A high speed life story

From then to now (a high-speed life story)
I grew up in the Kent countryside – number four out of six sisters. We cooked stinging nettle soup over smoky fires, broke bones doing bare backed riding stunts and learnt to drive in an old blue Skoda round the fields.

I went from school to art college, but when I got there I felt disappointed at how disconnected it felt from everyday life. One day I skipped college and went to the Outsiders exhibition in London. Even writing this so many years later, I have the same thrill of excitement that I felt seeing that wild work. I knew college was not the place for me and so I moved to London and joined the fun happening at Oval House – a buzzing community arts centre. I started doing workshops and performances there and never looked back.
Along the way, I have done many different things and worked with hundreds of great people. I’ve taught performance at the original Bristol circus school, and directed theatre, cabaret and circus shows in big tops on windy hillsides. I’ve toured street theatre shows to European festivals, and performed as a circus strongwoman, an ant, an assassin, a Thatcherite MP and the Pope.
Being-a-Tory-Bastard The-Pilgrimage
I’ve played accordion on a solidarity circus tour of Nicaraguan schools, hospitals, and with the Sandinista army, with a little experimental van repair thrown in.
Mending the van in Nicaragua
I’ve made paintings, drawings, artists’ books, maps and animated films which often revolve around ideas of connection and belonging. I’ve had solo shows and been part of group exhibitions. I’ve done national tours with a little shed full of my artists books, and an animated film in a cinema run by wolves.
Luci Gorell Barnes Little Lupin
I’ve been back to college to do an MA in Fine Art in Context at UWE and a PgDip in Research and Professional Studies in Education the University of Bristol. I’ve mentored young artists, done visiting lecturing and presented my work at conferences. I’ve worked with academic researchers – co-producing and illustrating a book about drought, and linking them with communities by using creative methods to gather local knowledge and ideas.
Book illustration
I’ve made art alongside lots of different people including women prisoners, Gypsies and Travelers, children, refugees and asylum seekers. I’ve been Artist in Residence at Speedwell Nursery School and East Bristol Children’s Centres since 2004, working on projects with families there using creative practice and our allotment project to bring people together.
Artist in Residence at Speedwell Nursery School and Children's Centre
I’ve been inspired by Paulo Freire who writes that ‘The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love’ and motivated by the power that creative practice has to connect, enable and inspire us all.