The World of Eileen Wright
I love this artist in every way, she is the kindest person I know and she tends to see what I see, beyond the surface. Eileen has a huge amount of empathy and time for people, but her craft of Art and Writing are what drives her forwards. She always inspires me, because she never gives up, she strives and challenges herself every day. We are always the last to leave at every Inter-Arts Festival 'set up' for the exhibition and this is when I find out what's behind the eyes of this magnificent Lady.
I will always treasure my time with Eileen as she has taught me a lot, just being in her presence and through her Words and Art.' Fiona Love
What is your background as an artist?
I've been a Poet and Visual artist for many years after a career in Residential Social Work, working as a Cleaner, training as a Clown and various 'eminent' qualifications (from 25yards swimming Certificate to an MA in Social and Community Work! , oh yes and even BA Hons in Visual Art). Although I can't swim more than doggie paddle, I have always enjoyed developing creatively.
I was privileged to study Art at Todmorden College, where I progressed from Access Course to HND to BA Hons. A wonderful supportive community of artists, teachers, and friends. As a woman artist I was empowered by this environment of freedom.
What is your work about?
Much of my writing and artwork addresses issues of identity mostly centred around female experience.I believe that men and women are equal and worthy of equal respect and treatment in all areas of their lives. I believe there is a long way to go.
When did you first start producing your poetry and artwork?
I started writing poems as a child, and just carried on, it is a vital part of my life. None of my writing saw the light of day until about 30 yrs ago. As I'm pretty much well over twice that age now, I'm (worryingly?) unconcerned about what people think. Perhaps by a miracle of self invention I have been pursuing my passions for poetry by performing,and running writer's groups (currently Writing Space,which I've run for 12 yrs in Hebden Bridge). I guess for me, it's not money or fame that drives me, but perfecting the process, or at least aiming there, it's a carrot and donkey exercise... l can't neatly divide poetry from visual art. As a visual artist I often work in mixed media with text and image, interested in both expressionism and surrealism. A member of Brooklyn Studios in Hebden Bridge, I've exhibited in local galleries and other venues for 25yrs. Including joint exhibitions with women artists (eg Bodies and Bodices with Roz Goodwin) and solo shows ( eg Artemis). It's also been wonderful to get 2 Arts Council Grants, funding both book production, and Art Exhibition /workshops.
Do you see art as a language?
Yes, art (visual and poetic) has its own language. I have my own codes and techniques for both. Sometimes particularly with visual art this language/story cannot be adequately expressed through the spoken word. Visual art is physical, textural, but as with every art it requires skill and concentration in order to 'tell' the creative narrative. How can we help other women ? What support do we need to have more of a voice in society?
Art is Work. Women's Art is Work: all the harder because, despite feminism, cultural imperatives are embedded in patriarchal structures. It's a slow process, this pushing forward, each small step challenging, but one must beware of conforming to stereotypes of 'What Women Want'. We are all different, both as artists and as women. I believe, though, if we recognize and celebrate both our differences and similarities, we can work together for the sake of all women.
Who inspires you?
I admire Frida Kahlo the Mexican artist who developed a personal iconography with herself at the centre of her own work. This was groundbreaking in my view. She died the year I was born, which in my mind, links us in history.
What have you been working on in lockdown?
In lockdown l've played with paint and words and also made miniature (very private) art gifts for my family (eg A Book of Days). I've continued hosting my writers group via my creakily archaic mobile phone., sending weekly prompts to 10 members (mostly women) Yet even working small can work well: if we all do it, then the positive effects shall join up. I dream of this for the future of women, and women artists - it will be a healthier world then. Here's hoping!
Eileen is working on work to go towards our on-going project 'Invisible Made Visible' coming to a space near you when we can.