curiously back to me again

“You mean to say the only books you have read are the ones you’ve listed in your bibliography?”

“Of course I did – you’re not allowed to leave books out are you? Isn’t that against the rules?” I asked – quite unaware of what it was they were alluding to.

The examiner from Bradford takes a piece of paper and starts writing slowly. He folds it over, hands it to me and tells me I’ve got plenty of reading to do.

“Your contemporaries” he says with a smile as I take the piece of paper.

Shamefully I now admit – I’m only just getting around to really reading from that list – some 5 years later. Life did that thing where it got in the way. I made excuses – put other things first, stopped myself from following my true passions, from being who I was born to be.

But I was always immensely proud of that masters thesis and I’ve put a snippet of it here for anyone who wants a listen – it’s called The I AM story – and the rest of the thesis will be uploaded once I move house and find my hard drive. It was very well recieved, I had several pieces of it published and I even presented parts of it at a conference for social change in Vienna!

My own work had ALWAYS been about the human condition – I just didn’t quite know what exactly it was that that mean even though I was told often that this is what I do – and what I do incredibly well.

But recently I found that list, I’m currently reading Alan Bennett and I’m head over heels in love. I’ve found my ouvre, I’ve found my place in the world – in the book I am reading Alan Bennett calls himself a “sensitive observer of the human condition” – I finally understand who it is that I am and what it is that I do.

Thank the universe for mine and others ability to read, for mine and others ability to write AND for mine and others abilities to understand our place in and the world that lives all around us.


Personal Practice

Body casting blasts from the past…

In 2008 I finished my fine art degree. That year I cast 6 female bodies – one of which was my own.

“Hold your body in the way you feel the best and the way you feel the worst” – the two sides of the body cast on separate occasions and then a new body formed out of a blend of the two.

The piece was called An Intimate Distance – a nod to Rosemary Betterton’s seminal text.

It was displayed at leeds university, leeds library and then the Saltaire arts trail. Then it went into storage followed a few years later by my own practice.

Seems fitting then that on the 10 year anniversary I will not only resume my own practice but also recreate the piece – asking the same women to be cast but this time hoping the postures will be different.

I myself no longer have the body, mind or soul hang ups I had 10 years ago – and coming face to face with my own plaster casted body today while having a meeting at The Artworks in Halifax (where I studied for my masters and where a couple of my casts have lived for the past several years) I smiled to myself. The body next to my cast is now probably bigger, more droopy, definitely aged further – but MAN am I happier inside it now!!!

The return to An Intimate Distance and the original will be exhibited side by side it is hoped some time next year and it was lovely to meet myself once again and to be able to really see the transformations that have occurred within myself over the past 10 years.

Art education

Children get stressed out too – Mindful Art Making – might just make it better.

When I was 10 years old – My grandfather – a VERY talented Artist and Signwriter died. His death affected me a great deal and the impact it had upon me was discussed at length in my Master of Arts thesis (An auto ethnographic narrative inquiry into my lifetime engagement with Art Education and the effect and impact it had upon my life).

At 10 years old, the stress of losing my grandfather, of facing my own and the mortality of others for the very first time made me seriously contemplate suicide. At ten years old – I actually had thoughts about ending my life. Now – obviously I am not the only person on the planet for whom an event such as this has occurred and I do not hesitate for a MOMENT to say that obviously there are people out there who have had far greater ordeals and losses to deal with at an even younger age – but that said – the stress of losing someone so close to me, someone who I had seen every day of my life, who used to draw horses and unicorns on demand, who used to bring us all peppermint cream bars home from his trips down Scotty Road every Sunday and who inspired me to become an artist – well – it had a big impact upon me to say the least and the impact was not a particularly good one.

However, being someone who always looks for the silver lining in the cloud – being an adult who had that experience as a child – means – that I can empathise somewhat with the struggles and strains that some children have to deal with – alongside being students at school. And having had that experience – probably also led me to become interested in the things I am interested in – I don’t doubt for a second the reason I’m an artist is because of losing my grandfather and wanting to emulate him in some way… perhaps now my teaching of yoga, meditation and mindfulness is also linked to having had that experience as a child. Because what if my experience was different? What if I had learned about all of these things before that event had occurred? Would I have been more resilient? Would my neural pathways have been stronger – would I have been better able to cope with the grief, the loss and the stress?


Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation and Mindfulness practices – when eating, interacting with students, making my art work, living my life –  are practices that have helped GREATLY to make my life far more amazing – WHEN they are practiced REGULARLY. The impact these things have on – my ability to manage stress, my mental/physical and spiritual health and on my general every day outlook on life is immense and I only WISH I’d had the opportunity to learn about these things at an earlier age. I’m almost certain that had these practices been a part of my life before the age of 10 – would I have been able to have coped with life and its sometimes macabre realities in a better way?

So, after completing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course this summer in India – I have decided to ‘Revamp’ my offer to schools.

Mindful Art Making is here! 

For I am bringing a bit of my newly found Zen into the classroom and I’m about to go and complete the Kidding Around Yoga Course – teaching Yoga to children! WOOHOO

No longer will we ‘just’ make Art –  we will now also do some movement, some meditation and then we will MAKE OUR ART MINDFULLY and we will ALL learn some new and beautiful coping mechanisms to make us stronger as we battle through this thing we call life!

Get ready 2018 – Jennyanne Arts is back and she is bringing Zennyanne Creates with her!

As I currently train artists to work with children and families – why not get me to train your teachers to teach MINDFUL MAKING and Yoga too! OOOOOh now THERE is an idea! 😉 


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David Sharkey – Liverpools Three Graces – Oil on Board – probably done in the 1940’s… I’m not entirely sure! :S      07793020000



Creativity is making mitsakes – Art is knowing which ones to keep!

