When I inherited my mother’s textile archive, I cleared one of our rooms and my mum moved in with me. Having always sketched, I gradually began to work with her amazing collection of silks, hand-made papers and threads. I didn’t want to stitch—mum did that. So I began to bond multiple layers of fabrics and other materials together. During my work, I am in dialogue both with the poems that often form the starting point and with the layers of the past. For commissions, I work in collaboration with my clients throughout the design process, choosing together the dimensions, fabrics, colours and words on which the piece will be based.
Slow Day Dawning
Slow Day Dawning, a textile and mixed-media commission, was created to hang in a therapist’s room. It is based on my own poem of the same name and affirms the return of dawn after dark, hope after despair. Early one morning while it was still dark, I woke feeling anxious about a young friend. I went outside and stood for a couple of hours in a wide field waiting for dawn to come, watched by confused sheep. It takes a long time for the sun to rise, just as sometimes it takes a long time in our lives for new hope and direction to emerge.
This Is My Past
Based on patterns in frozen puddles and the poem, 'This is my past', by James Fenton, this piece uses hand-made papers, leaves, words and threads to explore the necessity of coming to terms with one’s past. The poem ends: "This is my past / which I will not discard. / This is the ideal. / This is hard". Some of the leaves I have used are no more than skeletons but the patterns that both they and the ice create are beautiful and unique. The piece hangs in a therapy room outside Paris.
The green time of the church’s year and field patterns in the parish were the inspiration for this stole, commissioned by a local clergywoman for her ordination. It is designed for Ordinary Time in the Anglican calendar, when there are no major festivals, but when ordinary growing happens. The stream at the bottom signifies living water; the bright yellow slash of colour represents RS Thomas's poem, 'Bright Field', reminding her not to miss those sudden moments of beauty and glory. There are many small offcuts of silk in this garment: nothing is wasted, however small or inconsequential it seems.