Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I have never been one for chain letters and such like but my friend and fellow textile lover Claire Wellesley-Smith asked me if I would take part in a 'blog hop', so I thought why not throw caution to the wind.

This blog has always been about reflecting on my practice and so it is always useful to have a few prompts in order to step back and take stock. Here goes...

What am I working on?
Just now I have a couple of projects on the go. In fact they are both works that have been on and off for a while with shifting deadlines. Firstly I am working on a project with the Bradford Textile Archive, which involves a wide spectrum of artists creating responses to the collection. My work responds to some weave designs which will be translated as hand stitch on paper (image below). The exhibition, called 'Pick & Mix', opens 13th January 2015 at the new Dye House Gallery, Bradford.

The other project I am finishing off is my 'Linear Mapping' installation work, which I have written about previously here, here and here. The work involves creating a series of threads that each represent walks. I have the finishing touches to complete before that heads down to One Church Street Gallery, Buckinghamshire for 'Pinpoint II' in February 2015.

How does my work differ from others of it's genre?
I find this a tricky question as my work is so varied. In my practice I explore very varied subjects and ideas (as you see in the above two projects), I have no single technique or material that characterises my practice although it is all grounded in a sort of vocabulary of textiles. Using stitch, natural dye, cyanotype, applique and print I find ways to make marks, echoes and traces. My work has sometimes been referred to as ghostly and, whilst this isn't exactly a quality I am looking for, I think my work often has an ethereal quality; something that might fade away, the invisible made barely visible.

Why do I do what I do?
I suppose I feel that there are some things that are difficult to articulate with verbal language, so for me art is a way of expressing but also recording an idea. I am also acutely aware of the transience of life, of moments that slip away, of fragile objects that disintegrate; making can be a way of attempting to capture this fragility, futile though this might be.

How does my process work?
My creative process is much more about immersing myself in the subject matter, than in a specific technique or material. In particular walking has an important role in my practice.  It forms part of my research process, enabling me to observe and experience my environment. Making similar walks at different times and seasons I observe subtle changes in myself and the landscape. The speed of my walking might be influenced by weather conditions and the observed flora and fauna may vary from day to day. Capturing the things I observe, trying to contain my thoughts and feelings I use a variety of materials and techniques. Often my ideas are 'contained' within a particular object or form as a kind of vessel.

So that's all from me, and I pass on the blogging baton to someone with very different work, which I admire greatly; award winning photographer and studio buddy Carolyn Mendelsohn.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Time to work, time to think

It's been a while since I was in the studio properly doing my own work. But the combination of forthcoming deadlines and some focussed time to myself means I have been doing a little sampling. These (below) are ideas being explored for a an exhibition in association with the Bradford Textile Archive, early next year.

I was also reminded this week of the need for reflective thinking and writing. Trying to foster reflective journal writing in my students has given me the opportunity to look back over some of my own journals from way back. The need to work and then pause, step back, take stock is as important now as it ever was when I was a student. The need to record it, even more important when working time is so fragmented.

I have been thinking about the relationships between woven textiles and stitch; repetition, grids and connections understood through material associations.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Tangled up in blue

The last couple of weeks have been frantic. I have found myself dashing across the country in a whirlwind of blue, traveling, teaching and networking.

I was lucky enough to visit The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester last week with my Bradford students. I had a quick chat with the talented Julia Jowett, a natter with Viv of Hen's Teeth, and a catch up with my ex-student Kate Whitehead. Travelling over to Stafford I met up with Jennifer Collier and over to Unit Twelve to teach a cyanotype workshop with 12 lovely ladies. In a tangle of blue I headed east to Grimsby and the Fishing Heritage Centre to teach another workshop for The 62 Group, coinciding with Ebb & Flow.

Tangled and tired, I am having a little rest now, but it was so lovely to see you all.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Festival Finds

In the past year or two during Saltaire Festival and Saltaire Arts Trail I have found myself demonstrating or exhibiting and therefore missing out on the festivities. This year I didn't get round to planning anything in the studio, so apologies to anyone who popped in t the butterfly rooms looking for me.

Instead I have had a little look around and found myself a few treasures yesterday with some lovely finds from the Rose & Brown Vintage Fair. Many of these lovely old sewing silk reels are in perfect condition, as good as the day they were made.

I have been searching for locally produced sewing thread reels for a little while, since I came across a reference to the magnitude of the local thread industry. Lister's mill in Bradford were 'world leaders' in sewing silks and exported them all around the world. But from what I can gather by the 1930's production of sewing threads at Lister's had ceased due to competition from their nearest rivals. Around this time many smaller mills were taken over by larger concerns or pushed out of the market, so that only a few companies remained.

I find it odd that this aspect of the textile industry is seldom mentioned locally, where the focus is usually on Worsted production. So it is really special to find these little treasures, that would usually be overlooked. I will be doing a little more 'digging' into this subject for  future project so any intersting pointers would be gratefully received.

If you are also a lover of old cotton reels you might find this thought provoking.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Today is the start of the the 62 Group's Ebb & Flow exhibition in Grimsby. However the Official Opening event will take place on Saturday, with June Hill opening the exhibition. I am really looking forward to seeing the final hanging of the exhibition at both venues, especially at Grimsby Minster, which will host some really massive pieces of textile art.

There will be work by some big names, including Audrey Walker MBE, Tilleke Schwarz, Rachael Howard and Heather Belcher, to name but a few. It feels slightly surreal to be exhibiting alongside these artists... how did that happen?

It would be lovely to see you there at the opening on Saturday 13th September 2014.

The exhibition is spread over 2 venues:
From 3.30 pm at the Fishing Heritage Centre
From 5.00 pm at Grimsby Minster

The exhibition runs 9th September to 2nd November, and is accompanied by two other textile related exhibitions.

You can find more information about Ebb & Flow exhibition and special events here.

I have just sent out a newsletter to my subscribers, which you can read here.


These little pieces will be on show as part of 'Spectrum' at Unit Twelve. "This exhibition will showcase work that focuses on the interplay between colour and light, work that is bold, bright and graphic"... not what you would usually expect from my work. However I have returned to some little pieces of cyanotype I started experimenting with previously, patching together fragments.

The exhibition runs from 4th September to 29th November 2014.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ebb & Flow

Today I visited Grimsby to hang my work for the forthcoming 62 Group exhibition 'Ebb & Flow'. For this exhibition I have worked on a sequence of three large cyanotype prints on silk. The tryptic, called 'Baptism', explores the euphoric experience of cold water swimming. Through personal observations, the sensual awakening of the body is traced as shimmering stitched marks on the surface.

You can see this and work by many distinguished artists in Ebb & Flow at the Fishing Heritage Centre and Grimsby Minster, Grimsby, NE Lincolnshire from 9th September to 2nd November 2014. You can see some photos and read about the special events on the Ebb & Flow Facebook page.


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