Textile art enthusiast, lover of wild places, day-dreamer, fresh-air freak, responsibility-for-the-world-taker, cat-lover, list-maker, sailor, injustice-challenger, water-baby, social worker, traveller, stitch fanatic, mountain walker, word-lover, fortunate friend, dawn-chorus listener, skier, big sister, colour enthusiast, country-girl, organiser, adoring auntie, night-owl, rule-breaker, book-worm, explorer, freedom-seeker, silence-lover.
A Textile Journey
Fabric always fascinated me. One of my early memories is standing next to the table where my mother was sewing, with the old singer sewing machine at my head height, and being allowed to turn the handle while she steered the material and gave instructions. We grew up with no TV or ‘passive entertainment’. We entertained ourselves, running free in the woods and fields on the edge of Dartmoor, climbing trees, making rafts and watching badgers. When it rained, books fired my imagination. And we made things. In earlier years my parents ran a small free-holding in the Shropshire hills, where they were more or less self-sufficient. They could turn their hands to anything, from raising chickens to building dry-stone walls. For me, this self-sufficient approach to life found its’ outlet in art and textiles. The pleasure of making things has stayed with me for life.
In later years, alongside my professional life, I dabbled with various creative activities – drawing classes, life painting classes, silk painting, batik, mosaic etc. It wasn’t until I started on City and Guilds Stitched Textiles courses that these apparently diverse interests finally found a focus. In 1999 I went on a one-year City and Guilds Textile Decoration course at Northbrook College, taught by Kim Thittichai. We exhibited alongside the C&G Stitched Textile students, and I signed up for the two-year ‘Part One’ course there and then. This was when my enthusiasm for stitched textiles really started to take off.
After a long gap (enforced by life/work demands) I signed up for the Diploma in Stitched Textiles (Embroidery) at Missenden Abbey, taught by Janet Edmonds. This was a wonderful three years of camaraderie and creative challenge. Together with a lovely group of fellow students, we talked, laughed, learned, explored and created. The subject of my main project was rocks and fossils, triggered by my brother finding his old fossil collection when we were clearing out the family home.
At the end of the course I was delighted and honoured to win the Gold Medal for Excellence in Stitched Textiles. Since then I’ve started on a new journey, and it’s exciting to think that I still have absolutely no idea where it will lead.
In 2015, together with four of my fellow-students on the Diploma course, we formed a new exhibiting group ‘FIVE’. We started by exhibiting at The Studio Gallery at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery in May 2016, followed by an exhibition in Milton Keynes. We tend to have several years working to a fairly broad theme in preparation for a joint exhibition. Our first two exhibitions were based on the theme of ‘World Textiles’. Currently we’re working on the theme of ‘A sense of Place’. There is more information about the group on the FIVE page.
Over the last few years I have also taken part in Worthing Artists Open Houses, and other exhibitions such as Ramster and The Thread. As I approach retirement, the balance of my working life is gradually shifting a little, from ‘the day job’ towards textiles. Who knows where it will lead. ‘Watch this space’, as they say!