Walking in the Landscape
I always start by walking. I spend lots of time just walking and looking and getting the spirit and feeling of the place. I love watching the play of light and shadow through the trees; observing the light at different times of day, season, and weather; enjoying the sounds and scents. I may take a few photographs, and make some sketches to capture specific colours and shapes. These are just to remind me of what I have seen. Mostly I walk … and walk…and listen and look …and remember.
In the Studio
Back in the workroom I start with an idea of the landscape, and the feeling or mood that I want. A board with photos, postcards and images help me to keep my vision in mind. I also write a journal and keep a notebook of what I do with samples and recipes and ideas.
First comes the ‘wet’ work – building up colours and images on fabric, using a range of hand dyeing techniques including, batik wax, tray dyeing and screen printing. I use mostly silk fabrics – silk sateen, silk organza, silk crepeline and silk habutai. This forms my palette for a series of pieces. I also hand dye different weights of silk threads for hand stitching.
Then I embark on the long slow process of building up a piece; tearing up and layering the dyed fabrics to create the effect of light and shadow, depth and space. My earlier work had a delicate, almost transparent feeling, with several layers of fine silk habutai and organza, all hand stitched.
Currently I use wadding to gives extra dimension. My pieces are quilts though not in any traditional sense of the word. Each layer – and there may be 3 or 4 or more layers to each piece, is stitched onto the backing fabric and wadding in turn to give definition and depth.
This long drawn out process is meditative. I love the unpredictability of the methods which force me to respond in a fresh way at every stage.
If you would like to commission a piece inspired by your favourite landscape, please contact me. I will be happy to come and look and talk.
I am also happy to give public talks about my work and the methods I use.