I began working with Textiles in January 2011, and was soon hooked. I started on CityLit’s Textiles day course with Louise Baldwin, with additional ad hoc workshops at studios such as Art van Go in Knebworth. Although I draw, paint and print, I feel my main focus comes back to textural work – in fact all the disciplines feed into each other.
A lot of my work, in various media, is around Spurn. I have collected everything onto this page.
textiles2020, Worn, October 2023
textiles2020 held a group exhibition at Espacio Gallery in October 2023; I had four separate works included. Full details can be found on their website, www.textiles2020.com.
Beneath the stitches is an installation of eight deconstructed men’s jackets.
We use clothes to cover our bodies and hide our emotions as well as to project a persona. In this installation, I looked at what we decide not to reveal about ourselves, the emotions we try to keep hidden.
I repurposed men’s suit jackets and used colour and stitch to convey the various emotions. I used colours associated with feelings: red – lust, hate; orange – psychosis, suspicion; brown – illness; yellow – cowardice/fear; green – envy; blue – melancholy; purple – rage; black – corruption. The stitching nearer the centre, where the emotion is felt, is larger and more dynamic, and nearer the edge of the garment it is more subdued, more hidden. Two of the jackets were from charity shops, but I had a connection to the others: two of the hangings were from one of my husband’s suits, another was half a jacket from a late friend, given to me, with another jacket, when we celebrated Clive’s life; another had been blagged from Joe Allen, a bespoke tailor.
Donated men’s suiting, wool and thread; hand stitched
“It was consensual“
It was consensual, in the darkroom, featured three LBDs stitched in iridescent threads with remarks, usually off-the-cuff, made to women by men. During the exhibition a visitor suggested that I should put a whiteboard outside the room for visitors to add their own! These pieces evolved from my work with jackets.
Dresses from charity shops, iridescent paints and threads, recycled earrings. Hand painting, machine and hand stitch.
Baby boomer women will remember playing with cardboard dolls and dressing them in the latest fashions – paper clothes with little tabs to hold them on. This limited edition book harks back to that time, using beautiful fabrics as well as papers. Whilst I made everything in the books, my neighbour, Ava Clarke, aged 8, made many of the additional outfits.
Prism, Warped, April 2023
I had two separate works in the Prism exhibition. The PV happened just after I was released from hospital following more surgery, which meant Here Am I was not completely up to date!
Sumi Perera opened the exhibition and took this photograph of both my selected pieces (and me, a little shaky!).
Here Am I is a from-life bodyprint which uses stitching to replicate my surgical scars, some dating back over 50 years. I found myself weeping when I started to stitch, and was told by a psychotherapist friend that creating this tapped into deep sensate memories prompting painful reminders of long forgotten or buried emotional and physical traumas. I was very nervous about showing it – in fact during its creation showed only four people what I was doing. My daughter encouraged me to enter it for selection. Unfortunately I again had major surgery after the piece was selected and before the exhibition; Here Am I will be updated as soon as the scars have settled.
Of course I’m not is a series of 24 small stitchings on organza, each held in a mount, depicting men not looking at pornography. I began researching online pornography after the murder of Sarah Everard, when it was revealed just how much pornography is watched by these seemingly random attacks on women. The science is frightening.
Alongside the textile pieces was a small concertina book of drypoint etchings made from images of the stitchings. In the shop were individual cards and a series of miniature books.
Prism: Untold exhibition, April 2022
I was delighted to become a member of Prism Textiles at the end of 2021, and to have work displayed in Untold at the Art Pavilion, Mile End, in April (though, yet again, I was in hospital and couldn’t attend in person).
Fortunately new members could show work which had been previously exhibited (we had little time to prepare new work) but I did make a couple of new pieces. One very close to my heart is this little book about the Brig Emma.
The Brig Emma Closed: 15 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm. Rusted, painted and dyed fabrics, including recycled maritime flag and net curtains. Hand stitching with unsteamed thread. Mixed media images and marquetry veneers. Gold foil. 18th century button. Image transfer.
This small book tells the story of the Brig Emma and its last voyage. I was able to access original newspaper reports and admiralty records through contact with archivists and the great-granddaughter of Emma’s captain. The bookmark is a copy of Capt Barrett’s mourning card.
