I work from a large attic studio in Sheffield. I hand stitch everything. I enjoy the meditative pace of hand sewing, which allows me the time and calm to formulate ideas as I go and is the reason I am able to work intuitively, rather than planning ahead.
I stitch primarily with embroidery silks, but like to work across a range of materials, forever trying new combinations. After 16 years as a children’s book illustrator, with my media and style restricted to what was known and expected, I now wallow in the opportunity for experimentation and creative play. I enjoy exploring the language of textiles and often think of stitch as an equivalent of drawn mark-making, while sheer fabrics, rough-cut and layered to create subtle gradations of colour, flow like watercolour.
I discovered recently that I suffer from aphantasia, which means that I have an inability to pull on visual memory. My mind’s eye doesn’t function: when I conjure an image, it is as if it is seen in my peripheral vision but, if I attempt to look at it directly, it evaporates.
I am fascinated by the ways in which this informs my creative method – my focus on the here and now, on making decisions as I go along – and how certain kinds of work have always been impossible for me, without me understanding the reasons at the time.
I can paint or draw anything which is put in front of me but, remove me from the subject, and I cannot work from memory, not even seconds later. Yet I do have the ability to soak up inspiration from the natural world, or from other artist’s work, and to carry that away with me in some fashion, if not as remembered images. This inspiration does find its way into my work, but through largely subconscious channels.