betty3Life’s Big Canvas is run by Chloe McGenn, a multi-media artist from Leeds.  Her mission is to make the whole world a playful place, and to encourage creativity, even in the most mundane places and stubborn people.

She is the offspring of a mother who would often say ‘we could make that,’ and a father who hoarded second hand stuff in his garage (a sort of charitable Delboy).

Her creative life began as a teenager, making her own clothes out of duvet covers and writing fanzines about imaginary bands she created with her brothers. This led to eventually producing her own zine, Pocket, in which she interviewed and reviewed real bands, asking them insightful questions such as ‘Peas or cheese?’.

After brief stints as a bingo caller, behavioural therapist, dental receptionist and one of those people who put stickers on oranges, she found her true calling as an artist. She started by selling animal paintings, and then progressed to greeting cards, toys and jewellery.

She creates whimsical items for the child within – whether it’s a simple badge with something from your childhood, kits to create something yourself, or jewellery that comes with instructions on how to play with it.

Chloe is probably most well known for paper folding in many forms, most recently iris folding – she is fascinated by how something flat like paper can become three dimensional with a few origami folds. She also continues to experiment with the scale of pieces by seeing how big or small the starting piece of paper can be.

Life’s Big Canvas has been a part of the independent retail scene in Leeds for the last four years, being involved in shops, fairs, workshops and galleries. She continues to experiment and play daily, wherever she is, and can often be found folding tiny origami dinosaurs in coffee shops.

Photo credit – Betty Lawless