Traditional techniques, padded sculptural contouring, using recycled and unusual materials establishes a rich surface tapestry of texture, pattern and light. Each textile is unique and organically grown over time.
TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES: Applique, Patchwork and Quilting. Early works were machine stitched but I now enjoy hand stitching as a more organic approach. Dressmaking techniques enables fabric to be manipulated, with padded structure and layering.
Example of basic applique where simple shape is cut and stitched to background.''Sea on Sand'' from the childhood nostalgia series.
Example of more complex applique, with layered shapes cut and stitched to form design. ''Caravan'' from the childhood nostalgia series.
Example of padded applique.''Old Ted'' was created from applique parts, an opening created underside, stuffed with wadding and stitched to close. From the childhood nostalgia series.
Example of traditional dressmaking techniques used in the fabric manipulation (box pleats) of the petticoats creating volume under dress of ''Climb inside''. From the childhood nostalgia series.
Example of traditional dressmaking techniques, with padded shoulders and pleated dress stitched to create volume. ''Girl'' from the childhood nostalgia series.
Example of quilting, where two or more fabrics sandwich a layer of wadding, anchored in place with a stitch. Here, wool crosses quilt layers together. ''The poor laws, these are the things'' from the childhood nostalgia series.
A SCULPTURAL APPROACH: Padded and excavated cavities provide depth and sculptural density. 'Tomato', 'Jesus 2', 'Mother and Child', 'Vibrant Buddha Temple', Girl 1' and 'Old Ted' are examples of 3D contouring.
'Tomato' is a great example of padded structure with an excavated inner core. The bridge between the two is highlighted with small light reflective buttons and sequins, contrasting to the bejewelled hollow beneath.
The large padded patchwork surround (vintage curtains from my childhood) provides a 3D structure to inset the flat face of Jesus. An abstract interpretation of deep set church windows. 3D flower heads surrounding the face enriches the depth of the stone walls.
The 3D structures of 'Mother and Child' were created using traditional dressmaking techniques, with individual parts created, hand stitched together and then padded with wadding to create volume and depth against a flat backdrop of patchwork. The intimacy of the union between a mother and her child is further celebrated as they peep out from the volume of the 3D hood. Light reflective sequins and beads provide a flat plateau within the padded structure.
'Vibrant Indian Temple' is created from individual parts packed solidly to give the 3D contouring of the structure, with recesses embellished just as lavishly with light reflective beads and sequins. The richly patterned fabrics add to the intensity of the contouring. Flat panels of rich brown draws the viewer in, doorways to an inner calm, to seek refuge from the intensity of the Indian heat outside.
Example of padded structure in 'Girl' with the shoulders gathered and padded to create great volume. Traditional dressmaking skills were used to provide a dramatic contouring against a flat background embellished in buttons. Photography highlights the play of light across the surface casting shadows, creating real depth to the structure of the girl.
Individual parts of 'Old Ted' were created, stuffed with wadding, layered with wool jumpers for additional depth, and hand stitched onto the flat background, providing real solidity to the structure of the bear. Fabric manipulation of the surface texture (pulling and creating holes in the mohair wool) adds further depth.
RECYCLING OFF-CUTS: Effective in creating panels of colour and texture, layering for additional depth. Frayed edges promotes a wealth of natural texture. A compact colour palette can be achieved by densely stitching short fabrics (a traditional rug making technique).
Fabric off-cuts are chosen, strips of colour created and roughly hand stitched, small strips layered onto larger to create a density rich in texture and colour. A great way to produce depth of colour for seasonal works. Leaving edges raw creates natural texture in the fraying of fabrics. 'Pastries Folded High to Rise'
Off-cut panels were chosen, layered and hand stitched to create a rich colour palette of blue, brown and black for 'Abstract Teddy Bears'. Leaving edges free to fray embellishes textural density.
Off-cuts from a number of works were used in 'Summer Swatches', with colour combo's created, layered and anchored at the top section of each swatch, allowing layers to stand proud of the flat background. Roughly cut to promote natural texture in frayed edges.
