A Ramsgate mum-of-one who thought art could never be a realistic career choice is now holding her first solo exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate.
Simone Swaine graduated from the University of Creative Arts in Canterbury this summer and is showing her work at the Margate gallery until December 31.
The exhibition in the Foyer Corridor Gallery is part of the platform graduate award at Turner which supports new graduate talent and this year includes four artists graduating from Fine Art courses at UCA.
The 38-year-old says she has been artistic since childhood but thought it would always be just a hobby.
She said: “I’m from a working class family and university never felt like an option, particularly an art degree.
“I juggled low paid jobs with long hours and little joy but after being made redundant I decided enough was enough and wanted to prove to my daughter that no matter the cards your dealt it’s never too late to change direction and chase your dreams.”
Simone is the first member of her family to attend university and she made it work despite the challenges of covid, home schooling her daughter and studying for her degree.
She left university in July 2022 with a first class BA honours Fine Art degree. Simone also won three graduate awards, a Resort Studios residency, Crate Studio residency and the Turner Contemporary platform award.
In her work Simone uses fragments of found textiles and discarded objects.
She said: “My work is inspired by my Thanet coastal walks, where I observe nature and collect found materials and objects. I reimagine their narratives with a childlike curiosity ; a fisherman’s rag, a widow’s handkerchief, a refugee’s scarf; discarded and left to Mother Nature’s elements, degraded by the salty water, bitten by a fish, I feel like they all have a story they want to tell.
“Whilst I hope my exhibition explores this vibrant imaginative narrative in a playful manner, it is a tale of two halves, on closer inspection the beauty gives way to disgust and tells another narrative, one of today’s throwaway society and the devastation we leave behind.”
Simone now works as an art technician in a Thanet school and as a professional artist.
Turner Contemporary is open 10am to 5pm (last entry 3.30pm on Christmas Eve). It is closed December 25-27 and reopens on December 28.