Touch and Flow workshops: Gawthorpe Textile collection

I’ve just completed a rather lovely project in Burnley called Touch and Flow.  I was asked to facilitate a series of hand stitch workshops with a group of carers and to give them the opportunity to explore the Gawthorpe Hall Textile handling collection.

If you’ve never visited Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham then you must!  They have a beautiful and fascinating collection of textile objects and costumes, collected over the decades by Miss Rachel Kay Shuttleworth.


Portrait of Rachel Beatrice Kay-Shuttleworth

You can find out more about her and Gawthorpe here

The weekly workshops took place at Burnley Mechanics.  I brought along tea china that belonged to my Great Aunt and we spent the sessions slow stitching with a steady supply of tea and biscuits.



The sessions were aimed at carers, giving them a chance to get out of the house, chat to other people and do something slow, relaxing and totally unpressured.  Over the weeks we built a core group of lovely people who shared stories, supported each other, made some very beautiful artworks and brought in precious objects from their own histories, including textile objects, photographs and old patterns, somebody even brought in fragments of wallpaper they’d saved from their first home.

I started the group off with  images printed onto calico stretched onto hoops.  I wanted to get away from the pressure of a blank ‘canvas’ and the local landscape photos seemed a good start point for people to explore stitch and find their own style.


Some people stuck with this and produced several beautiful pieces, taking them home to work on in between.  Other people hand stitched A Gawthorpe pin cushion bird, based on a beautiful little yellow bird in the handling collection or made little tea light jars.

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International Textile Biennial, Belgium

Its been a pretty hectic couple of weeks with a lot of travelling, in the UK, in Belgium and in Norway.  Some fab workshops with some lovely people (more about that another time) and some really interesting projects and exhibitions happening or in planning.

I was really lucky to be invited to participate in the International Textile Biennial in Haacht, Belgium.  There were 37 artists representing  14 countries and the standard was fantastic as well as being beautifully put together by Maurice and Danielle.



I took along my series of Phrenology Heads.  It’s the first time that all 8 have shown in the same exhibit.  There they are travelling to Belgium from the UK in their ‘special’ bag stitched together from extra large TKMaxx shoppers! (All very glamorous!). The next photo shows two of the heads (Eat the Rich and Little Girls) waiting at the exhibition hall to be set up.

Den Breugal in Haacht is a brilliant space.  The exhibition is spread across 3 floors.

We stayed at the Chateau de Namur overnight.  It’s a fantastic hotel overlooking the old city of Namur.  It looks quite swanky but it’s actually a training centre for the hospitality industry in Belgium.  I had one of the best vegetarian meals ever!

The Textile Biennial finishes tomorrow (12th March) For anyone in the area it’s open from 10am until 6pm.

Gemeenschapcentrum Den Breugal, Wespelaarsesteenweg 85, 3150 Haacht, Belgium





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Some Very Peculiar Props to Help Save Our Precious Waterways.

I’ve just delivered an unusual commission for Friends of Bradford Becks (F.O.B.B).  It’s a collapsible ‘soft’ sculpture of a washing machine / house, complete with guttering, pipework and frogs! All the sides zip together, the roof is detachable and the whole thing  folds into an artist portfolio so it can be easily transported.

Miss Connection, a rather glamorous plumber (AKA Irene Lofthouse, Actor), will be visiting local schools and using the sculpture to get across an important environmental message.  Connect Right is an initiative to encourage everybody to plumb in appliances properly so that dirty water doesn’t poison our clean waterways and wild habitats.  I’ve made her a glitzy apron to wear as she hosts an interactive game and hands out stickers.

I’ve included a few images of it in progress and delivered.  Hopefully we’ll get a few images of Miss Connection in action.

Here is a useful ten point plan produced by F.O.B.B to help you sort out what goes where!




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New Year Hares.

Here’s my first drawing of the New Year. I hope that 2017 will be mellow and kinder than 2016…  sending best wishes to  anyone that follows my ramblings and doodlings x


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The Snow Queen

I’ve had a really lovely illustration job over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been putting together a poster + thinking about design for a production of The Snow Queen.  Q20 Theatre will be presenting their interpretation of the Hans Christian Anderson classic at the Bradford Playhouse this Christmas.  I’ve particularly enjoyed envisioning the Snow Queen’s costume…. inspiration came from Leon Bakst’s beautiful costumes for the Russian ballet and from Coppola’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, notably the vampiric Lucy!  Here’s the latest version of the poster for the production.