The background fire in 'Girl' was created from scraps of fabric collected over time to produce a dense colour palette of reds, purple, blue and gold using a technique of 'tatty-matting'' or 'clippy-matting' from the North East of England, hand stitching scraps to a flat background, raising the surface height to create a beautiful contouring.
Fabric off-cuts were used in the creation of this abstract 'Spring Garden', with colour combo's hand stitched and layered to build depth of colour. Long lengths overlay the entire structure for visual effect. Note the natural frayed edges which provides a rich textural quality. Additional texture was created in the pleats and folds when joining the pompom fringe, creating folds within the surface, casting shadow.
'Abstract Beach' was created from fabric off-cuts hand stitched into panels of colour, with edges left free to fray. Panels are layered and hand stitched to create a rich density of texture and colour. Very effective when building an abstract textile.
3D FLOWER HEADS: Individual petals hand stitched to a padded applique head. Petals are created from machining two pieces of fabric right side together with an opening to turn out. Excess fabric left around the stitched edge when cut provides the bulk necessary to give structure to the cavity. Hand stitching petals around the flower head provides artistic licence to create individual form. Embellished with light reflective beads and sequins. Beautifully sculptural.
Example from 'Yellow Sunflowers', where individual petals are machined, cut, turned out and hand stitched in place to form unique flowers. The layering of petals around the central padded head creates a dramatic impact upon the textural quality of the overall textile surface. Embellished with tiny glass beads. A colour palette of yellows, gold, browns and greens.
Example from 'Blue Sunflowers', with a colour palette of grey and blue created from individual flower petals, layered and hand stitched around the central padded head, encrusted in large light reflective beads. The sculptural quality of the textile provides real depth for the viewer to explore.
Example from 'Green Sunflowers'. The composition of overlapping individual flower heads provides depth within the surface, inviting the viewer to look beyond, into the sequinned background of stems. Flower heads are encrusted with sequins, large beads and jewels. Petals were painted to provide structure to the open weave of the fabric. A rich colour palette of green, brown, blue and gold.
Example from 'White Roses'. Each petal is individually machined, allowing for variation in size and shape. Hand stitched around a central bud, each rose is unique, allowing for variation in maturity. A delicate colour palette of ivory, green and silver.
Example from 'Mother and Child'. Abstract flower heads created from a gold organza adorn the altar in the foreground. Embellished with sequins to add light and enhance textural structure.
Example from 'Angel Wings', with wings adorned in 3D rose heads. Petals are hand stitched around a single bud. The variation within the tone of the fabric allows for additional depth and maturity. A dusky pink colour palette with ivory lace in the background.
SCULPTURAL CONTOURING: Layering fabrics to create volume and depth is a simple yet effective way to contour a surface, anchored with a stitch, embellished in beads and sequins to enhance. Naturally frayed fabrics provides an elegant fragility.
Example from 'Abstract Flower Design B'. The fabric cover of an old stereo speaker was used to create this 3D flower head, with roughly cut circles varying in size, layered and anchored in place using red sequins. A simple yet effective way to sculpt and enrich the surface.
Example from 'Angel Wings'. The formation of a rose is created through the layering of circles, varied in size and shape to create a diversity within the structure. The pale pink Indian silk has a delicate silver pattern which enhances the design. Tiny glass beads anchor and shape layers of petals making up the structure of the rose.
Example from 'Spring Garden'. A panel of layered off-cuts, roughly hand stitched to anchor individual panels together, provides a rich density to this abstract garden. Frayed edges provide additional texture in contrast to other flat panels within the textile. A great way to create rich colour density.
Example from 'Summer Swatches'. Individual colour combinations were created using fabric off-cuts, layered and anchored with silk threads, promoting depth and movement within the design. Frayed edges promote natural texture. A rich colour palette of reds, greens, golds, orange, purple and blues captures the intense heat of our summers.
Example from 'Abstract Teddy Bears'. Individual panels were created from fabric off-cuts, roughly cut and hand stitched, edges free to promote textural fraying. The combination of colours (blues, greys, browns and golds), patterns and textures provides a rich density, evoking nostalgia for beloved childhood toys.
