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On the run

It has taken two months for my residency at the Observatory to begin to sink in and even now it only hovers on the surface. 


I had been on the run all of my life when I finally landed on the south coast in September 2014. After living inland for 35 years, Milford on Sea, near Lymington was my new home. I was born and raised on the Isle of Man, slap bang in the middle of the Irish sea and where I was brought up on boats, the beach and the sea. In 1978, my treat after finishing my O'levels was to help deliver a triamaran, Three Legs of Mann, from the Isle of Man to Plymouth ready for the single handed transatlantic yacht race, 25 knots all the way! I felt most at home at the beach or staring out to sea with the salt on my face. But I can't stay there and I run away to Art School. My dream, to be an artist, My dream to escape into my fantasy world and create more and more fantasies, stories, and pictures. And that is what I do. I'm taught by many of our most famous British Artists. I make installations, sculpture, paintings and more. I run from success and keep running and running and running.


For me the Observatory residency was the beginning of a giant unravelling. So, I've arrived in Milford on Sea, my 12 year old son is driving me mad, as he isn't using his creativity and this leads me to SPUD youth. Which in turn leads me to the Observatory. And when this opportunity is presented to me I can hardly speak. A rarity - I am lost for words.


The days at the Observatory were full of everything and nothing. During my residency I would wake up in a panic every single night, unable to sleep. My mind was on overdrive. A million ideas, three thousand tonnes of happiness, panic as to whether there will be enough time to express this magnitude of art and stories in my life time.


At the Observatory I find my voice.

I free up my marks.

I make sculptures.

I begin to write my stories and poems.

I learn to listen with genuine interest.

I am told hundreds of intimate stories.

And during this time I realise this is my first real home. In 54 years I've never felt happy like this or settled anywhere before. I've always been so proud to describe myself as some kind of gypsy.


As I write my wordpress blog, I receive messages from people with terminal illness's, people who are in mourning over recent bereavements and are bearing their experiences and pain. And they say thank you for my blog, as it has brightened their day. I am gobsmacked. I have written this for myself. I make my art for myself and now I hear that I have touched some souls and made a difference. As a child I chose to become an artist so I could escape in to my fantasy world and now it's become a reality in every sense.


This is just the beginning, but here are some images of the work created from my residency. I thank Mark Drury and all the team for dreaming their dreams and making them real. It was brilliant to meet everyone who came to the Observatory while I was there or sent me messages, supported me and shared with me. 


For more images, events and stories:

Middle distance

Deep, deeper, deep

a surface movement

float, floats, floating

A high pitched sound    middle distance

See, seen, sea

A calm misty morning, early

walk, walking, running

some feathers, a fish, a breeze

Deeper, deep, deeper

words, a meaning now pausing

sky land sea



         Julie Collins     February - March 2016

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