Saturday, 13 June 2015

Making Connections: Colour and Cloth meets William Morris

This weekend I am exhibiting and selling my soft furnishing line at The Modern Home Show, Malone House, Belfast.  It is stunningly located beside the both tranquil and busy Lagan towpath.  I love doing the shows as it is great to meet customers face to face and share a passion for textiles, interiors and talent.

This blog tells the story of when I conversed with a customer at 'The Alternative Stitch Fest' back in September 2014, discovered we were way out related and landed myself an event at talking about my textile work. It really is a small world and this blog has many links and connections.

The group was the W.E.A.V.E.R group based in Larne, and the location was Drumalis House, Larne. It is a Decorative Arts and Crafts dream and hosts original wallpaper by my favourite textile artist, William Morris.  I was lucky enough to get a guided tour with one of the Sisters back in January.

Drumalis House Larne, combining the old with the new architecture.
I distinctly remember my big sister having a William Morris print on a beanbag in the 1990's.  It was only a few years ago that I really began to appreciate the genius, originality and integrity of his work. He is regarded as the greatest designer of the Arts and Crafts movement.  He revived many of the traditional arts and favoured natural dyes to synthetics.

Mr William Morris himself.  He famously said 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful'.

Back in the early 80's, I wrote my textile project on natural dyeing.  The folder and experiments I made back then continues to serve me today and I love its rawness of being hand written in ink pen with water marks made during a colour experiment! Back then I hadn't discovered William Morris and his ethos, one which today, I very much subscribe to and appreciate.

Cover page with slightly askew handwriting
My textile folder from 1990. I had the best textile teacher, Mrs Mc Cann.

Me with Kylemore Abbey, Cliften, Connemara Ireland blending in with nature.
This is a pure wool jumper I knit on my Brother 950i knitting machine.  Every colour is dyed using a natural dye.  The back is also completely different. Over 20 years later, this jumper and its colours still looks like this, although I have changed.  Natures yarns and its colour palette never dates.

This booklet was produced over 20 years ago and shows where my colour inspiration comes from for my textile work.

I spoke with enthusiasm about my work to date, my influence from my creative parents and sisters. The talk was very well received by the group of women, each of whom had a creative passion. The sharing of stories is the what I enjoy most about these events. The following images are from my house tour. Each room, corridor, nook and cranny has been designed and no detail not considered.  The images do not do the house justice. Thankfully Drumalis is open for visiting, but check their website for full details.


 This stained glass window was designed by my foundation art tutor in Belfast Art College Mr Neil Shawcross.

Close up of the cushions made by William Morris printed fabrics and Sanderson printed fabrics.

Although many of the designs are over 100 years old, they are as modern classics and have never dated.

Plenty of cushions to choose from.

Design detailing on the cushions ready for market.

The lady I met at the Stitch Fest is mother in law to my second cousin who now lives in Washington.  My housemate Deirdre from Chicago, who I lived with in Belfast in 2012 would go to Drumalis and work with the Sisters.  Her dad is originally from Larne and he played in the house gardens as a young boy.  These are all links that have come to the fore in the last year.  That is how textiles, crafts and landscapes can be woven together into the lives of individuals, all with a story to tell.  That drives my passion for creating with both colour and cloth.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog which in itself has so many stories to tell.  The creative journey never ends, that's why I love every moment of it.

Happy Creating
Till next time when I shall be writing from the Southern Hemisphere,