Example from 'Abstract Beach'. Fabric off-cuts were collected over time and combinations created according to their size, shape, colour (gold, silver, blue, green, brown), pattern and texture. The layering of individual combinations, roughly hand stitched and promoting the fraying of edges for additional texture, creates a density and textural contouring.
USING WOOL: Enhances texture and creates volume. Knitting and crochet feature as both background and embellishment. Wool jumpers are used in the layered formation of flower heads to contour an area. French knitting (using a bobbin to create tubular lengths) and creating a variety of pompoms (volumes vary according to the type of wool used) take me back to my early childhood.
Wool possesses great textural qualities and is a versatile medium. French knitting (creating a tubular structure by crocheting using a bobbin) provides a 3D element to add volume to an otherwise flat surface. The structure and depth of wool varies and provides a rich diversity within the tubular structure, as can be seen here in 'Autumn 1', enhancing the flat applique patchwork.
Creating large wool pompoms reminds me of my childhood and is an effective way to enhance a textile. 'Springtime 1' has a huge pompom fringe surrounding the flat body of the textile. Pompoms are layered when added. The diversity of wools used enriches the structure and depth of the fringe. A fabulous way to create a rich seasonal colour palette.
Example from 'Autumnal 1'. Hollow tubular lengths are created by french knitting (using a bobbin). Textures depend upon the texture and thickness of wools used. Effective in outlining areas of interest, adding depth and colour.
Example from 'Summertime'. Areas are enhanced using knotted structures (abstract french knots) created from multi-coloured hairy thick wools. Provides real depth against areas decorated with light reflective sequins.
Example from 'Springtime 1'. A huge pompom fringe was created from large pompoms, layered when applied to create substantial depth. Fabulous seasonal colour palette. The natural movement within the layers provides additional depth.
The structure of wool varies greatly and provides a rich material to enhance flat textile surfaces. 'The Poor Laws' uses contrasting wools in decorative hand embroidery and original poetry, providing a layering of emotional content. Here, wool crosses present loving kisses (red) and tombstones (black).
ORIGINAL POETRY: Poetry features in both collections, adding an emotional layering to works, hand embroidered in wool and silk threads. Viewers are transported back to my own childhood, my love of old nursery rhymes, taking tea with Old Ted, enjoying the Easter parade in the North East of England, baking tasty treats with Grandmamma.
'Spring Garden' takes the viewer back to my childhood with 'Easter Sandals': 'Standing proud, little jewels adorn the washing line, waiting for me to set them free. They leap and twirl like acrobats of the high trapeze. Silver threads catch every bit of light that comes my way, and I hear them giggle in anticipation of the day. The hunt for brightly patterned eggs and church bands parading through South Shields, with banners high and trumpets loud. So it was in my day. As vivid and refreshing...
'I miss the lively hearing aids' evokes a scene of childhood nostalgia in 'Pastries Folded High To Rise': 'The buzzing of bees and a lazy bluebottle hum a distant tune as sunshine sparkles and glints it's way into every single room. Best china sits in regal splendour 'mongst a thick perfume as, pink cheeked with oven heat, we take our seats to feast upon the delights of a lovely afternoon.'
Snippets of a poem serve well to set the scene for 'Summertime 1', taken from 'Pastries Folded High To Rise': 'The buzzing of bees and a lazy bluebottle hum a distant tune as sunshine sparkles and glints it's way into every single room'.
'Autumn 2' captures the harsh beauty of the season in 'Skeletal Frames': 'Skeletal frames take on the shape of old bones, brittle and cold. Naked now, fully exposed'. Hand embroidered in a blue silk thread, providing stark contrast to the brown colour palette of the textile.
'Teddy Bears' Picnic' transports the viewer back to my childhood with snippets from 'A Spirit Untamed': 'Smarties in a little box. Soft pink toes and button nose. Baking mud pies under summer skies. Building blocks in bobble socks. Carrot tops and flowerpots...' Poetry is hand embroidered onto patchwork panels running up the textile from the bottom, layered across brown and brightly patterned fabrics representing the bears and children at play.
