This page is for students who are researching textile artists and any one else who may be interested . . .
I am a textile artist and tutor living on the west coast of County Clare, Ireland.
Having worked through most of the traditional techniques I find I am drawn to experiment, layering techniques where I can.
My original training was in Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics. I had no idea at the time that the course would be instrumental in my development as an artist and a tutor. As students we were trained as artist craft persons, learning how to use each material before we designed anything. Little did I know how important this would be thirty years down the line. When you are 21 you have no idea what is ahead of you, I hoped to be a potter but could never afford a kiln large enough for my work and then life took over and whisked me away onto other pathways.
Me 44 years ago at college, I miss that waistcoat!
My work is split roughly into three areas – 3D & experimental textiles, wall pieces and photography.
I travel internationally to lecture about my work and deliver various workshops and summer schools. I am known for breaking boundaries and helping students to think outside of the box!
I have written four books, Hot Textiles, Experimental Textiles, Layered Textiles and Reclaimed Textiles.
5 most recently asked questions
How did you first become interested in textiles and start working with them?
I have always made my own clothes when I have time. My family were very in to ‘make do and mend’ when I was growing up. We lived on a farm and little money for new clothes. When I first did the Diploma in Creative embroidery in 1985 there was no way you could make a living as a textile artist I just worked through the course not knowing where I would end up. It was not until 1996 when I did the University Certificate in Creative Stitch that I realised I might be able to make some kind of living through textiles. Since then I have built up my teaching and lecture circuit and make my strange vessels when I can.
Which textile artist’s work do you think has most influenced your own?
The tutor who has most influenced me and my work is Ruth Issett. She taught me not to be afraid of colour. Other tutors who have inspired me are - Ros Chilcot, Bobby Britnell and Gwen Hedley.
I think Barbara Lee Smith is the textile artist that first lit my fire when I saw her work for Art of the Stitch in 1997-98 entitled The Pilings. 12 columns of painted, fused and stitched synthetic fabric. 2.6 metres tall. They were FANTASTIC.
What is your main source of inspiration?
The phrase ‘what if?’ and 3D and any way making a material 3d. Because of my training I am process based.
And in the end of your book you say your favourite types of art, are that of Patrick Heron, Dale Chihuly and Anish Kapoor, what is it about each of these artists work that draws you to them and have they had an impact on your own work?
Patrick Heron – his use of colour – particularly his stripes
Dale Chihuly – the way he designs through process
Anish Kapoor – his sculpture at Tate Modern just blew me away. A textile form THAT size. Pure simple design, again through process.
My favourite book
Pacific Light by Jay Dunitz – His amazing photographs of metal.
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