My desire is to create, through weaving, items of beauty which speak of the land and its myriad details. To be completely immersed in a place is to feel that place deeply and learn to draw from it subtleties of shape and colour.
I find inspiration in the light of a deep winter afternoon, the softness of meadow grasses in summer, the textures of mosses and stones. A sudden flicker of colour in a busy urban landscape will generate a raft of ideas. Books on a shelf, an overwhelming sense of awe in a stained glass window, a beautifully crafted building.
Weaving is, for me, an opportunity to paint with colour, to write poetry in texture, to take a thread and craft from it a beautiful and distinctive fabric which expresses a place, an emotion, an idea.
But I want my pieces to be used not be placed carefully in a drawer to be admired or forgotten. They must be functional and therefore technically competent.
I choose my materials carefully — silk and fine wools for scarves so as not to irritate sensitive skin, chenilles and thicker wools for throws so that they will wrap with comforting warmth.
Above all, I never lose interest in creating a cloth by hand, setting it up thread by thread. Seeing it develop on the loom and then be transformed from a stiff unwielding fabric to an item of sheer beauty as it is washed and ironed – these are magical moments I just can’t get enough of.
LANDSCAPES & DETAILS
I am particularly drawn to wild and lonely places where nature’s forces can be found. From cracked and moss-covered rockfaces to tiny bejewelled flowers, from vast Atlantic vistas to calm green fields, these places are where, when the wind stops blowing and the rain stops lashing, it is possible to hear a soul-stilling silence. These are the places that inspire me because they calm my spirit and enable me to really see the small things that make up the richness of our world.
Away from my northern homeland I seek out similar places in other countries and discover new experiences I couldn’t have anticipated. From the intense silence of the Navajo Canyon de Chelly in Arizona to the stillness of a fogbound Block Island in New England, from the dizzying cliff temples of Bhutan to the brilliance of colour in a packed Calcutta market, all of these places and the myriad worlds within them stir my creativity and provoke new ideas of form, line and colour.
In recent years I have visited the American southwest, India and Bhutan to see weavers at work. Unable to resist their work, I have arrived home with bundles of beautiful handwoven items, from humble mats of nettle to exquisite silk altar cloths and amazingly fine cotton saris.
It is always particularly special when I can buy a piece of work from the person who made it. Two pieces, and memories, which I especially treasure are a beautiful small rug woven from vegetable dyed native wool and finished just that morning by a Navajo grandmother in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, and an intricate yathra woollen cloth woven on a backstrap loom by a new mother of twins in a village near Trongsa, Central Bhutan.
I wonder where I’ll go next!