Isobel Eats Fish is the creative name for Vicky Partner. Based in Kent, Vicky is a photographer and poet who combines both talents to create a unique vision. Her project creates one photo and poem for every minute of a 24 hour day – making 1440 images and poems. Vicky spoke to us about her background, things that inspire her and why she started 1440.
I grew up in Stevenage, a new town with lots of cycle tracks that I used to do time trail circuits of as a teenager in the nineties. My dad was a coach driver and there are not many seaside places in this country I haven’t been to, plus the occasional day trip to France on the ferry. Music was our big thing, huge stereo’s and big music collections. The soundtrack to my childhood included the Stones, Pink Floyd, Status Quo, Led Zeppelin, you get the idea. I used to climb the tree in the back garden, but other than that it was a pretty humble and modest beginning though obviously I developed my own tastes as I grew into supposed adulthood. School wasn’t brilliant, but I got through, did the college and uni circuit, then crashed out after graduation (the joys of academia without the savvy). At least I can say I have a degree in Management and Tourism to my name from the University of Brighton.
After my dad died my mum bought me and my younger sister Debra, up herself, working in kitchens of local schools, gradually rising to become head chef at a secondary school canteen. She worked very hard and still managed to take us abroad on holiday every year. It was important to her we didn’t miss out, and nowadays she has a masters herself in comparative literature. I think it is through her and my step dad that the seed of who I am now, at least creatively, stemmed.
Nowadays I live in Maidstone, having moved here seven years ago. I had found myself doing a community regeneration type post in Ashford, but it really wasn’t my sort of thing. It was a consultation role and the residents had a habit of moaning a lot about everything that was wrong in their lives and where they lived. It was very depressing to say the least.
Why Maidstone? I’d escaped into nightclub and bar djing. Self taught I was first involved with a club called Bar Three Zero in Ashford, but after coming 4th out of 50 dj’s at a competition in Dover, and a residency at London’s Renaissance Rooms I found myself drawn to the town because of a scene called Club Class who were based at what was then the River Bar. Nowadays they have evolved into Saved Records, an eventwhich operates from the Source Bar when it is in town. My perspective on life started to change, though I still wouldn’t have called myself savvy, there was still definitely something I was missing, an invisible barrier of sorts I couldn’t break through. Passion and talent alone wasn’t enough, though I came close, coming 5th in another competition, this time run by an international djing magazine.
Right deep breath, writing about that time in my life does tend to bring to the surface some very strong feelings, but bottom line is I have moved on. That was then and it’s impossible to go back. It’s like an ex boyfriend or girlfriend, the split is very painful, but you recover and hey, plenty more fish in the sea, if you’ll forgive the Isobel Eats Fish pun. And I am actually pretty happy where I am right now. I genuinely have no regrets.
Whoever I’m communicating with, working with, or friends with at any time inspires me, these people are our teachers, our own reflections. So who inspires me could be anyone and anybody, even if the experience is negative it teaches you about what you don’t want, a process of elimination is still a positive as long as you don’t give up.
Outside of friends, family and everyday type situations I would have to say people like Nic Fancily of the aforementioned Saved Records, Michael Palin, JK Rowling, Stephen Fry, and a name not as many people would have heard of, Steve Pavlina, my personal development guru. I’m also somewhat of a Twilight movie junkie, I just love the idea of vampires and really, just about anything that challenges the imagination and takes you to another place, raises the game. I mean, I’ve been reading for the last year and a half the British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects which has been fascinating, I’ve just finished reading it. In relation to that I really have to mention that Neil Macgregor the author of the book, and director of the British Museum, inspires me.
Travel and seeing new places also inspires me. To date I’ve visited 20 countries, mostly in Europe, but also the US and Canada. I want to get to Italy at the earliest possibility and have my sights set on Florence, a simple act of kindness, a million and one things at risk of sounding like Sleepless in Seattle.
I would have to say positive qualities in a person are something that moves me. It seems a really obvious thing to say, but in my experience often people forget to mention it. I find it so refreshing when someone has a can do attitude, there’s not enough of that in this world.
History and science is another subject that fascinates me. This is a later development and wasn’t always the case. I remember once getting 14% in a history test at school, I figure because I’d spelt my name right at the top of the paper. So it’s sort of odd how it’s swung to the other extreme now. I sort of get it nowadays, Night at the Museum is a film I like. It’s not my favourite by a long shot, but it works. I think for pure artistry it would have to be films like Memoirs of a Geisha and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They are intelligent and beautiful to watch, and the fight scenes are just like, wow!