“If you don’t have a go you’ll never know” – wisdom from Terence.

Several weeks ago I went to the Grove Inn to see some live music and serendipity allowed me to meet a fabulous white bearded man named Terence. After we introduced ourselves I told him that Terence was a noble name indeed for it was the name of the first freed black slave who was a prince – or so my dad always tells me – as he too is named as Terence.

And we talked. He told me of his life and his careers, how serendipity brought him across the moors all those years ago when he had a car crash and subsequently fell in love and I told him of mine.

NO NATURAL “ARTISTIC” talent I’d said, struggle I did in the beginning – but that was why I knew was actually a pretty great teacher I explained.

Because I’ve been able to tell people that practice really does make perfect. That it is more than OK to make mistakes, it’s how we learn, and art is FUN even if the outcome doesn’t look amazing you know!

The PROCESS itself is worth while!

Then he said – “if you don’t have a go you’ll never know”

“EXACTLY” I exclaimed – many people are so scared to make a mistake they don’t try and they miss out on so much joy and fun!

And I realised – thats all I am doing in my life! I’m being bold and I’m having a go…

And sometimes I screw up REALLY BADLY but sometimes I don’t – either way however – I learn. And I keep going and generally – I enjoy myself!

It’s a long road is life – and my talent is all about telling people they are allowed and SHOULD have a go and not care too much about their mistakes, that they should forgive themselves and move onwards.

JUST LIKE I DO – FOR I am human – I am not perfect and I don’t need to be. I just need to keep having a go. Because it’s OK to be human… It’s OK to keep making mistakes and it’s OK to be sad… It’s OK to chase your dreams and it’s OK to lose them sometimes… It’s life. Life’s tough.

It’s OK to follow your heart and it’s OK to ignore your head sometimes. And if that leads you to a brick wall – then that leads you to a brick wall.

But you just got to pick yourself up every morning and try your best to be concious. Try your best not to mess it all up. Try your best not to make mistakes. Find they joy and the beauty as best you can and keep on trucking.

We are human and to be human is to err.

We don’t make mistakes on purpose. We don’t hurt people on purpose. We’re all just trying to do our best.

I’m all about shouting from the rooftops it is OK to be crap sometimes – in pointing out that it’s the MAKING that is important – that should be the fun part! And if what you make is a piece of rubbish – stick it in the bin and forget about it… But I guarantee you will learn.. And eventually – man you will make something beautiful I swear it!

Terence asked me what brought me over from Liverpool and I told him that it was Art. He was a BEAUTIFUL interesting RADIENT human being and I was thrilled to meet him. I learned about so many things and people that I want to look further into – we discussed serendipity, politics, music, influential writers and poets, careers, our parents… It was a fabulous chat and at the end of it he told me that there are not many people like me around… And I took that as a great compliment – though I’m not 100% certain what he meant! Hahaha. But I enjoyed listening to him and I realised perhaps that’s another talent of mine – HEARING people, connecting with people and genuinely ENJOYING people and admiring them EXACTLY as they are. Sharing our stories… Learning together and having the courage to be authentic in a sometimes Inauthentic world.

Personal Practice

How I became an artistic auto ethnographer

Autoethnography – research through the self.

Visual Autoethnography – Art based research through the lens of the self.

For any of you who don’t know – my personal practice is an exploration of my human condition – always has been – but in 2010 when doing my masters I discovered the correct term for what I’d been doing for many years – that term was autoethnography and oh how I fell in love!

When at college I had a glorious tutor (he has featured in my work many times) and he told me that ‘Art is Philosophy with stuff’ and I never ever forgot that – it resonated deeply.

When I was 17 – 18 years old. I, like many others at that tender age had no idea what I wanted to do with my life – but I knew I had to go to University. My mother joked with me but I knew she was deadly serious. University had given her a notion of much-needed independence – much the same as learning to drive and she had instilled into me a definite desperation for independence as I grew up through my life. So when I’d said I was going to ‘just get a job in Kwik Save’ instead of going to university and she had told me in no unquestionable terms that unless I went to university I’d be kicked out of the house – I figured although I wasn’t ready and didn’t know what to do – clearly a full-time job in a supermarket was NOT going to be accepted. So – upon completion of my A levels I promptly enrolled on a free Art Foundation course at Liverpool Community College – and I got EMA payments for an extra year too! Bonus I thought – I can mess about with art for a bit until I figure out what I REALLY want to do…

Yet, once I got there – my life was changed forever. I met Issues Led Art, I felt the power and magnitude of what an art practice can do for a person and I created my first artwork entitled ‘Effigy’. It was an UGLY little thing, but did I LOVE that piece of work for it held my entire life up to the age of 18. At 18 I was for certain reasons filled with self loathing and I desperately wanted to be reborn – through this piece of work, thankfully I was.

It’s skin was made out of patches of the jeans I had worn stitched together with the fake hair I had worn in my own hair when I had it in braids. Any sellotape used had been first stuck onto my own skin – picking up my cells and putting them within. It had my baby teeth – my piercing jewellery was removed and placed into its face and its innards were made from letters, mementos, ‘precious things’ I had saved over the years and its brain was automatic writing I had created about the project, about myself, what I was dealing with and about my life.

I felt a great release with the making of Effigy and I was reborn – I was reborn into an artist – an artist who could finally admit that they questioned the reasons for our existence, an artist who could admit that they struggled sometimes with life, with being a human, an artist who had started to become self-aware and realised that things, their way of thinking, of interacting with the world was starting to change.

When I find a picture of it – I’ll post it here – my hard drive is in storage at the moment due to my imminent house move! YAY!