For as long as I can remember I have been working with fabric and thread. These skills were passed down by my paternal grandmother who didn’t always appreciate my efforts, especially when I deconstructed my clothes and soft furnishings to see how they were made.
Things have changed since those early days but I still love to explore and experiment with textiles. I use them to tell stories about my life, produce commission pieces for other artists and teach other people the skills that I learned as a child. My work combines traditional techniques with digital embroidery and sculptural elements, transforming them into textile drawings and objects.
The show has a mix of galleries and traders spread across three halls which can be a bit overwhelming when you first visit. This year’s show was definitely the best I have seen for a couple of years. Here are just a few of my favourite galleries and pieces.
Having worked with Ruth Singer on her exhibition Emotional Repair at Gawthorpe Hall earlier this year I was excited to see new pieces from Criminal Quilts.
Criminal Quilts is an art and archives project, crafted and researched by artist Ruth Singer in partnership with Staffordshire Record Office. Ruth has been working with these images since 2012 and over the last year has been Artist in Residence at the Record Office, researching and creating artworks inspired by images of female criminals who were photographed in Stafford Prison from 1877 to 1915. These pictures provide a compelling glimpse into the lives of around 500 women imprisoned for crimes such as drunkenness and theft, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which Ruth has been researching along with a team of volunteers.
You can view more images from this amazing project on Ruth’s website.
The City & Guilds Gallery
There are so many talented emerging makers graduating from courses across the UK and it was great to see some exiting new pieces from this year’s gallery.
Emma Astill is a textile designer working with digital print and mixed media. Her work was really interesting and different.
Distorting DNA is a collection that is both aesthetically alluring yet taboo in its concept and presence. My interest in Criminology and Forensic Science became the starting point to my final collection. Within my textile studies, I aim to create conceptual starting points that lead to interesting and unusual outcomes.
Madeleine Gale is a textile designer who loves to work with colour and her stand immediately caught my eye. She has been selected as one of the five UK finalists for the 2018 Quilter’s Guild Student Bursary award. Here is an image from her ‘Rakugaki’ collection.
I’ve always appreciated the work that goes into any quilt, I’ve not made many quilts myself. I find the whole thing a bit daunting and I don’t have the largest studio to make bigger pieces! The Modern Quilts Gallery always showcases some amazing pieces with a contemporary twist.
It wouldn’t be a post about quilts if I didn’t include my favourite shape to use, hexagons. I’ve always loved how they tessellate to create different patterns large and small. My first piece of English Patchwork used hexagons to create a flower pin cushion so I have a fondness form hexagons in quilting.
After months of hard work my exhibition Archive & Other Stories is ready to deliver to Whitby Museum next week. The exhibition is called Archive & Other Stories and has been two years in the making.
“My practice uses fabric and thread to tell stories, my aim in working with Whitby Museum was to interpret their collections in a different way. Each piece from the exhibition tells a story about my life, using pieces from the museum’s archive as a reference point.”
I’m lucky to work with a fantastic photographer, Mat Dale. I’ve been working with him for the last three years and his style of photography really compliments my work. Here are a few of the images from the collection.
The exhibition brings together a collection of new and reinterpreted works inspired by the museum and the Whitby coastline. There will be a launch event at 1.00pm on Saturday 15 September where you can tour the exhibition and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake with me.
It’s been a busy week in the studio, working on my pieces for Whitby Museum and doing lots of project admin. If you follow me on social media you will have been following my progress on the project so I thought I would share something else with you this week.
I’ve been making and collecting pin cushions for a few years now and my obsession is getting worse! There will also be some pin cushions in my exhibition, Archive & Other Stories.
I was given a beautiful pin box in a bag of fabric and haberdashery about 10 years ago. Around the same time I was asked to teach a patchwork workshop for Buns & Roses WI. Having never done patchwork before, I was shown how to make a a hexagon pin cushion, I was hooked!
Since then I have made so many hexagon pin cushions for myself, as gifts for friends and colleagues and as part of my practice.
I’m making some memorial pin cushions for my Whitby exhibition and I’ve been selecting pieces from my vintage fabric collection.
There will also be a hexagon pin cushion as a tribute to the start of my obsession.
For the last few weeks I’ve been working the the wonderful Ruth Singer as part of Emotional Repair, a stunning exhibition of narrative textiles which features a series of 46 pin cushions dedicated to her aunt.
As part of the project I delivered a series of textile workshops across Burnley. Throughout the project I worked on my own piece of fabric which I’m planning to make into a pin cushion as a memory of the workshops.
I’m on the final push in the studio getting my pieces ready for Whitby Museum which need to be delivered at the end of July. It’s been a hectic couple of months, fitting in studio sessions around my busy teaching schedule.
