Monday, 30 March 2015


Today I spent some time in the garden, clearing an overgrown path. As I worked at clearing the weeds and grass my mind went back to something I remembered watching, something about a gardening principle. I forget now the name of the garden designer and the details of the concept, apart from it being described as weeding 'like a cow'. The gardener demonstrated, slowly pulling handfuls of foliage, seemingly randomly from the border. I suppose a way of thinning, making space for growth but without being overly selective about which plants are removed. I wish I could remember more about it. While I steadily pulled at the dead grass, moss and weeds it gave me time to think, chew things over... ruminating I suppose.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Inspiration From Historical Textiles

Last weekend I enjoyed teaching a two-day workshop at my studio in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. The theme 'Inspiration from Historical Textiles' allowed me to dig out some of my textile treasures. My lovely students also brought some absolute treats of their own too. We spent the weekend talking about textiles, making cyanotype prints of textiles, drawing from textiles and stitching into textile. Obsessed; surely not!

Below are a few highlights. If you are interested in coming to one of my workshops you can find more information here.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Unpacking - repacking

It's been a busy few months for me, both in the studio and out and about. I haven't had a lot of time to think. Today I spent some time packing and re-packing artwork, which provided a little time to reflect on the projects I have been doing and where they are taking me. A talk I gave last week also gave me a chance to think about my creative practice and the many changes of direction I have followed.

Just at the moment I really feel like I am getting somewhere with finding ways to express my ideas. Of course there are lots of things I want to develop, but I do feel like the 'visual language' I am working with feels right.

There have been a few ambitious projects I have pursued that have worked out well, and shown me that I can work on a big scale (when before I thought I couldn't). I have also enjoyed working on installation pieces, which seems to satisfy an urge to arrange things in a space. I have also learnt a lot about myself, which feels like the whole point of making art, perhaps?


Monday, 16 February 2015

Linear Mapping

Earlier this month I travelled down to Buckinghamshire, to hang my installation work 'Linear Mapping' at One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden. The work, created over a period of several months in West Yorkshire and Buckinghamshire, comprises a series of 'threads' or strands. Each thread represents a short walk I made in the countryside around my home near Bingley, or near where I grew up in Great Missenden. I was delighted to be one of the five artists selected to create installations for the Pinpoint II exhibition, particularly as the gallery is so close to 'home'.

Below you can see some details of 'Linear Mapping', with the work of fellow artist Gizella Warburton on the wall and plinths behind. As I was hanging the work I loved to see the relationship between my own work and the other work in the gallery - the lines in Gizella's work in particular. In fact until I started to hang the work at the gallery I had no idea how it would look as I hadn't had a suitable space to test it. In general I was pleasantly surprised with the weight and light of the piece and I think it is something I would like to develop further.

The other exhibiting artists are: Clare Barber, Sarah Burgess, Robert Moon, Gizella K Warbuton.

Pinpoint runs until 28th February 2015 at One Church Street Gallery, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0AX, England. Open Thurs - Sat 11am - 4pm. Tel: 01494 868151

Workshop wandering

During my recent workshops I have met some delightful folk and enjoyed some really interesting discussions about process and practice. It is always an enormous pleasure and excitiement to see what people will do with a new process or material.

Firstly here are a few photos from my Stitch with Found Objects workshop with the lovely Grassington Embroiderers' Guild (plus a few folk from the Skipton EG too).

And then an Artist Talk and Cyanotype Taster workshop to coincide with the Pick & Mix exhibtion a The Dye House Gallery. It was great to have the run of the college workshops.

If you are interested in joining me for a workshop you can find out more here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

White labels

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in the basement at Bradford School of Arts & Media, experimenting in the ceramics workshop. As the snow was falling and the building became deserted I settled myself with a mug of tea, my notebook and a lump of porcelain clay. I was in my element. I found it intriguing to be working with a different material, like speaking a different language somehow. A material that has a memory and 'remembers how you handle it'; a material that can be chalky like plaster or translucent like skin.

Rolled, turned, rolled and turned.
Smoothed and re-rolled.
Cut to size.
A series of labels,
numbered and dated,
from smooth white porcelain.

I have loved working with the porcelain and learning about how it behaves. This weekend I added the finishing touches with a little blueprint. The porcelain labels will form the finishing touches for my installation 'Linear Mapping', part of the Pinpoint II exhibition, which I hang this week.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Final draft

As promised here are a few photos of the final installation of 'Draft' for the Pick & Mix exhibition. You can find more images on my Facebook page and more details about the exhibition here.

Exhibition runs until 18th February 2015 at The Dye House Gallery, Bradford College, BD7 1AY

Saturday, 10 January 2015


Last week saw the culmination of a long running project and the hanging of a challenging and ambitious piece that concludes the work. With the high levels of stress associated with trying to complete a difficult piece on time I suppose it was inevitable I would succumb to the classic post-project cold/flu. The plus side of this being a couple of days to reflect on the project before the exhibition opens next week.

The Bradford Textile Archive is held at Bradford College, West Yorkshire. It houses a wide range of textiles, sample books, ledgers and books relating to the textile industry in Bradford and also items specific to the College's long history of textile education, such as student work books. As a lecturer at Bradford College I am lucky enough to have regular access to the archive and last year based a project on the use of archives in creative practice. As luck would have it, around the same time archivist Helen Farrar was putting together an Arts Council bid for an exhibition called Pick & Mix. For the exhibition 22 artists and makers (including my friend Claire Wellesley-Smith) were invited to respond to the archive, creating work across a range of media.

My own work took inspiration from the contents of one brown archive box, which represents the working life of Bradford textile designer and former student Mr George Arnold Stead. The documents represent his personal record of designs created during a lifetime in textiles. The box also contains mementos and pamphlets from the Listers Mill.

I chose to interpret a 7 metre length of Stead's point paper designs as a ‘ghost’ of the original, stripped of its original meaning as a technical weave document. Working with tracing paper and cross stitch I started to map out the designs. Using stitch references the largely forgotten manufacture of sewing and embroidery threads in Bradford, of which Lister’s was a world leader before the 1930’s.

The mammoth task of stitching the work took much longer than I realised. I worked almost non-stop during Christmas do complete it. Most definitely a very slow act of making...

...the final stitch (above) but not the end of making. Part way through making the stitched piece I realised it would work well as a negative for cyanotype. So I created a partner piece in silk, capturing the ghost of the blocks of pattern and stitched details.  It was slightly nerve wracking creating such a big  blueprint but fortunately it worked out pretty well.

The final step was hanging the work, called 'Draft'.

More images to come once the exhibition opens next week. Pick & Mix runs from 13th January until 18th February 2015 at the Dye House Gallery, Lister Building, Bradford College, Carlton Street, Bradford, BD7 1AY.


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