A few prep drawings above.


Snow Queen costume

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Threads Exhibition at Salisbury Art Centre + Avebury Stone Circle.



I took a trip down to Salisbury the other day to deliver my work to Salisbury Art Centre. Their open exhibition this year is a textile based extravaganza and I’m really pleased to have some work selected – “Peril at Sea”  and 3 of my Shaman birds. The exhibition opens on  1st Oct and runs until the 12th Nov 2016.  The gallery is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 till 3.


Meanwhile, if you’re old enough to remember the creepy 70’s TV programme ‘Children of the Stones and it’s terrifying soundtrack, ‘ then you’ll recognise Avebury’s stone circle.  As I was close by I took the opportunity to visit for the first time in many years! So atmospheric – much more so than Stone Henge. “Happy Day…!”




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Sweethearts at The Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford

I went down to the Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford a couple of weeks ago to deliver my Sweethearts installation.  The gallery are commemorating the 1914 – 18 war with two exhibitions of work; my “Sweethearts” piece and “Lost Generation” by Andy Farr.  The exhibitions run from the 10th September until the 29th of October.

Sweethearts – Morwenna Catt

sweethearts for shire hall 11

Sweethearts is a textile installation of outsized Sweetheart cushions by Morwenna Catt, which mimic the pincushions that were often created by wounded soldiers recovering in hospitals during WWI.

These, much larger, hearts are heavily worked onto vintage woollen uniforms and domestic fabrics, with laboriously embroidered text and printed, stitched images of toy soldiers and trench maps.

In part the installation reflects on the artist’s ancestors experiences of war and has expanded into a more meditative study of how we remember and commemorate war.

One Sweetheart lists the names of every soldier shot at dawn for cowardice, another lists all the wars the UK has participated in during the 100 years since WWI.

Silent Witness
Lost Generation – Andy Farr

100 years ago the youth of Britain were caught up in the excitement of fighting for the honour and glory of their king and country. If you were a teenager in 1914 a third of your friends would have been dead 4 years later, those who did survive would have been physically injured and mentally scarred.

Lost Generation is an Arts Council funded initiative by Andy Farr to make the WW1 centenary more relevant to today’s young people. The exhibition will be a mix of work by the artist and from his collaboration with students in the Midlands and Yorkshire.

For more information visit

Shire Hall Gallery
Market Square
ST16 2LD
Tel: 01785 278345

Opening Hours

Monday: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm
Tuesday: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Wednesday – Saturday: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm
Sunday: 1.00 pm – 4.00 pm

Closed: Bank Holidays



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Animal Spirit Masks with Airedale Young Embroiderers Guild

It’s taken me a while to get round to updating my blog so as usual, like buses, all mine will turn up at once!  I was lucky to be invited back for a second year to work with the fantastic young stitchers from the Airdale Embroiderer’s Guild.  Last year we made some pretty fantastic shamanic creatures with more than a touch of voodoo.  This year we made animal spirit masks and the young people did brilliantly.  Here are a few photos of the finished masks.



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Spirit Animal Shaman headdresses for SIRF Carnival Parade

I’ve had a bit of a thing for the folkloric and the shamanic in my own work of late.  When I was given Shangri-La as my section on this years SIRF carnival parade I jumped at the chance of making some Spirit Animal Shamanic headdresses for one my groups.  They’re a drumming group called Rhythm Train, so the shamanic look should work very well!  Here are some of the headdresses.

shaman dragon

Spirit Animal Dragon

shaman bear 01

Spirit Animal Bear 1

shaman owl

Spirit Animal Owl

shaman wolf

Spirit Animal Wolf

shaman bird

Spirit Animal Bird

shaman bear 02

Spirit Animal Bear 2

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A Disco Dragon + some goofy lions for SIRF Carnival

I spent this afternoon adding some last minute frou-frou to this incredibly glitzy disco Dragon.  He’ll be parading with a youth group in the Stockton on Tees carnival parade tomorrow.  Also a pair of last minute, rather goofy looking lion heads on sticks.  The weather forecast is SUNNY!! (faints with surprise)  If you’re in the area the parade sets off at 12 noon from SPLASH and winds its way through the town centre before finishing at the riverside. It’s always a brilliant spectacle.

glitzy dragon 01

A Disco Dragon for Shangri – La

glitzy dragon 02

with a tie dye-tastic body

silly lions02

A pair of silly looking lions


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