My love of textiles began at a very early age, influenced by my grandmother, a weaver and embroiderer, who had cupboards full of natural fabrics and exquisite needlework. I learnt to use a sewing machine and was making my own clothes when I was 9 years old. Being brought up in Lancashire, we were surrounded by a combination of textile mills and beautiful, wild moorlands. I remember the towns being quite dark, with enormous mills overshadowing the terraced houses, making the contrast of the surrounding countryside even more impactful.
The first business I set up was designing and making hand tufted rugs. My ‘studio’ was in an unheated garage with no natural light. To keep warm, I used to wear a black balaclava, cut off gloves and a big black jacket. I managed to scare the postman a few times!
Commissions included a rug for a Contemplation Centre at a Rotterdam Hospital and a rug for the Managing Director’s suite, British Rail, Birmingham.
I now have a lovely warm, bright studio to work in. My favourite textile machine at the moment is the needle punch, which has a bed of 2,000 needles. It blends and distresses layers of fabric in very exciting and sometimes unpredictable ways, as I learnt by trial and error! Experimentation is what I most enjoy.
Working with architects and interior designers, I make large scale art panels for interiors, some of which are also sound absorbing acoustic panels. I also make screens, blinds and soft furnishings.
Inspiration for designs is usually taken from nature, particularly the play of light and shadow on surfaces, and degradation of materials. Fabrics are hand dyed or digitally printed using my photographic imagery before being constructed on the needle punch.
I tend to ‘sketch’ with fabrics to develop the composition.