An Intimate Relationship
When the idea strikes, it’s a truly magical moment. Thoughts, feelings, and inspiration combine in an harmonious whole. It feels like a bolt of lightning has struck and I just know what I am trying to achieve is coming together. Everything is working: the energy, the spirit, and the emotion combine simultaneously to allow me to begin the creation of a work of art.
Having the courage to begin a piece is something I always forget about at the end of a work once it is completed and the work truly sings. Unremembered is the pain, the emotional struggle, the discipline and the concentration to work hour after hour on a tiny detail or on a component for a wall hanging. The relationship between myself and my work is intense and all-encompassing.
The starting point, that moment when I begin a work of art, is crucial. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right. It’s difficult to explain but delaying starting by a day or two can make all the difference as to how the piece progresses and evolves. Waiting for the right moment is such an important part of my creative process. I need the time to think thoroughly about what I am about to do, the time to hold the idea in my mind’s eye until I feel confident and comfortable with it. Then, and only then, it is the time to begin.
My working practice involves different stages. I always begin with colouring my natural fabrics and yarns. This is the dye stage. This is where the relationship starts to build between the textile and myself. This is a hugely exciting part of the whole process of creation.
Drawing from within my memory of colour combinations and a little bit of happenstance, I build a body of fabric: silks, wools, linens and cottons in contrasting colours and soft hues which bleed into one another. Just as the painter mixes oil paints to create their palette, I create my palette in diverse fabrics and colours. I am the painter who paints with fabric.
The series of actions which follow continues and deepens the relationship I am having with the work. Sometimes it’s hand embroidery, sometimes it’s machine embroidery and sometimes it is weaving. Sometimes it’s an amalgamation of all three which is needed to create the textured surfaces. Moving from the sewing machine to seeing the work on the wall, I assess where I am at and how I feel about the work’s progression. This is the intuitive stage when the relationship is at its strongest. I feel my way forward by listening to my heart.
My process of art and craft is a concentrated, complex and time-consuming practice. The working process is a constant re-evaluation of my decisions. I hear the voice of doubt speak into my ear but then remember to listen to my heart. I know if something is right, I feel it deep within. I know that, after all my struggles, I have mastered the art of creation.