This week has been a particular struggle as I have a shoulder injury which limits my movement and ability to hold an embroidery hoop. There’s been lots of trips to hospital and the doctor to try and resolve the problem but lets not focus on that!
I’d forgotten what it’s like to just be at home in the studio, watching murder mysteries and stitching by hand an machine, it almost feels self indulgent!
My studio boards are full of diagrams and notes for the exhibition which launches in September. I’ve booked in time with my photographer and started planning the framing with the brilliant Artco in Leeds.
There’s so much to do when you’re working on a large-scale project so admin has been an evening task when I’m too tired to stitch!
My work includes hand and machine stitch which tells the story of my life through objects from Whitby Museum and it’s amazing collection. This week I’m working on the pieces inspired by the narwhal skeleton, the historic samplers and portraiture.
I’ve been rust dyeing vintage linen fabrics for my narwhal bones with varying degrees of success. These rusted metal fragments from Whitby’s West Pier didn’t go according to plan.
I’ve had much more success with my portraiture, here is my Henry Freeman portrait inspired by my Grandma and her fascination with this portrait by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.
A new challenge has been working with a larger hoop that needs the fabric stitching to it then turning to create tension. I’m working in to a large piece of vintage embroidered fabric to create a new piece for the exhibition inspired by my grandma.
You can find out more about the project and get sneaky peeks by following me on social media. Please click the links in the sidebar.
It’s been such a long time since my last blog post in May, where does the time go?
I’ve had such a busy time teaching workshops at Leeds Central Library, Heydays at The West Yorkshire Playhouse and a new project with Artlink. It’s exciting to see what people create each week, working with fabric, thread, paint and paper. My students are always an inspiration for my own practice.
My huge commission for The Grief Series has also come to an end, it’s been a big part of my life for a few months and it’s great to see how the project has come together. You can see more on the project’s Instagram feed.
Here are a few images from my work with the project.
After a few days in Hamburg with my husband it’s full steam ahead with my work and I’m now spending more time in the studio, there’s lots to get ready for my Whitby Museum exhibition which opens in September.
You can find out more by following me on social media. Just click the links in the sidebar.
It’s been a busy few weeks in the studio, creating samples and finished pieces for The Grief Series and preparing to exhibit at Saltaire Arts Trail this weekend. After spending two years planning and coordinating Kirkstall Art Trail, it’s been an interesting change of pace to take part in an art trail.
I’m exhibiting my work inspired by the archive at Sunny Bank Mills at location two on the Arts Trail map. The Art Rooms is a great venue near to Salt’s Mill and Tourist Information on Victoria Road. I’ll be exhibiting with resident Artist Jackie Al- Sammaraie, Dan Booth, Sarah Hardy-Box, Marianthi Lainas, Amelia Phythian and Cait Walker.
You can pick up a copy of the guide for the bargain price of £1.00 from lots of venues around Saltaire. over the Arts Trail weekend.
I’ve been creating some new pieces to sell and cataloguing my samples for visitors to look through over the weekend. I will also be selling tote bags inspired by the archive.
I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow artists and chatting all things textile with visitors to the event. If you’re planning a visit to Saltaire come and say hello.
I’ve been updating my CV recently after some projects ended and its been four years since I started working with Ellie Harrison on The Grief Series. With part six underway I wanted to share my progress.
Where do our memories of the dead live? In sacred spaces like gravestones, or aisle 22 of Tescos? On someone’s Facebook page or Twitter feed? Ellie Harrison is on a month-long journey to find out.
Travelling between sites of personal remembrance, Ellie will be stopping at arts centres, museums, beer gardens and maybe even the occasional service station. You are invited to embark on your own journey to spend some time reflecting. Add your memories to our audio archive or embroidered map, have a cuppa and spend some time exploring a caravan full of hidden treasures. The caravan is free and open to people of all ages.
The caravan is being repaired and refurbished at Open Source Arts, a fantastic creative project space in Kirkstall. It seems like such a long time ago since we bought the caravan and she’s looking very different now.
It was wonderful to visit the caravan last Friday and see how the refurbishment is going. The team have worked so hard on the design and build for the caravan and it was great to start discussing the maps and other textile elements for the project.
I’ve also been working on a piece about my grandma for the space which will fit inside one of the drawers. It’s based on the project Archive which I began a few years ago.
My largest commission for the caravan is a series of embroidered maps which show the different places along the journey. Myself, Bethany and Ellie are all fascinated by old Ordnance Survey maps. It was great to discuss our ideas for each individual map and finalise some creative decisions.
To follow the progress of the project you can follow The Grief Series on Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow me on social media, links in the sidebar.