I am back in London this week, for the Affordable Art Fair in Hampstead. Everyone connected with Demelza’s Gallery was so delighted with the show last autumn that they decided to give it another go this summer – and they asked me back again.
I have been full on since Christmas last year putting together another collection of painted/embroidered scenes: six of London parks and opens spaces, and four of Cornish beaches. Each with the usual cavalcade of people and their pets, with surf boards and kites, icecream vans, cyclists, picnics – the lot.
There is a charity private view tomorrow evening (June 12), with the actual Fair opening to the public on Thursday (June 13) at 11am, and running through until Sunday (June 16), doors closing at 6pm.
Scrolling down you can see most of the images on sale at the show, interspersed with a Q&A that Demelza Gallery’s – that’s Demelza, Katherine and Toby – asked me to put together, that hopefully sheds some light on my working process.
Describe your work process?
I try to capture the fun, the charm and the eccentricities of everyday life – be it on a beach in Cornwall, or in a park or heath in London; people and their pets enjoying life. These tableaus are achieved in three stages: Firstly the scenery, be it an ocean or a city skyline, is painted on to silk taffeta, using fabric ink. Next, the people and animals are drawn
on, and finally all of the clothes, sails, kites, and fur, are embroidered, creating a three dimensional effect.
What inspires you to create?
A combination of a natural world, usually with a big, blustery sky, and the charm and the intimacy of people relaxing, and enjoying themselves. These, the central components
of all of my work, I observe on my daily dog walking jaunts. Much of my life is spent in Cornwall and it never ceases to amaze me how the skies and seas change from day to day. No two walks are alike so I have an inexhaustible supple of shifting scenes.
What makes you choose the materials and mediums you work with and how do they relate to the execution of your technique?
I have always worked with fabrics, and an abundance of colour. My work is a natural development from my years as a textile designer. I have always enjoyed the freedom of drawing or painting directly on to fabric. It is a very tactile medium, and one I feel most at home with. I am also fortunate to be very comfortable with sewing, thereby providing me with the perfect combination of painting and embroidery.
Who would you like to exhibit and/or collaborate with, and why?
For most of my life I have been part of a team. But now I am alone I find that I enjoy the freedom it provides me. Just me and my dog, Asta.
How have your past projects influenced your current practice? How have they developed your research and creative process?
There is a direct connection. For my degree show, at Goldsmiths University of London, I made embroidered beach scenes not that dissimilar from those I make today, although perhaps more primitive. But it was an area I intended to return to at some point. In fact, completing my degree Sally Spens (my partner in Bentley & Spens) and I moved into fashion employing our techniques acquired in painting and batik. We moved from fashion into furnishings – we have pieces in the V&A – and then back to clothing with a range of designs for yukatas (cotton summer kimonos) commissioned by a Japanese corporation. So, in a roundabout way my work today is an extension of where I started, whilst incorporating everything in between.
Prices from £540-£599.
Demelza’s Gallery, Stand D2, Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead Heath London, Lower Fairground Site, East Heath Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 1TH.