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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Meet Grande Dame: Special Guest Featured Artist from That Which We Do Not Understand

Tiff McGinnis is Grande Dame: she appeared in the first ever issue of Amelia's Magazine ten years ago so it's only fitting that she has produced an amazing one off piece of artwork to celebrate my 10th anniversary. Read on to find out about Saint Agatha.

Written by Amelia Gregory

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Tiff McGinnis, aka Grande Dame, is a highly collectible multi-disciplinary artist who is currently hosting My Voodoo On You, a spectacular solo show at the Ink_D gallery in Brighton. I have been working with Tiff since issue one of Amelia’s Magazine 10 years ago so I am really happy to announce that she has donated a one off silk screen print, featuring loads of 24 carat gold leaf and hand coloured with flouro acrylic paint. Saint Agatha is the Patron Saint of Breast Cancer Patients, Rape Survivors, Bell Ringers, Bakers, Jewellers, Martyrs, Wet Nurses, Fire and Volcanic Eruptions, and is depicted carrying her breasts on a tray because they were cut off when she refused the advances of a high ranking magistrate. Tiff was drawn to this subject because “I went to Catholic school for 12 years and have always been intrigued by religious iconography. Later my mother introduced me to Saint prayers, which are really a kind of personal voodoo for when you want or need something… Although I am not religious, I believe in the power of concentration and visualisation.

Grande Dame_My Voodoo On You portrait
What in particular drew you to Saint Agatha as the subject of your artwork?
I have been fascinated with Saints for sometime now. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, but other than St Francis of Assisi, we didn’t learn about them really. A few years ago my mom turned me on to the power of Saints through prayer. I don’t believe in God and absolutely detest organised religion. But we have this kind of game really. Say you want something, like when I was waiting to hear about my flat. We looked up who the Patron Saint of Home was. It was Saint Joseph. So for 3 weeks, or until I heard back from the landlord, I just chanted his name over and over and concentrated on the flat until I got it. I think my mom does Hail Marys, or some other prayer, but I just repeat their name and focus on what it is I want. I did it the other day when I heard a friend was ill and found the saint for her illness, repeated their name and by the end of the day she was better! Is it coincidence? Or is it power of concentration or positive thought or cosmic ordering? Who knows? But I use it a lot in my life. And I swear it always works!

I was drawn particularly to Agatha, as her story was so bizarre and gory. Many depictions are of her carrying her breasts on a tray, all though some passages have said that Saint Peter came to her and her breasts came back as bells or milk jugs. I have been researching saints for sometime now for a project I want to do and the odd thing is most women Saints were slaughtered and the men were just monks who died of old age… Funny that…

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How was she created?
I drew her in the Flash animation program which I use for all my sketching. Then the black, red and 24 carat gold leaf was silk screened and I hand painted the rest.

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You are currently hosting a spectacularly successful solo show, what has been the highlight of the exhibition so far?
The Private View night was amazing! Over 100 people showed up! I was really shocked. I didn’t expect that many people to come, as I don’t know a lot of people in Brighton. But friends came from Hastings, London, Somerset, from all over! It was brilliant! Also yesterday I gave a 2 hour talk on my career and how I ended up being an artist. It was kind of like a live therapy session! Ha! But it was cool to explain to people how I work and how I got to where I am. They seemed to enjoy it too! So yay! Result!

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How long have you been working towards the show and what has been the best and worst parts of being so absorbed in My Voodoo On You for such a long period of time?
It’s been a 5 year project in the making. Wrote the album in 2009. Recorded it in 2010. Animated in 2011, 12 and 13. And spent much of 2014 doing all the art for it. The best part of being absorbed? Hmm… Well my mother always said “keeping busy is the key to happiness“… So I suppose just being focused on this project has been beneficial to my mental state. Although there have been times where I questioned myself as to why was I doing it and was it a waste of my life… The worst parts have been – money. Not having much or any, or worrying where I will get more to finish everything… And the few days before the show opened was so stressful. I worked myself into a right state. In fact the night before the PV I honestly thought I was having a stroke! But all in all – it was worth it! The good & bad!

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What is the best thing about merging so many different methods of creativity?
Hmm… There isn’t a best thing really. It’s just how I work. I am a story teller who uses music, moving image and art to convey the meaning of the story… It all goes hand in hand. I would never hire anyone else to make my videos or do my record covers. I have to tell my own story. Also I am a control freak. Ha!

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How do you manage to juggle all the various elements of your art making?
It’s not that hard really. Computers allow us to be are own industries. I have to really be in the zone to make music and honestly haven’t recorded anything since I did the album in 2010. Having said that, I’m always writing things & storyboarding ideas in my head. As far as the art side of things. Again – the initial design is done in Flash on the computer so it’s not too difficult to manage. Plus it’s nice to step away from my desk and do a bit of panting or embroidery, or gilding etc…

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You currently live in Hastings – what are the best places to hang out if you are a creative living on the South Coast?
My flat! Ha! I don’t really hang out too much to be honest. This year especially, I just haven’t had the time. But there is a great music and arts scene here. The Royal Standard is great for live bands, and there are always cool warehouse parties happening at artist studios…

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What can we look forward to from Grande Dame in 2015?
More art most definitely! I really would like to bang out another animation for this project that I started ages ago. Then it will totally be behind me. And also loads of photographs from my exotic, tropical holiday that I am hoping to go on at some point this year!

You can read what Tiff has to say about her involvement in my book here and pledge for her outrageously wonderful one off artwork on my Kickstarter campaign page here. She receives 50% of profits.

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