My embroidery is a creative response to the transient nature of the places we work and live in.
I create art to connect with others and my practice challenges the distinction between fine art and textiles. Thematic research is underpinned by the constant study of nature and intercultural influences. Opportunities to cultivate new and diverse forms of collaboration and cooperation is vital if we are to challenge current global concerns. A hybrid world where emerging communities come together.
Embroidered lichen, moss and earth
I originally trained in Fashion Design, but after a brief spell working for a Clothing Design Company based in Camden, London I decided to study Textile Design at Nottingham & Trent University where I specialised in embroidery. In 1995 I started my own business as a freelance Textile Designer, producing embroidered pieces for the British Crafts space at Liberty and designing Home Furnishings for John Lewis. During this time, I was also travelling widely throughout the UK exhibiting at art venues such as Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens, in Oxfordshire. Contemporary Textiles at the Landmark Arts Trust in Teddington and Living Crafts at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
During 2002 I was given the opportunity to work and travel across the East and West Coast of Japan during a British Crafts Promotion for Takashimaya. It was a great honour to be exhibiting with such a respected institution and we were accompanied by the Princess Diana Althorp Exhibition which was an innovative overseas project supported by her family and the Memorial Fund. At that time, I was incorporating elements of bamboo, Kozo fibre and washi paper into my work combined with embroidered flowers that had been dried and gathered from my garden.
I an now studying for an MA in Textile Design at Norwich University of the Arts.
Embroidered lichen with fern (2019)
The bees piece was inspired by a visit to a friends hive in the piece of SSI meadow near to where I live in Norfolk. Sadly two of his hives unexpectedly died last winter. He thinks it is due to climate change and use of pesticides.
Immersive research helps to refine ideas and explore the materiality of each piece. Visiting locations whilst conducting primary research is critical to enable a speculative approach centred around place, flora and fauna. ‘Moonshine Beetle’, below was a personal two-year research project that I carried out last year whilst studying The Brecks, the flint capital of the UK in prehistoric times and an area in the heart of the East of England. This species of beetle is classified as Red Data Book (RDB) 1 – endangered and highly vulnerable to extinction. It has a unique and specialised habitat requirement of sparsely vegetated dry, sandy or gravelly soil such as heathland or sand dunes. The word Breck is medieval, meaning an area of sandy heathland and gorse that was broken up and then allowed to revert to wilderness and is home to unique Pingo Lakes which are caused by collapsing dome-shaped mounds of soil covering a large core of ice.
The embroidered trees represent the Pine Tree Rows which are also indigenous to this area and were originally planted in 1914 as hedges, but now fully grown, twisted and contorted by the wind are a distinctive feature of this area.
Silk Dupion knotted & embroidered with earth bowl & lichen (2020)
Moonshine Beetle – The Brecks (2018)
Hand-made paper layers
I am currently facilitating an interdisciplinary collaboration with The John Innes Centre in Norwich. It forms part of the research for my M.A. in Textile Design at Norwich University of the Arts. Dr Anne Edwards and Dr Abhimanyu Sarkar are kindly assisting me with a practical study of a drought resistant legume called Grass Pea. By utilising the waste or residue from the harvest of this crop I am looking at ways of creating ‘living textile surfaces’ such as hand-made paper, bowls, and yarn. My methodology is simple and reflects the whole systems approach of adding just heat and water. Raising the value of this crop would improve the lives of many rural communities living across India where subsistence farmers rely on this for vital food supply.
Grass Pea paper bowl (2020)
Hand-made paper from Grass Pea crop (2020)
Over the last two and a half decades. I have constantly referred to the theme of ‘recreation through preservation’. Recreation is defined as the act of making something and preservation is to make lasting, to maintain or preserve. I am lucky enough to have a small protected ancient woodland near to where I live. I visit frequently to escape and walk the circular path for my ‘thinking time’. Charles Darwin had one in his Kent garden flanked by a row of Oak trees and he referred to it as his ‘thinking path’. This deep connection between process and material symbolises my practice and is extremely precious to me. It has defined who I am for a very long time now and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Embroidered Lavender with Gypsophilia (2017)
Embroidered Lavender with fern (2019)
Grass Pea bowl and cellulose yarn paper knit
Memories of Place