Featured artist

Margaret Finch


I was born in 1952 in the new town of Hemel Hempstead to which my parents moved a few years earlier. Like many Londoners, they were seeking the home and lifestyle to bring up a family and start a career.

Although a loving household, my childhood was tough but I always enjoyed art. I would spend every spare minute of my time drawing anything and everything. I remember one year, my Aunt gifted me an expensive watercolour paint box at Christmas. I thought it was the best present I had ever received and it gave me my first opportunity to explore and learn.

In my younger years I studied Art and Craft at school up to 3rd year, today’s year 9. During this time I developed a love for the subject. However, my father forbade me from continuing to study art at O Level, today’s GCSE, deeming it 'not suitable for career purposes'. Consequently, I do not have an ‘O Level’ in Art. At ‘A’ Level I studied Mathematics, Economics and British Constitution.

My determination to fulfil my enjoyment of Art was not hindered or dampened. In my own time I continued to draw as much as possible. I worked hard in Economics to learn as much as I could in the shortest amount of time and I was encouraged to take my examination early. My view being that in the free time gained I could spend more time drawing and focus on my passion. My hard work in Economics paid off and I managed to sit my exams a year early. I remember well the day the Head of Sixth Form (known as ‘Creeping Jesus’ because he had a habit of stealthily creeping up on one and catching one doing something one shouldn’t be – namely me) informed me that because I had passed Economics and had free time on my time-table I was to find another ‘A Level’ subject in its place.

I saw this as an opportunity to join the art ‘A’ Level course. As my father had prevented me from studying art the first time, I did not tell him about the new arrangement. There is still a part of me that feels a little guilty. Effectively I was joining the art class a year late. I had a lot of work to do to catch-up and before I was able to join, I had to submit a series of drawings for assessment. I remember feeling overwhelmed thinking about the task ahead and how much work I needed to cover to catch up with the rest of the group but, my excitement, enthusiasm and determination took over as I grappled with the challenge.

I found myself immersed in drawing, painting, printmaking, learning art history, making sculptures and creating ceramics, to name but a few activities. I became totally besotted with the subject and at the end of each school day, one could always find me in the art studio working until the cleaners kicked me out. Eventually, they got used to me working late and resolved themselves by sweeping and mopping the floor around me! Also, I had my other subjects to work at. Nevertheless, at the end of the year, I did it! I passed my exams and in art and I had produced enough work to create a portfolio ready for interviews. Unfortunately, six weeks after joining the art group the art teacher had become ill and I never saw her again. A supply teacher was appointed only weeks before the examination commenced. Whilst I passed my exam I largely consider myself as self-taught at ‘A’ Level.

But what next was the big question. Inspired by my experience and enjoyment in art over the previous year, I wanted to teach it. My father was horrified although suitably impressed with my work. So we compromised – I studied Mathematics, Art and Design and Education at Eaton Hall, completing my Bachelor of Education (BEd) in 1974.

My employment in education covered three counties, Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire teaching Mathematics and Art and Design as my major subjects. In addition my training included divinity, music, outdoor pursuits and physical education. Later, moving with the times in education, I further trained to teach technology, resistant materials, ICT, electronics and dance. I enjoyed these as additional subjects but found myself being unfulfilled by them. With the desire to extend and improve as a teacher, I continued to study Art, Design, Art History and Education, achieving my second degree, a B.A. which I continued onto an M.A. under the guidance of Professor Emeritus, Brian Allison.

Alas, my artwork ground to a halt when I became a mother to my two children, Elenor and Breon. Bringing up my children as a single parent whilst maintaining my career as Head of Art at the Northampton School for Girls was challenging. I had little to no spare time or energy to socialise or indulge in my own interests.

When I look back, teaching (particularly at 6th form level, today’s years 12 and 13), was an enjoyable and privileged experience. I was working with young people, supporting and developing their creative ideas on a one-to-one basis helping them to achieve their goals and mould their futures. I was a part of their development as people and I was actively working to develop their thinking ability, problem solving, their practical skills, confidence building and growing personalities and so much more to enable them to achieve their ambitions. I enjoyed being their form tutor too. Often my students went on to study Art Foundation or University Courses. On reflection, I hope that I inspired the drive and determination I had at their stage in life. Also, it is a great joy when they contact me and indeed, some are friends today.

