More views from the workroom

Another of our members took time out of her busy schedule to speak to me last week. Mary Sleigh is a well known textile artist, tutor and author and in our series of interviews I wanted to take the chance to find out what Mary is working on for DIS/rupt, the group’s forthcoming exhibition opening in Stroud in May 2017. My first question was to ask Mary which of the aspects of the DIS/rupt brief had appealed to her.

Mary, can you tell us a little about your area of interest for DIS/rupt please?

Ecology and the environment; the story of the peat cutting in Ireland where it started as a domestic activity for the home. Over the years, it developed into an industrial process leaving scars in the landscape and using up resources created over thousands of years.

Peat Lands, sketchbook
Peat Lands, sketchbook
Peat Lands, sketchbook

Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

I am working on two pieces that are inspired by the black bogs and deep trenches created by peat cutting over the centuries. Despite the changes made by human intervention nature takes over eventually and we tend to look upon it and enjoy it as it is. I try to record my responses to places that I know, have walked and discovered by following a path, discovering unexpected things and been surprised by what I stumble upon. Peat Lands is the next in my current series of Cloth Stories, as J K Rowling says: ‘There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.’

Peat Lands revisited is a response to the repetitive mechanical process of peat cutting for commercial use.

Peat Lands
Peat Lands

What are the materials and processes that you are working with?

I refer to drawings, notes and photographs to give me a palette of colours, textures and marks. I dye fabrics, cotton, silk and linen, sometimes with natural or Procion dyes, then put together combinations that reflect my ideas. Hand stitching comes next, which adds details and is important in construction. I love the process of gradual change in the making and words are often an important component.

Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?

I have made two pieces; one is more intimate, a book construction when opened is just over 1 metre long and 10cm wide. The second is a 2metre length of digitally printed silk crepe de Chine.

Peat Lands Revisited

Is the finished piece to be free standing or wall mounted?

Both are wall hung, the book fully open and the silk hanging from a rod.

What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?

There is a story in everything and there are few places accessible to us that are truly wild and untouched. Despite catastrophic events or intervention by man they still have a beauty of their own as nature takes over. It’s in the making of something that we really get to know it and as I have discovered when dipping my toe into the digital world with the printed silk ‘craft helps to make technology human’.

Mary, these pieces look very interesting, thank you very much for allowing me to glimpse what you have been working on. I look forward to seeing the finished work in the exhibition.

More information about DIS/rupt can be found here TSG and all information and booking details about the programme of workshops which tie into the exhibition and lead by several TSG members can be found on the SIT select website at this link. SIT select 2017


A peak behind the studio door

Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2017 brings you all much textile success and happiness. Despite everyone being busy over Christmas I was able to chat recently with another of our TSG members and today I can bring you the second of our series of interviews as the group works towards our exciting exhibition DIS/rupt that opens in Stroud in the Spring. (See our blog post here below, giving details of where and when, here at SIT select 2017 and on our website here TSG)

As you know, accompanying the exhibition several of our TSG members are running workshops and today’s interview is with Ruth Issett, one of the tutors involved. Ruth is well known as a textile artist and author of several books, so I was interested to hear about her work for the exhibition.

Design development using mono printed acrylic, plus additional layers of inks and further layers of oil paint sticks
Design development using mono printed acrylic, plus additional layers of inks and further layers of oil paint sticks
Further design development
Further design development

Ruth, which area of the DIS/rupt project are you investigating or exploring?

I am particularly considering elements of climate change and the alteration in weather patterns worldwide. These are affecting numerous communities and creating turbulent events worldwide. This idea then evolved into the idea of depicting windmills, wind turbines and them spinning and maybe losing control.

Wall board in my studio with various trials of printing, dyeing and cutting techniques both on fabric and paper

Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

I am working on two different ideas. The first, to be installed outdoors, is a series of circular pleated wheels that may spin. Each one will gradually vary in colour and interpretation and will become more distressed as the series develops. It may also become more distressed during the duration of the exhibition, being exposed to the weather!

The second is to be installed within the gallery and will spiral from the ceiling to the floor. It has bold bands of solid brilliant colour that will become more ragged and overwhelmed as it spirals downwards.

That sounds really interesting. What are the materials and processes that you are working with?

Detail of folded and cut fabric surface for the series that will be exhibited externally

For both pieces I am using cotton organdie that I have dyed, printed and discharged. For the external pieces I have layered, bonded, cut and folded these fabrics. For the internal piece I am layering the dyed fabrics, and exploring the possibilities of a variety of different colour effects using stitching, fringing and fraying.

Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?

The external pieces will be five circular disks each measuring approximately 75cm wide. The internal piece will spiral from the ceiling that is approximately three metres height and will probably be one metre wide.

What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?

I would hope that people will be aware that it is possible to convey powerful and disturbing messages through strong visual expressions using colour and textiles without the need for endless words. I also wish to convey concern of how we squander the world’s resources on indulgent commodities.

Detail of stitched and printed ‘spiral’ piece to be exhibited in the gallery

You are one of the TSG tutors running workshops during the DIS/rupt exhibition, briefly, what can your students expect from the classes?

I am offering three different workshops during the time of the exhibition. There will be two half day courses, one looking at how we can disrupt printing techniques to create unexpected results. Another will investigate the possibilities of using paper in similar ways to fabric by manipulation and stitch.

More information about Ruth’s and the other workshops can be found here SIT select 2017

Alongside these workshops I will also be delivering a joint residential course – Now You See It, Now You Don’t, with Dorothy Tucker at Hawkwood College We will explore the possibilities of cutting and overlaying to enhance or subdue colour before adding print and stitch.

That all sounds very exciting Ruth and I’m sure will be of enormous interest to people. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today especially at this busy time of year and I look forward to seeing your work in Stroud.

To find out more about the workshops and the exhibition go to SIT select 2017