Sofia Barton : Member Spotlight

 
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Firstly, tell us about yourself! Where do you live, what do you make and how many children do you have?

From the North East of Newcastle I am Newcastle born and bred. I spent four years in Edinburgh for University but came back to Newcastle after a horrid incident involving a violent partner. When I returned I reconnected with old friends, one of whom I ended up marrying and is my soul mate. I have one child named Alexander (Xander for short) who is my little ray of sunshine. I suffered with PND and I'm still recovering. Thankfully good company, making art and living next to a country park helps a great deal. 

How do you continue to engage with your art practice alongside raising children? Do you have a dedicated studio space and routine, or do you work from home in between other things? 

I work from home at the moment. I find myself working the most when my child is asleep in the evening and my husband's busy. I find the most creativity and productivity comes to me when I'm left alone. I enjoy the solitude but often regret the lack of sleep, when I wake up in paint. 

What does a typical day look like for you and how much time do you manage to carve out for your own work?

I manage 3-6 hours a day. However, I don't always get the inspiration to do what I want. My go to is Spotify, and I engage myself in music to get going. I always make time for work, but it doesn't always pan out if I plan a specific time. I've missed some Prince's Trust meetings due to not having childcare ! Although my mentor Lee has been invaluable in helping me develop my work. The regional pieces of art were his suggestion. Enstranged from my own side of the family I often rely on some really nice in laws. Lucky to have them ! 

Have you come up against specific challenges as an artist and mother? What were they and how have you navigated these challenges?

I often have financial difficulty with not being eligible for any childcare help. It was actually around my child's second birthday that we got a childminder a day a week. 

I have tried part time jobs (and due to the irregular hours had to drop it to look after my son) this unfortunately led to a mental breakdown. I accepted this wasn't failure on my part, but something that was out of my control. The artwork that I was doing was literally my lifeline.  

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

To never give up. My mentor told me once that in his lifetime of business he didn’t take no for an answer (in response to a gallery saying my work was too trendy) that it was a good idea to go back and ask why. 

Who are your role models? Who or what inspires and encourages you?

I find role models in feminists in history, generally those who oppose the norm and rebel. Sophia Duleep Singh and Malala Yousafzai are the most prominent. David Bowie and the metal band Kitty also had a massive influence on me. 

How has the experience of motherhood impacted your practice on an emotional/intellectual level? Has it made you view yourself/your work differently? Are there things that influence your work now that you didn't think about pre-kids?

I’m more aware of time management and monetary gain. For example if I make a design now it'll be focused at a particular regional area or it'll have a purpose. When I was doing photography I was a lot more lenient on myself, with more patience I think. I was socialising and a lot  more laid-back. My artwork is definitely more focused and more valued now as a parent. The end goal got it's priority. 

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If your child(ren) were asked “Tell me about your mother” what do you hope they would say? Are there particular things you are trying to show/teach them as an artist, a mother, a woman? 

Oh wow. I'm not sure what he/they would say ! I hope Xander thinks of me as fun and creative. 

I would try and show him the values I didn't know about as a child in my Asian Community. The equality between males and females for example. LGBT rights and friends. That women aren't cattle. Also, skin colour doesn't matter when it comes to love (Just look at mummy and daddy) The world will certainly be his oyster and he will understand compassion and acceptance. 

What drives you to continue to create work?

It's my therapy. Honestly wouldn't know what to do without it. Ive always drawn, painted or made something since I can remember. 

To see more of Sofia's wonderful work, check out her website or follow on instagram @inspiratori_art 

 
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