40’s: Try to find a way to balance career and family as it suit you. If you want children, do not delay that too much because of your career.

40’s: Try to find a way to balance career and family as it suit you. If you want children, do not delay that too much because of your career.

Work:

What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?

I did not think I required any advice as I knew for a long time what I wanted to become – a medical doctor. The unexpected shock came though when I started to fail in completing my studies at the high school and even worse I as did not pass the exams to start studying my chosen profession. At that point my mother panicked and suggested I apply to another university course, which I did, as I had no plan B of my own. That application was successful.

What did you want to be when you left education?

It took me ten years to complete my first MA. I lived in a country where university fees do not exist thus prolonged studies, at least in my days were rather common. I have never pursed working in the field this degree qualifies me to work. Nevertheless, those years spent in education have a profound impact how I have practiced as an artist thereafter. For the first couple of years I was a full-time student but gradually my work in the theatre and dance started to take over and the university studies became of a secondary importance. Once finished I was happy I could just concentrate on my career in the performance arts. In my thirties I decided to move to UK and study again. I managed to keep myself a full-time student for the next six years, working only a little bit. It was a revelation when I was diagnosed with dyslexia . Now I finally understood why I had failed in my medical school exams and also why it had been rather hard work to complete my first MA. The visual art degrees where much easier for me to complete. When I graduated I would have loved to keep on working as a visual artist but financially that was not a way forward.

Did your mother work?

She did. She had two qualifications and changed her career from teaching to medicine and then back to teaching.

Love & Relationships:

Do you think getting married is important?

I never thought it would be and for a long while I forgot to pursue that aspect in my life all together. I probably put that attitude down to women studies I did as part of my first degree and being a feminist in the 1990’s. Or I just did not meet the right man to marry and have a family with. I am proud that I have been self-sufficient for the 30 odd years that I have worked as a freelance artist. It’s been tough but I’ve managed. On the other hand, I have had enough of it. If getting married with emotional and financial security was an option I would immediately change for that.

What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?

The only thing I ever dreamed of was to marry a foreigner. I grew up in a very monocultural environment. I cannot recall thinking of his profession or interests but the idea of him being a foreigner was appealing to me.

Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?

My parents have been married for 50 years. Happily? I have my doubts. Me and my partner both have failed in relationships before we found each other. I hope we have learned from our mistakes and could make this relationship work in the best possible way.

Family:

How like your mother are you?

I do not think I am like my mother. I hope the only common thing is that we both have studied two different vocations. I think my mom would have liked to be an artist but she never had the guts or possibility to pursue that until she retired.

What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?

Try to find a way to balance career and family as it suit you. If you want children, do not delay that too much because of your career.

Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter? Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?

I do my best to provide my son and daughter the same options. They have to choose what they want. It has been so far somewhat easy as I got twins. They are living through the same family circumstances emotionally and financially.

Expectations and Dreams:

Who are your heroines and why?

I do not think I have ever thought anyone as my hero.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

I had my children on my own. I was a single mum by choice in a foreign country without any family or partner to support me. Having experienced infertility problems for several years I was running out of time. In the end my last option was to try to conceive with donated sperm. A miracle happened. Or two if you like as I had healthy twins in my early 40’s. Having children is also my biggest achievement. Combining motherhood and work life as a freelance artist is difficult, though I have managed to find a way around it. My creative work life used to drive me forward but I am happy to give up it as it was to be able to experience life with my children.

Age:

How old are you?

49 turning 50 in a few weeks time

What has been your favourite age to be and why?

In retrospect my 20’s was a wonderful time as I still believed that If you work hard you can achieve what you want. I also believed that being a woman is not a hindrance. I do not believe neither anymore. Working hard is important but there is no guarantee your efforts and input will be appreciated and you will get where you want. Being a woman and a mother makes it even harder.

Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)

My childhood in the 1970’s and 80’s was safe and sound. Enough cultural opportunities, it was safe to travel and interact with people. Much better circumstances than the generation of my parents had. They were growing up in the aftermath of the World War II. I do not see the future in a very bright light. I think the current political atmosphere is getting really scary and seems like we are moving backwards rather than forwards.

Obstacles:

What have been the biggest challenges in your life?

Making a living as freelance artist and eventually having children and trying to make that combination function in real life.

Self-image – Body or Looks:

Why do you dress the way that you do?

I do not shop a lot. To be honest I hate shopping as I rarely find what I like in the price category I can afford. I take good care of my clothes and use second hand ones a lot, also clothes handed down from my friends. At the moment I am considering to start sewing dresses for myself to be able to have something I want. I used to sew many of my performance clothes. Nevertheless, one day I would like to walk into a shop and just buy without having to consult the price tag first.

What would be your musical soundtrack?

Shostakovich; 4 Jazz Suite No.2

Do you have a life’s motto?

Make a change in your life when required. Do not moan, wait and hope that things will be done for you.

 

 

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40’s: I have brought my sons up to value women as independent thinkers. To realise that true equality is not simple and that they have a part to play as men, in enabling and ensuring that women receive equal opportunities in life.

40’s: I have brought my sons up to value women as independent thinkers. To realise that true equality is not simple and that they have a part to play as men, in enabling and ensuring that women receive equal opportunities in life.

Work:

What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?

I got a very mixed message as a young woman. My family were mostly keen that I followed my interests and encouraged me to get involved in creative and artistic activities. My school felt that these things were only useful as hobbies and that ‘the arts’ was not a career that was worth pursuing. My dance teacher and youth theatre director encouraged me to try to get a place on a degree course to study either of these subjects, whilst cautioning me that it was not easy and I would be up against a lot of competition. School careers advice looked at my academic ability and without asking me about my interests told me that I should be a teacher. I hated school and the idea of spending the rest of my life in a school dictating the petty rules to other young people filled me with dread and despair. If I knew one thing it is that I would not be a teacher. I despised school. (Part of my job now is as a teacher and I have spent much of my adult life teaching in different settings).

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40s: I can see time and again girls are moulded into stereotypes ‘maths is not for you’.

40s: I can see time and again girls are moulded into stereotypes ‘maths is not for you’.

Work:

What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?

I grew up in Yugoslavia, prosperous and socialist country. Women worked, concept of stay at home mum was unknown to us. You had to be really poorly educated not to be in any type of work. I was always good at maths and science and both my parents are engineers so engineering was something I was naturally advised on to pursue as a career. This was reflected at the university – 50% of engineering students were female. When I moved to England, I was a rarity  ( only 7% of engineering students were female).

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