82Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012I knew what I wanted to do when I was eight or ten watching television at home. But, when you lived in Mountain Ash, then you weren't someone who went away and became a production manager for TV.I was just a young woman who grew up in a mining village and wanted to do creative things.Creativity is her currency and she says it was only very recently that she truly understood her gift."I'd always assumed everyone is creative, I don't understand it when people don't see something that is just screaming at me - but I don't realise I'm thinking creatively, to me I'm just thinking."She is fortunate to have such a deep well of creativity as she is in such demand."One day I could be doing a period drama, then a contemporary drama, then a children's drama, then I could be designing a sports set, or a new news set for the studio or I could be designing stages for Cardiff Singer of the World. I might be designing palaces one minute, then a garden shed to be blown up the next."And all of it she sees in her mind's eye, and all of it makes her feel just an inch tall when it comes true.wedding breakfast room where Venita has branches festooned with flowers and ribbons cascading from the ceiling.as they were. I think the National Trust is amazing in how it keeps historic places alive and vibrant - bringing history forward so you can experience it in the present."Venita brought authentic games into the rooms for visitors to play and get involved with, but perhaps the piece that had most visitors talking on the house's opening weekend was the Gilt Room day-bed."I wanted to create a piece of furniture people could sit on to admire the grandeur of the room, and when I looked around I thought I actually really like the painting on the ceiling, maybe that should get as much of a viewing as everything else around. So I made a representation of a day bed for people to come in and sit on, or lie to enjoy the room and its atmosphere."Her attention to detail throughout her designed rooms at Tredegar House never fails to draw visitors in, and inspire them to pick up touch and feel something that can take them back in time. Nowhere is this more evident than in the glamour of the lavish wedding breakfast room where 17th century love notes adorn the upholstery and placecards as momento mori name the guests due at the feast. The whole sense of the room is that any minute the guests will start to arrive and take their places. There is also more than a hint of theatre in the It was like a surge of adrenalin and creative thought all at once - just immense excitement and extreme terror encapsulated in the same momentShe explains: "I wanted to bring the ceiling down to make the room more intimate so I began looking at visual references to 17th century theatre and how they managed their stages and that's where the idea came from to hang flowers from the ceiling. It really changes the feel of the room and has huge psychological effect on the space."Her enthusiasm for the house and her designs is obvious but as she says more than once, "I think I've got the best job in the world.
83www.networkshe.comSay Sheffield and for many the image of a dark, dusty and noisy industrial city springs to mind. Whilst the city is much brighter today, it still thrives on its industry and is proud of its part in history. Sheffield is still the home of steel and manufacturing, and as such is often celebrating this. The city has chosen a statue to proudly stand at the gateway to the city on the M1, there are plans for steel sculptures in the city centre, events celebrating this heritage often take place, and as a visitor to the city, the first thing you see when exiting the station is a sweeping steel water feature. There are many stories from those born and bred in the Steel City, and the Inspiring Women Forum (part of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce) were pleased to create an event to look at this important part of the South Yorkshire city. Joined by steel workers past and present, the audience were left inspired. Elinor Oldroyd General Manager at Firth Rixson Metals Ltd, a world leading provider of Seamless Rolled Rings, Metal Forgings and speciality metals spoke of her commitment to the industry and her initial struggle to be recognised in what is still a male dominated industry. We were also delighted to hear on behalf of one lady who worked in the steel mills during the war. She talked of the hard, back breaking work that the women had to endure. She recalled how one lady in the factory gave birth to her first child, and returned to work just days later. Due to the essential work that these women were doing, though terrified, they continued to work during air raids often watching dog fights in the sky above. Their hard work, long hours and commitment went mainly unrecognised as after the war years, the men returned to their jobs and women were dismissed, and expected to return to their pre-war lives. After over 60 years, the four of the 'women of steel' from Sheffield petitioned Downing Street where they were finally officially recognised for their hard work. These women fought their own kind of fight in the war years, and the City of Sheffield have decided to recognise their hard work by commissioning a 'Women of Steel' statue following their visit to Westminster. The figurative memorial statue will have pride of place in the City centre, showing that their war efforts will never be forgotten.Women of STEELThe women of Sheffield show their mettleSheffield Hallam University