“Becoming a painter would’ve been the obvious choice”
Becoming a painter would’ve been the obvious choice, my father is a fine artist, he paints in oil and watercolour. We used to spend a great deal of time in galleries and museums but I found I wasn’t very good at mixing up paint colours. Fabrics are ready made paint boxes but with the added benefit of a tactile and textured canvas. My grandmother was always stitching or mending something and I found the sewing box to be endlessly fascinating. Eventually I realised I could paint with fabrics.
How did you learn the craft
I studied textiles at university and I knew within a week thats what I wanted to do, so in the second and third year I specialised in embroidered textiles. Also my Dad was a huge influence on me, he taught me so much about observation and an eye for detail. He always told me to spend twice as long looking as I did actually making marks on paper, the advice has served me well.
“My dad still inspires me, at 83 years old he is still producing incredible work“
What challenges do textiles present
The process is slow and time consuming, I wish there was a way I could speed the process up. It’s frustrating having to turn down exhibition invites because of lack of pieces to show. The flip side of that is that I sell everything I make so that naturally creates scarcity. It is still a challenge to get my work accepted as real art. Just because something is stitched it shouldn’t lessen its value.
Could you give me an overview of the way you work
I work mostly from photographs, I sketch directly onto the cotton calico base fabric. I don’t use a stabiliser or hoop. Once I have a sketch I begin to gather a palette of fabrics which offer me the colours and textures that I need. I cut tiny pieces of fabric and lay them down, painting with them is small areas. Once I’m happy with the overall balance, I begin to free motion stitch on my machine. I use Maderia Rayons threads as they have a lovely soft sheen and run smoothly through my machine. I continue to work in this way, small areas at a time, constantly evaluating, adding and amending until eventually I have the completed piece.
What inspires you now?
My Dad still inspires me, at 83 years old he is still producing work of an incredible standard. I am inspired by the forces of nature and the beauty that surrounds us, twisting mighty trees and wondrous sunsets in expansive skies, nature is always a great inspiration.
Do you have a favourite piece of work?
I don’t have one overall favourite but I like the pieces that I find most challenging to do. They are the ones you learn the most from and get the greatest satisfaction from. If I had to pick one it would probably be a piece called “Along the shoreline” it was a study of the sea washing up on the beach. It was definitely one of those tricky pieces but I love how it turned out.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to be able to spend more time at my machine everyday and I would really love to be able to get involved in exhibitions outside of the UK.