One day I might be inspired by Gershwin, the next by Faithless or U2, or something the radio plays unexpectedly.
Present and Future
1440, one photo and poem for every minute of the day is what I am currently working on, a project I started when I was in temporary accommodation of all places. It became a way out of my situation then. I figured why should I think anything less of myself as a person just because of where I live. It was sort of like fighting back when I started out on it, and you can see that in some of the early photos and poems, where I reference Banksy, the subversive graffiti artist. Yet I’ve always tried to put a balanced slant on my work even when the subject matter has been quite negative, or dark, which hasn’t always been easy.
At any rate it’s taken me so far to places like Newcastle, Edinburgh, Prague, Budapest, all glued together by Maidstone, my home town, and London and the South East. Each one of which has been a wonderful learning experience. I give each hour a title and theme, hour 1 was “Smoking Gun”, hour two was “The Dream That Died For Me”, and so on. The latest hour I’ve completed, hour nine is entitled “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”.
I have early thoughts and some photos already on what theme and approach to take for hour ten, only time will tell. Watch this space…
Recently at the 10th anniversary celebration of Nucleus arts I came across a new range of jewellery – which I absolutely LOVE. I felt I had to feature these creatives on Creatabot. So I introduce to you Shelley and John from Snapdragon Designs…
So what is your creative background?
John and I met at KIAD (Kent Institute of Art and Design, now UCA) in Canterbury where we both studied for a BTEC National Diploma in general art and design. We both went on to study Graphic Design at De Montfort University in Lincoln graduating in 2004. John has always made military themed models and scenery and I discovered a love for bookbinding and print making at KIAD.
What made you set up Snapdragon Designs?
Snapdragon Designs was set up initially to give me a way of creating my own line of luxury books but when John’s school (where he teaches) bought the laser cutter last year it opened up new ideas and made us create the jewellery side of Snapdragons.
What other career paths have you taken?
After uni we took quite divergent paths, I went to get an apprenticeship in bookbinding and have been working as a bookbinder for almost 8 years. John initially went into Graphic Design for a small company (Team Cortexx) near Maidstone and later retrained as a design and technology teacher which he has been doing for 5 years. John is also an archery instructor and we both enjoy making our own arrows.
Who inspires you both locally and universally?
Vivienne Westwood has always inspired me and in the future I hope to do a whole line of jewellery using vintage tartans. Its really hard to say who inspires me locally as I’ve only just started getting involved with the creatives of Kent but I think Nucleus arts are doing a great job and there’s lots of inspiration to be found there. John’s inspiration tends to come from more traditional sources and artists such as Barbara Hepworth, John Constable and artistic movements such as Art Deco, but also from many wargaming/fantasy artists.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
We would love to see the jewellery really taking off with a hope to expanding further and getting it into shops.
Stepping Stone Studios are holding an Arts Carnival on Museum Avenue , Maidstone, on the 14th of July. They are joining up with local businesses and want to involve the town’s art groups. This is the call out to get stall holders and performers involved.
They are thinking bunting, hot food, arts and crafts stalls, performance. If anyone has any suggestions simply pitch your ideas in!
Here are some things to get you started:
1. Pitches and Stalls going for £6! Be one of the 15 stalls taking part.
2. Ideas for entertainment / food / performance. Know any awesome musicians or street performers? Pass the details on – the more acts the better!
3. Exhibit over the week! With all the fuss of the carival, increased footfall and a summer of exciting events it’s pretty good exposure in town centre.
4. Fabric donations required! For bunting workshops to start in June!
The event will kick off at 12pm
Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are seeking out interesting, quirky Christmas presents a good old fashioned FREE to enter art and crafts fair could be a pleasant way to shop. The fair is being held at Maidstone Museum on the 26th of November. HAYBOX will be there selling their illustration prints, hand printed cards and originals.
Pennies Day Nurseries; a family-run childcare group working in day nurseries, nannying and clubs for older children want to hear from independent animation specialists. We’ve been involved in media for children for a few years and the new project is scheduled for 2012, following our launch of audio podcasts in 2011.
We’ll provide written stories and mp3 files, we’d love to hear from independent animators with original ideas for creating visuals based on our stories and copyrighted characters. Ideally we want someone local to our base in Maidstone, allowing us to meet and workshop the production.
In the first instance contact Media Officer Neil Nixon via email; email@example.com