We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.
This is our tenth interview, to read the others, please go here. Today, we are publishing this engaging and enteraining interview with talented mobile artist, Joyce Harkin from Scotland, United Kingdom. Enjoy.
All images ©Joyce Harkin
What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
I desperately wanted to be an actress! Thinking back, I suspect that was due to being very shy and I thought it would be better or easier to be someone else. I was gutted when I wasn’t picked to be Snow-white in the school play (not even one of the dwarves). In that very candid way of sisters, mine told me I would never be pretty enough.
Getting a prize from my school for passing my 11+ (an exam taken at the end of primary school at around 12 years old) with highest mark in the county. The book was “Little Women” by Louisa M Alcott. I loved it and I still have it!
I had a Saturday job in a florists when I was 14. I absolutely loved it. Earning my own money, which was 15 shillings (yes I am that old) made me feel so grown-up. The lovely earthy, damp smell and the perfumes and colours of the flowers were so beautiful. My mother loved gardening and so do I. We didn’t have much money, so the very idea that people would spend money on something as non-essential as flowers was a revelation to me.
Private or state school?
State school. I had a thirst for knowledge so I loved school and was a very good pupil. My secondary school was a Catholic convent school. Some of the nun’s were inspirational teachers and some were just sadistic. But they certainly did educate us to a very high standard and I am grateful that they taught us to use our brains, to question everything and to believe in ourselves. They also taught us that boys were evil of course, but that’s another story!
University or Work?
I would have loved to have gone to University or Art School but could not afford to do so. My father was an alcoholic and we didn’t get on at all, so I left home the day after I left school. I got a job in a hotel where I could live-in and save my wages. The family I worked for were brilliant and were very good to me. It was really hard work but I had a great time and I stayed for three years. My first proper job after I left the hotel was as an heraldic artist. I hand-painted heraldic crests and coats-of-arms on anything from plaques to car doors. At that time you couldn’t just use the internet to see what they should look like. You had to look up huge reference books where devices and arms were described in French. They had to painted exactly as described. I loved the work and became very skilled, but it didn’t pay enough and I had to work as a barmaid at night to make ends meet. I’ve done lots and lots of different things since, including teaching and running my own business.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I can’t say I ever had a mentor as such. Although, of course, many people have inspired and influenced me over the years and have changed how I see and experience the world.
How physically fit are you?
Not nearly as fit as I would like to be but I can’t really complain. I walk the dog a lot and do tai chi and yoga, but I’m getting older and slower with all the usual aches and pains. Old age doesn’t come alone, just as they say. I have osteoporosis and have broken bones many times but I have been having treatment which seems to be working and it’s been a while since I’ve broken anything! Fingers crossed, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.
Ambition or Talent: What matters more to success?
I don’t think you can achieve much if you don’t have a good helping of both. Along with perseverance and a big dollop of luck.
How politically committed are you?
Very! Women died to give me the right to vote and I really believe that you cannot complain about how awful things are if you’re not willing to engage and participate in the political process. Too many people today are feeling that their voices don’t matter. That’s a dangerous state of affairs.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
Chickens! I have always wanted to have chickens and to live in the sort of house/garden where it would be possible to be more self-sufficient. A few Indian runner ducks would be an added bonus.
What’s your biggest extravagance?
I have an awful lot of expensive reference books on all sorts of arts and crafts that interest me. I also read fiction voraciously. I get through a couple of books a week and can spend many happy hours and pounds in a good bookshop. I have also amassed quite a lot of arts and crafts supplies and equipment over many years, I just can’t help myself.
In what place are you happiest?
I live in Scotland and I love it. I go hill-walking and being alone with the dog in beautiful, wild scenery is as necessary to me as breathing. I particularly love being near the water and there’s plenty of it here – streams, rivers, lochs and coastline in abundance to explore and enjoy.
What ambitions do you still have?
I have relatives in Australia and New Zealand and I would love to visit them someday. I have wanted to tour round New Zealand in a campervan since I was a child. It just hasn’t happened yet. Unfortunately my husband is not a good traveller.
What drives you on?
I haven’t seen everything and done everything. There’s still lots to learn. Films I haven’t seen, books I haven’t read, music I haven’t heard, galleries and places I haven’t yet visited. Images and ideas I have in my head…
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Oh that’s a hard one! Probably remaining happily married to the same man for the last 46 years.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Intolerance. What a different world we would be living in if we were all more tolerant of one another and respectful of our differences.
If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?
Wow! Haven’t you done well! You should have had more faith in yourself and not worried so much.
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I lost a beautiful framed photograph of my mother when we were burgled many years ago and I know that the thief will have just thrown the photo away somewhere.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
I think our ongoing challenge is in changing the way we interact with our planet and our fellow inhabitants, humans, animals and plants. We are so wasteful and disrespectful. There has to be a fundamental change if we are all going to survive.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
I absolutely do. I have had a couple of experiences that have given me that belief. Although I would not describe myself as religious (I have so many problems with organised religions). I feel really comfortable with the idea of reincarnation and karma.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
It would be very churlish of me to go below 6 but I wouldn’t go higher than 8 because there is still hopefully some way still to go.
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