Catriona Stamp

Born 1950

I have been passionate about creating beauty all my life. Since becoming a book-maker in 2000, I have done several book-making courses through Book North with Hilary Henning and Peter R. Jones, and attended many print-making demos given by UCLAN print technicians who manage Artlab, a practicing printmakers' group for Lancashire artists. 

I completed an MA in Fine Art (Site and Archive) at UCLan, Preston in September 2010.

I escaped from a 'safe' career with a pension, to a commune (Laurieston Hall) in 1974, where my real education began. Though it has to be said that I chose Laurieston on the basis of its feminist politics, having found out how women were treated in the masculine stronghold of town planning.

At Laurieston Hall, as well as all the other things communards have to do, such as growing food, running a conference centre, having meetings, deschooling children, I managed to find time for some art, and produced printed and screen-printed cards and posters.

Between 1979 and 1982 I tried to live in 2 communes at once, and to bring up my son, Finn, (who was born in 1980) in the Laurieston Hall baby group. It proved too hard in the long term to bring up a child between 2 communes and I joined People in Common in Burnley as a full time member in 1982, becoming a carpenter/joiner in Altham Workers Co-op.

Sometime in this period I went to evening classes at Burnley College and took art 'A' level, and created 'The Box Show' in our communal living room, as a spin-off from one of our class exercises of creating a scene in a cardboard box. PiC also organised 'Hootenanny Jamborees' - total participation entertainment, in order to counteract the couch potato culture, which gave me many a chance to show off and be silly.

When my back could no longer cope with building work, I qualified as a person centred counsellor (on a course which included a module on the use of creative arts in counselling) and set up my own private practice. Of course, I still found time for my art work as well, including exhibiting a collection of papier mache vases at Haworth Art Gallery in 1997.

In 1994 I went on a Welfare State International funerals course, and began painting coffins, which meant I could use both my art and my counselling skills, and put both at the service of people who were grieving. I have also worked on commission in other areas of art - banner-making, book making - and led workshops.

Since leaving community in 1998 and moving to Lancaster I have concentrated on my art. I am also still very much involved in trying to make the world a better place. I have been a Green councillor on Lancaster City Council (2003-2009), been a member of the Lancashire branch of NCBI - National Coalition Building Institute, and have organised the marking of Holocaust Memorial Day here in Lancaster since 2001. I have also been involved in Seed Savers who organised Apple Day and Potato Day, and in May 2005 I organised a photo competition of native trees to mark Biodiversity Day. I am now a member of Lancaster Co-housing, which has purchased 5 hectares of land by the River Lune at Halton to build about 30 eco-homes plus a shared common house.

Making artists books has been my main artistic activity. In May 2006 I received a grant from Arts Council England to make a book using collagraph prints and involving interviewing volunteer beach litter pickers. This has led to a lot of exhibitions of my work. In October 2006 I started an AA2A award at UCLAN print department. It was a seventh heaven experience to spend so much time concentrating on print, and I learned a lot.

During the course of my MA in Fine Art, (Site and Archive), at UCLan, I have become interested in using sound, and have found a way to integrate my political passions and my love of music with my interest in art.