Being in nature, and absorbing its calming beauty into my paintings, is a form of meditation for me. What began as a way to cope with grief is now a way of life, and one that I want to share.
I studied fashion design at Nottingham Trent University and went on to work with many high street names, designing clothing and fabric prints, and seeing manufacturing processes up close. My career took me around the world, and the cultures I experienced have had a strong influence on my artwork. Techniques that I learnt in India – such as textile print, hand painting, embroidery and embellishment – feature in my work to this day.
Life turned upside down
I stepped back from my career when our first daughter was born, but while my husband and I were building a family, I was losing my own. My brother had died several years before, and I was rocked by the loss, in quick succession, of my father, mother and three of my aunts.
At this same time our daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – a lifelong and life-changing condition that requires constant management.
Creativity and nature as therapy
I instinctively turned to painting as a way to still my worried mind. I remember sitting at our kitchen table with my paints and silks spread out in front of me, with the backdoor open and the sun beaming in. In those moments my breathing slowed, my mind was focused, and I felt peaceful in the creative flow. Art saw me through those difficult early days.
As our family grew, we discovered that time spent in nature, away from modern distractions, could turn a fractious day into one of connection and enjoyment. Living in Brighton we are surrounded by the rolling hills of the South Downs and the Sussex coastline, and regular walks lift our spirits and provide me with endless inspiration.
Technique: finding ways to capture beauty
My landscapes and seascapes aim to express the sense of profound calm that nature gives me.
My starting point is always colour – how it varies with the changing of the seasons or how the sun reflects off the sea. I take photographs or make sketches to capture the moment.
Foraging and beach combing for pebbles, seed heads and grasses, I use these finds to add monoprinting to my paintings, and to inspire the embroidery detail. Often leaving threads to hang, the free-motion embroidery, with occasional additions by hand, brings movement and depth.
These varied yet balanced elements in my work give the sense of finding something new to see, each time you look.
Sharing my art
Beginning to sell my artwork took a leap of confidence, and it was exhilarating to discover that it resonated with others. Each time someone connects with one of my paintings, and chooses it for their home, I know that my joy in nature is shared.
Teaching textile art… and moving online
I get enormous pleasure from passing on my favourite textile art skills to others. I lead workshops at Made and Making in Hassocks, just outside Brighton, and love to see the enjoyment of participants as they find confidence in their creativity.
I thought lockdown would bring these experiences to a grinding halt. How wrong I was!
Taking my workshops online was a revelation. It worked! I discovered that people love making space to be creative in their own homes. Zoom sessions brought real connection – often across continents – and I saw people relax as art melted away their stress.
A seed was sown. I created a Facebook group and, just six months later, launched Flourish Textile Art Hub. It’s where you can download easy-to-follow video tutorials, join an online group course, or commit to monthly creative projects by becoming a member.
If you know that making time for creativity improves your wellbeing, and if you’d love to create your own textile art, I hope you’ll explore everything Flourish has to offer.