My work is inspired by the ever changing colours and textures of the natural environment. I build each piece from hand dyed silk , cotton scrim and other fibres. Surfaces are machine stitched and then hand stitched to add detail. A piece of work can take anything up to 2 months to complete.
Creating imagery based on personal experience, sketchbooks and photography is my passion.
Inspiration for Stubble Field
I took this photograph when the sun was going down over the field behind my house where I walk my dogs every day. The old rape seed plants had begun to regrow and were now dying back. The colours were startling and the stubble appeared a lilac grey. I was really struck by the field, a great many photographs and sketches ensued.
This is one of my sketches from the stubble field. I wanted to catch the warmth of the foliage and enhance the textural qualities of the stubble. I collaged the stubble to create depth. I do not copy my photographs, they serve to jog my memory and help me understand structure. I create a lot of my sketchbook work outside in situation.
Once I had thoroughly explored the colour, texture and composition in my sketchbook, I made a sample stitch sketch to see if I could create the effect I wanted. It is at this stage that often a piece will go no further. On this occasion I decided to alter the colour range from my sketchbook.
Firstly I need to dye scrim, silk threads, and fabrics in the colours I require. Then I lay them out on a piece of water-soluble film. I also use purchased wool, textured fabrics, fibres and silks. I do not copy the sketch exactly. I let the colours work with each other and the piece takes on its own life.
Laying Out Texture Detail
This detail shows how I break up the fibres and build up layers of colour. I try to create most of the texture in the lower half of the piece to create a sense of depth. Consideration has to be given to the size of each mark. I treat my textile work exactly the same as a painting, building surfaces and knocking back areas to create distance.
Beginning The Hand Stitching
Once the background has been established I cover it with another piece of water-soluble film and machine stitch over the entire surface with toned threads. The final stage is building up the textures further by hand stitch. When this has been completely done I dissolve the film in water and my image is established. This is the most exciting stage and it reminds me of watching a photograph appear when working in a darkroom.
Finished embroidery of Stubble Field
These images are from my sketchbooks. Working outdoors is a challenge in itself. I work quickly trying to catch the light and atmosphere, often completing the sketch back home in the studio. Exact detail is unimportant. I am involved with rhythm, colour and texture. These form the basis for further experimentation and abstraction.