Stories in Stitch at Espacio Gallery, London, March 2022
Robert Cross (book)
15.3 x 12.2 x .9 cm
Drum leaf bound book with double-sided inserts printed on silk, book cloth covered board covers embossed with Spurn lighthouse outline. The book relates information about Robert Cross, coxswain of the Humber lifeboat
27 x 27 x 6 cm
Stitch and print on organza and muslin, suspended and floating in a frame. Robert Cross, coxswain of the Humber lifeboat based on Spurn, is one of the RNLI’s most highly decorated lifeboatmen. The text is taken from his retirement speech.
Untitled 5 (left, or top), 43 x 33cm, acrylic and watercolour on paper with collaged fabrics and lutrador. Untitled 6 (right, or bottom), 43 x 33cm, image transfer on paper collaged with fabric scraps and threads.
69 x 28 cm
Stitch with mixed media on hand rusted and dyed vintage cotton
Spurn Night 1
45 x 35 cm
Hand stitch on black cotton and net
Spurn Night 2
43 x 33 cm
Hand stitch on vintage suiting fragment
Spurn Scroll, 50 x 25 x 10 cm
Various fabrics joined together, paint, dye, machine and hand stitching, image transfer. The scroll is wound on two spindles so the central image can be changed, and is held on a stand.
73 x 52.5 cm
Handstitched with vintage and modern threads on 19th century hemp
Spurn Lines I
Mixed media book with various papers, prints, stitch, cottons and silk, image transfer. Printed fabric cover from original photographs. Stab binding. 28.5 x 15 x 1.2 cm closed.
8 x 22 x 3 cm closed
Flag book with machine stitched paper, acrylic, oak gall ink and bound with book cloth
Untitled 1, 2, 3 and 4: a series of four images of groynes at Spurn; lithographs (which took two days to produce) printed on calico, and then collaged with fabric, threads and gold foil. Each 23.5 x 32.5 cm
23.5 x 32.5 cm
Collage and machine stitch. Completely difference from my usual work: a reaction to the arrest of Patsy Stevenson at the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard
Textiles2020: The Show, December 2020, Espacio Gallery, London
I decided to make two major pieces for this exhibition.
I became fascinated by the dramatic effect of natural forces on the vulnerable Humberside coastline at Spurn Head. The power of the elements has overcome sea defences causing erosion, coastal movement, and displacing the once thriving community from this unstable, impermanent headland. This book is my response; it was shortlisted for the 252nd Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London (postponed from Summer to Autumn, hopefully).
The book didn’t make the final cut … but I had mixed emotions here: it meant it was available for our December exhibition and, given the difficulties I had experienced during the year, it was a relief. And I hadn’t actually had it long enough, so am happy to have it. And I was absolutely delighted to have the work shortlisted from such a strong field.
Sailors’ kit bags
100 x 80 approx (bags are approx 29 x 12cm each). Distressed rusted, painted and dyed cotton fabrics, thread and string. Stencilled.
The Brig Emma foundered in sight of men on Spurn desperate to help. Three bodies, unidentified, were washed ashore the following day, and interred in a single grave. Naval records identify five crew members, but the youngest, William Best, was never officially acknowledged. These named kit bags mark their loss.
These bags (and a new one for Capt Barrett) were displayed at the Prism “Untold” exhibition
Whilst researching this work I became deeply affected by the story of the loss of the Brig Emma just off Spurn in a gale in November 1893, and was able to access the research done by his great granddaughter, Meg Hartford. I made this small book to keep everything together.
My colleagues and I formed an exhibiting group at the end of our Advanced Textiles Course with CityLit, the last few months of which were very difficult … I was classified as clinically extremely vulnerable and had to shield for month, and just before we were permitted one walk daily I was admitted to St Mary’s for life-saving surgery (non-Covid related!) and spent just over six weeks there in three admissions. I did manage to join the @seamcollective September Challenge from my hospital bed with the help of my daughter and husband, who took photos for me from which I could make my selections.
Update: Lara moved her piece to the back of the work, along with the names of all contributors, and put mine in its place (thank you, dear Lara). The work is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum and can be found here.