Secret Seven band together for an art exhibition with a twist

The Secret Seven mounting an exhibition of their artwork at Luton's Hat Factory
The Secret Seven mounting an exhibition of their artwork at Luton's Hat Factory

Take seven aspiring artists ranging in age from 19 to 60 something.

Factor in a common denominator - they’re all second year BA fine arts honours students at the University of Bedfordshire – and hey presto! You have the Secret Seven (with apologies to Enid Blyton).

Each has a completely different take on her chosen subject and they’re mounting an exhibition of their inspiring work at the Hat Factory at the end of the month.

Ringleader Susie Coussens, 65, of Stopsley was a legal secretary all her working life. But the artist within has now been let loose. “A big painting has been waiting to burst out all these years,” she smiles. And her huge colourful canvases – featuring women in various stages of undress – bear testament to the talent that has lain dormant for so long.

In the uni’s fifth floor studio, Isabel Grundy, 21, from Dunstable is sculpting several copies of the same male torso. In apron and gloves, she’s making silicone moulds.

She says: “You always hear about domestic violence against women, but not against men.

“I want to have five unblemished front chests against one wall and five opposite featuring bruises and cuts, depicting that it happens to men as well, to make people think.”

Audrey Imber, 64, of Letchworth is another senior citizen who suppressed her artistic ambitions to become a primary school teacher. She then ran her own outdoor clothing business.

But now she’s doing exactly what she wanted to do as a teenager and is loving every minute.

“I’m drawn to damaged and decaying landscapes, like the overgrown and scruffy bits of an allotment,” she explains. “I’m doing a triptych (three panels) of a gnarled old tree with threads and wire going through it and out of it.”

Nineteen-year-old Aimee Smith of Letchworth is into performance art featuring strong women with a historical content. “In the modern world we’ve been degraded to becoming the underdog,” she asserts. “I want to get the message out that we are the rulers of our own destiny.”

Elaine Cooney, also 19, from Sundon Park is an environmentalist. She’s currently fashioning an old cooker hood into an ultra cool sculpture and believes waste material should be turned into something creative.

It’s buildings that capture the imagination of Rebecca Mairs, 21, of Lincoln. She’s a big fan of digital art.

Nazia Hussain, 21, of St Albans is fascinated by the mind. “I’ve done a lot of research and many creative people have a mental illness,” she says. “My portraits are full of scribbles representing anxiety.”