Unidentical twins share same artistic dream in Chichester

Sammie and Marcie Mayhead
Sammie and Marcie Mayhead

Sammie and Marcie Mayhead are unidentical twins, born just two minutes apart.

But they have an identical approach to their art – even if their artistic practice has taken them in very different directions.

Both, though, have loved their time at the University of Chichester where farewell beckons. They will show the fruits of their three years of study in the Fine Art BA Degree Show 2019. Taking place in the university’s artOne building, the show is open to the public from Friday to Thursday, May 17 to 23, weekdays 11am-6pm and weekends 11am-4pm.

“We get on very, very well,” says Sammie, “and we are both doing the same degree, and it is great to be able to talk about art practice together.”

“We don’t read each other’s minds!” says Marcie. “But we do support each other, which is great. Our art work for both of us comes from our hobbies, but we are challenging ourselves to push ourselves forward.

“I am a photographer, and I am challenging myself to do change photography. I don’t just take a photograph. From an art perspective, you think much more in depth about the image, and when I take the image, I change it into black and white. I take pictures of the human body but from unusual angles. I change it into black and white and enhance the details of the skin.

“I go for the torso upwards. I feel like the torso is stronger imagery. And I take the pictures outside. There is no false light. Whatever the weather is is what I take the photograph in.”

Sammie on the other hand has developed her practice from her love of crochet: “My work is about repetition and textile and craft. I subvert the traditional craft and do crochet as contemporary art work.

“Lots of people do baby blankets and knitted cardigans, but I crochet sculptural objects in space.

“I use jute. A lot of people have different experiences of the material. I want people to walk into the space. Movement is very important to me. I want people to feel engaged and intertwined with the work.”

Sammie – originally from Portsmouth – knows she will look back on her time in Chichester fondly: “I think the course has given me confidence within my work. I have always done crochet, but this degree has really pushed me.”

Also graduating this year is 54-year-old Ali Gailer, from Bognor who is delighted finally to have got round to it.

“I should have done this before! But life and children and other things get in the way. Your life takes you on a journey in different directions and other things take over.

“But I was stuck in a bit of a rut and somebody said to me ‘You should think about doing a degree course’, but I didn’t know you could.

“But I thought about it and I decided to go for it. When I left school, art was always my passion.”

And now has proved the perfect timing. She has got children aged 21 and 19 and 14. Her son is currently at university; her daughter is at performing-arts school; and the three of them will coincide as they complete their courses – in good time for Ali to then focus on her 14-year-old who will be preparing for GCSEs.

As for her art, Ali focuses on the environment, using a metal armature which is covered in wire into which she has woven newspaper rolls – to create a tree which has been hanged upside down: “The work is about what we are doing to nature and the environment. What we are doing is going to come back at us; it is going to be our problem.”

Ali has also created 60,000 plaster Monopoly-style houses to spread on the floor around the tree: “The tree represents nature and the houses represent what we are doing to nature. The houses represent our impact on nature.”

Outstanding performances in Shadowlands at Chichester Festival Theatre

See who's coming to the Brighton Festival

Downton star Hugh Bonneville on why Shadowlands is just for Chichester

Cold Feet star James Nesbitt opens Chichester Festival Theatre summer season

Plans unveiled for a new 3,500-capacity music venue in Chichester

Fantastic line-up unveiled for 2019 Festival of Chichester

See who's coming to this year's Festival of Chichester - picture gallery