'Climb Inside' invites the viewer to 'Curl up, lay your head and slide into favourite old nursery rhymes, tattered now and tired. Aged, faded with time. Saturated with smiles. Return to your child.' Hand embroidered using a mustard yellow wool on a stretch blue denim panel (the fabric reminiscent of child fashions of the seventies).
UNUSUAL TEXTURES: The lining of an old cushion, partly disintegrated, forms a natural tree sculpture in 'Buddha'. Disintegrating layers of fabric are used to create the stem structure in 'Abstract Flower Design B'. Snagged and frayed fabrics express neglect and poverty in 'The Children's Act'. The erosion of a synthetic rubber used in 'Tomato' is symbolic of the ageing process. Cat hair creates 3D sculptural flower heads in 'Abstract Flower Design E'. And 3D silk flowers represent the crown of thorns in 'Jesus 1'.
The background fabric of 'Buddha' was created from the lining of an old cushion, naturally degraded over time and sculpted, creating the tree under which Buddha sits.
'Abstract Flower Design B' was created from the inner lining of an old cushion pad. It's layering produced a beautiful structure upon which to embellish flower heads. The open weave of the fabric and the threadbare padding attached to it, with naturally frayed edges, brings an ethereal fragility in contrast to the lush velvet background fabric.
Laddered and snagged silk perfectly captures the essence of abuse and neglect of children in 'The Poor Laws'. Individual fabrics were chosen for the damage to their structures to express the horrors children suffered throughout history and the laws that have been created to protect them as a result.
The outer skin of 'Tomato' was created from an eroded synthetic rubber, the surface having peeled away over time, capturing the ageing process beautifully. Adds depth and diversity within the colour palette, and a contrast to the robust nature of the leather patchwork accompanying it.
'Abstract Flower Design E' uses cat hair to sculpt 3D flower heads, embellished with beads and sequins. A very effective and versatile material. My favourite.
3D silk flowers were a perfect choice in creating a crown of thorns for 'Jesus 1'. Thorns are replaced with silk rose heads, the stems twisted to form an intricate structure. Provides real depth and contrast to the flat textile.
RECYCLING: I am passionate about rejuvenating textiles no longer valued in our throw away society. Carboot sales, charity shops and donations from family and friends provide me with a wealth of possibilities. The crushed velvet curtains from my childhood can be seen in many works. Indian silks provide intricate detail to be used in embellishment. Wool knits provides density. Lace adds delicate detail. It is the accumulative effect of using a wide range of textiles and embellishment which gives my work it's unique quality with surfaces encrusted with beads, buttons, light reflective sequins and old jewels. Some textiles have been reworked and others organically grown over time.
Example from 'Abstract Flower Design B', where individual pink flower heads are encrusted with silver and gold sequins, adding depth to the flat surface. Tiny beads are threaded and anchored in place to provide a mobile addition to the contouring.
Example from 'Tomato', where the excavation of the 3D cavity is encrusted with beads, buttons and sequins. Details of structure are highlighted with light reflective sequins. Charity shops and car boot sales are great places to collect materials. My mother donated a lot of old buttons seen here.
Example from '3 Ages of Beach', where panels are encrusted with buttons of varying size and colour, overlapped for structure. Each panel represents an experience of presence. Charity shops and car boot sales are a great place to stockpile buttons and braid in order to create a colour palette of some depth.
'Green Buddha Temple' is an example of creatively using beautiful buttons and old jewels as a centre piece. Each Buddha has his own jewel adorning the head. The play of light upon the diamante is perfectly attuned to the essence of inner light in the Buddhist belief system.
'Jesus 1' uses an array of threaded wooden and metal beads, wool braids and pompoms, long lengths of fringing and frayed hessian strips to create the volume of the huge beard. Collecting materials over time allows an artist to create a treasure chest into which they can delve to produce something unique.
The gold halo of the child in 'Mother and Child' was created from a gold braid my Mother donated after she had finished knitting a tunic. Many layers of crochet and hand stitching were used to produced the depth you see here.