Business Boom Bolton speaks to: Tracie Shaylor
Hi Tracie, it’s a real pleasure to kick off our interview series with you as our first interviewee. Can you firstly give our readers a quick introduction as to who you are and how you fit into the world of design and art.
Hi, my name is Tracie Shaylor, now in my mid forties and mother of two. Since primary school, I was passionate about all kinds of art form and from such a young age, I had already decided then that I wanted to be a professional artist. After leaving secondary school, Woodhey High, I perused my second love in life that was horses and moved to Kent to train as an AI (horse riding instructress). However, the pay was poor and the hours were long, so I returned to Ramsbottom, bought my own horse and became a welder in a local factory. A few years later, the humdrum of factory life was really getting me down. I had bought a house in Farnworth just before the big boom when all the house prices sharply increased. I took the opportunity and sold, doubling my money which made it possible to quit my job, and so I returned to education at the age of 21 in order to continue my initial dream of being a professional artist.
I am now a mixed media artist and use a variety of methods and materials to depict my concepts. However more of late; my practice has been major installations, using a diversity of sculptural materials on a large-scale. My focus has been on my experiences as a female artist working against the traditional male perspectives of art subject matter. My main areas of involvement are ‘Feminism and Sexuality’. These concerns with historical research and insight have enabled me to depict equality and oppression. My latest project, ‘Evolution and Atrophy’ serves to highlight ‘gender role reversal’. In august 2011,this installation gained me the overall category winner of Fine Arts section at the New Schoolhouse gallery, York in the 53 degrees north exhibition and second runner-up for the whole show.
What are your roots in terms of education? We know you had some affiliation with Bolton University.
I began my BA Fine Arts course in 2006 and studied on a part-time basis. This year, I graduated from the University of Bolton with BA Fine Arts first class honours. In May 2011, with other selected candidates from other northwest universities, I was interviewed at the Whitworth art gallery. To my delight and surprise, I won the NADFAS (The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies) Northwest MA Bursary award for the best up-and-coming artist in the northwest. This is mentioned in a two-page review in the NADFAS Review Autumn 2011 magazine. The award has now made it possible for me to further my studio practice to a higher level by commencement of my MA Fine Art this year at the university of Bolton. Since graduating, I have gained confidence concerning my practice and have made several contacts within the art world. In addition, I have applied for several exhibitions, of which I am still waiting for the outcome. I will be applying for the Bolton Open exhibition at the gallery, which I was successful with last year and I hope to be part of the Bolton Arts Festival next year along with my peers.
What success did you encounter after graduating from the University?
I was mentioned in the BBC news website regarding my triumph over adversity. I originally began my education at what was then Bolton institute once I had the appropriate qualifications to be accepted in 1994. After the end of my first year my I had a full nervous breakdown, I was unwell previously but did not realize that it was not normal to hear voices and hallucinate. My final project “open the box” became Pandora’s box and tipped me over the edge, which led to several admissions on a psychiatric ward over a few years. It has been a long journey but I now understand my illness. I am aware of certain triggers that can lead me to be unwell. I am also aware of any initial symptoms, to which I stop and take a step back. I also have a fantastic sister and partner who ground me when they see me taking off on the runway! Usually by taking the Mickey out of me lol! A good reminder not to take yourself or life too seriously.
You’ve been mentioned in the media as a really great success story for people who triumph over adversity. What advice could you offer to those people in similar kinds of situations?
The only advice I would give to anyone in a similar situation is accept and understand who you are and don’t be afraid to ask for help; follow your passions, your dreams and remember if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t, it was worth trying.
What would you say were your favourite high points (& low) in your studies at Bolton University?
Bolton University has been a wonderful experience. Meeting lecturers, peers and technicians has changed my outlook and understanding of contemporary art. It has been a great learning curve and the lecturers have given new insight and knowledge regarding my practice. I love the buzz of new challenges and the enthusiasm of like-minded people. I would say the last five years have been a very positive and rewarding experience, I would not say there really has been any low points. No longer would I consider painting pretty pictures like before because I love the intellectual side of contemporary art. Art that makes you think and question. Art, which causes controversy. My work was mentioned in the York press and I was quite pleased with the quote “Is that art?” that referred to my work.
What are your favorite points about Bolton as a whole and the local area? Did you find there was a good creative community to be a part of? Inside and out of the University?
As a whole, I think Bolton is a great place; I recently went to the food and drink festival. It is a great place to shop and there always seems to be something happening. The gallery and museum, which both my children have been to on many several occasions especially for the aquarium and Egyptology section, is a great source of free entertainment! The Octagon Theater that I have attended as a child, and also the town hall where my children have watched pantomimes. It’s the big reveal of Bolton one opening next year which will be a bonus. Moreover, as visual arts are concerned, Neoartists, former graduates of the university of Bolton provide excellent opportunities for artists with studio, workshops and exhibition spaces. Artist and owner, Tracy Fenton of, Art fantastic Healing provides therapeutic art workshops. Another Bolton university success story.
With the advent of social media and networking, Who would you recommend to our readers to follow from your social media circles?
I am a great fan of Facebook, but I have spent most of the summer surfing opportunities for artists. I think my best lead was http://www.artlicks.com/subscribe} but I have many more to choose from on my twitter page @Tracieshaylor (courtesy of Karen King, Fine Art student, Bolton). In addition, of course you cannot forget ‘news and events’ on the Bolton University website.
Where would we find you on Twitter and across the web?
My website www.tracieshaylor.co.uk which will be updated very soon.
Thanks Tracie, we wish you every success for the future!