Why do I create what I do?
Because I always have to be making something. I need to be doing something with my hands, and I need to be doing something that needs planning, problem-solving, creating with my mind and eye as well as my hands - and provides me with a visualisation of where I am.
I am fundamentally a story teller, and so the image I create can be seen as an illustration of an idea. It is a means of expressing what I think and how I feel about what is going on.
I use fabric because it suits my hands, it is clean, can be picked up and put down, can travel with me, .... I also use fabric because it is historically an expression of a woman's life - or at least the feminine in life, and that is important to how I define myself. I also use fabric because it is flat without being flat, it hangs in an alive way, it catches the light, it looks warm, it looks reassuring even if what it depicts is not.
How does my creating process work?
A great deal of how the image comes about is a mystery to me. My subconscious spins straw into gold. The quilt below was one image which presented itself to me when I was looking through my photographs of Avebury - a place I love, to which I have returned many times, and the history of which intrigues me. A henge is a prehistoric structure which could loosely be described as a large circular ditch with an accompanying mound, and this with the stones at Avebury imbue me with a feeling of the significance of the human hand on the landscape, and at the same time the insignificance of the individual human.
Henge horizon (2010)
My subconscious imagination having presented me with the image, I tried to analyse it after I had made the quilt: the two horizons are a means of recording both the round and the revisiting/time passing. The man with his bicycle was a fluke in my photograph, but it captured a time which could be said to be nearer the present, but leaning back, so to speak. The head is made of stone (I used a photograph of one of the standing stones) is vaguely classical, and perhaps self important. I also hope that I have captured some of the mystical ambience, and left hanging questions. That is an example of how my creating process often works.
Another example, below, is my reaction to various news items about political prisoners, while I too at that time was feeling an emotional prisoner of sorts.
I do not use a sketchbook, but I keep digital files of my photographs, and of other digitised work such as traditional prints, scribbled drawings of the sea, pastels, scans of leaves or other objects. I also draw people - either from life as blind drawing (as above) which I then scan, or straight on the computer in digital form from my imagination, sometimes helped with details drawn from photographs rather than life. These are ingredients, and I cook them together digitally in different recipes - often reusing different combinations of the ingredients.
Although I do not use a sketchbook, I do use notebooks to write down various ideas for 'meals' which pop into my head. My memory is dumping more and more these days, so if I don't write things down they disappear. I am adding more process notes now too as I leave gaps between stages of digital development - again, it's memory becoming alarmingly more sieve-like.
The red room: Recognition (2008)
I do a lot of digital drawing, collaging, and other manipulation before the image is ready for printing onto fabric. Once that is done I then enjoy choosing the colours of threads, and mostly use Stef Francis' space dyed cotton or silk. And while I am stitching I am also thinking - not least about projects in the pipelines past, current, and future.