Retirement was a mixed blessing as it showed me how in those teaching and mothering years I had had too little time in which to respect myself. I was working constantly, exhausted, drained and with no head space for thinking or taking time out for myself. I had forgotten who ‘I’ was. Initially in my retirement and in my new routine, I realised I was not nearly as confident in manner as I once was in my role as a teacher and Head of Art leading a team. I was walking new ground and I came to realise how shy, restricted and reserved I had become outside my teaching role. It’s like living without an identity, someone with a lost personality or worse still, no personality. It was a complete shock to my system.

In this new freedom there is no more working into the early hours on school reports, working to meet deadlines or setting work schemes. No more marking, setting exams, marking homework or attending parents’ evenings. No more directing Department or staff meetings, after-school clubs or detentions. No offence to all those still teaching – you are doing a fantastic job, but after 40 years I really needed to move on. Now in retirement and after my initial self-doubt and not knowing how to use my time productively, I have learnt how glorious it is to be in my own world, doing my own thing. I now have time for me, to find myself again and rekindle my passion in my creativity.

I joined the Moulton Art Group in 2015 just before retirement. I heard about the group whilst on a coach trip in Scotland when I first met Jill and Di from the Carey art group and John Black who I already knew. Joining the group was the best thing I have done. It felt as though it took me some time to ‘find myself’ and my style of work. I suppose that stepping out of the classroom to produce my own work that wasn’t scripted to a lesson plan was quite difficult after four decades in the job. I felt my skills had waned and the confidence I needed was at an all-time low. The pressure was on to produce something of my own that I considered acceptable. But thanks to the encouragement and friendliness of the art group and with John's support I began to grow again.

In 2016 I won ‘Best Mixed Media’ with ‘Woodland Opening’. In 2017 I was awarded ‘Best in Show’ for ‘Seaside Groynes’. In 2018 I earned the ‘Founders Award’ and in 2019 I won the ‘Best in Show’ with my painting of an ‘Old Door’. To add to my delight, it then sold! This has all been well beyond my dreams and expectations! The struggle and hard work has all been worth it. I’m delighted.

As time has passed my confidence is improving and my artwork is becoming ever more important as a way of expression, experimentation and enjoyment. In every group meeting, I learn from my peers and friends who are most encouraging. I am so lucky having met such a lovely group of like-minded people with whom I feel comfortable and at home. Being able to focus on my art, after all these years has enabled me to develop through the challenges and new discoveries I have made. There was a time where I had felt that the artist within me had vacated or been on a very long holiday, and this was a significant challenge for me, but with companionship I have managed to overcome my difficulties. Whilst I still loathe the ‘Blank Canvas’ syndrome that one must overcome at the beginning of a new work, through kind encouragement from the group, John Black, friends and of course, my now adult children, I have a renewed confidence, ambition and determination to be the best that I can be.

Thank you everyone, this is my new beginning.

About my work

I am fascinated with textures and recording them with a trompe l’oeil illusion in a semi-sculptural, bas relief technique. My themes are varied, such as sea groins, reflections, openings as in old doors, windows, gates and so on and I enjoy rocky landscapes and dry brick walls that run through the countryside. My bas relief style is where my painting reaches out to a textured, semi-sculptural form and is in high relief. I use a host of materials to capture and explore my themes and images, from different glues, flours, kitchen cupboard findings, sawdust, decorating materials and found natural objects. As the weight of materials can be problematic, objects such as stones are often hand sculpted from lighter materials and glued to the board such as my ‘Under Foot’ paintings. (It makes me smile when the viewer is not sure if the stones are real or not and it entices them to touch the paintings). Many of the materials I use lend themselves to manipulation, which aids my control over the effects I wish to create. Each work is preserved with an extra-hard, UV-resistant glaze for sealing and longevity purposes, and to add rigidity to the materials. My compositional arrangements underlie the overall images and add to the appeal of each piece. I like mixed media techniques to intrigue the viewer and to challenge the senses with regard to texture, light, shadow, perspective and the illusion of 3D-effects that lies within the boundary of reality to create my unique style.

I make my own frames from any suitable wood but I particularly like to make them from rough, weathered old reclaimed wood. Because the wood is left in its natural rough form with its own markings, it too is unique and, in my opinion, enhances the ambience of the work.













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