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as I began …

May 4, 2021

When I began my MA in textiles months before we could have imagined Covid19, the pandemic and lock downs; I had more than the required ‘good ideas’.  Those that encompassed my current activities as a newly retired rare books cataloguer, such as my garden, music, and my yearly trip to Rio de Janeiro.  I am also a printmaker and merely enjoyed a little needle work and was hoping to make a colourful and rich wall hanging.   For first few weeks, I threw my net wide bewildered by the opportunities the art college offered.  I experimented with various dyeing techniques using foraged ingredients with various fabrics and threads.  I explored the use of alternative printing inks and acids all with new and exciting results; taking full advantage of the technical staff, tutors, studio space, and the facilities it offered. As a result, I had large array of 2-dimensional work; beautiful but still related to nothing in particular.  During this time, I began looking at the use of earth pigments and study them fully; working closely with a supplier I built up data base and skill set to carry on dyeing and printing fabric with native dyes and local pigments with this and studio space at the University I began to take a few steps forward.  Meanwhile, I was also reflecting back to river where I was born, the Hamble near Southampton. On the river and its banks since the Iron Age and for centuries to this day is a vast shipbuilding and dock industry grew.  In a small, isolated community that serviced one such boat yard, away from the school and other local amenities I lived with my parents until I was 12 years old.  I have bittersweet memories of that wild and free existence and wanted to stake a claim to the rich history that is fast becoming more remote as private modernity lays a formidable fist on public rights. I saw an opportunity to capture this in MA practice; so, I made plans to return to Hampshire and gather dyeing materials, images and stories and create a tapestry …

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