Lockdown has taken me back to continue my path as a designer.....
My journey as a wallpaper and fabric designer
As a teenager I really wanted to study fine art and be an artist but in those days, ‘painting was dead!’ and it was all about installations. That wasn’t my thing, and when I didn’t manage to get a place at the one fine art course that would have really suited me, I had to think again. I spent a year at Nottingham on a course I didn’t enjoy before switching over to Bretton Hall, an arts college set in Yorkshire Sculpture park. In this part of Leeds University I studied art and design: textiles. It was a creative, quirky course and college, and I loved it. I learnt a lot, including surface pattern techniques which I often share in my art classes and Art in the Park workshops. Always on the ‘fine art’ side of textiles, in my final year I created designs and lengths of fabrics inspired by a country walk. This walk took me past from my village home in Norfolk across the fields to my Grandma’s house in the next village! Some of the works produced were paintings of the landscapes and other pieces were collages made of nature, drawings of weeds etc.
My career after University
When I finished my degree, I exhibited at New Designers in London and was taken on by two agents. I worked freelance, selling fashion fabric designs. But having an unreliable income was stressful. Trying to make a living from something you love is hard. After six months, my designing career was put on hold and I got an admin job with Nobilis, an upmarket French textile house in Chelsea. From there I developed a career in sales and admin, enjoying the contract market. In 2003 I gave up work to raise my children but always found free time to be creative. When I went back to work I got a job at a local school as an art and textiles technician. It was a creative environment and the hours and holidays fitted in with the children but at times it was soul destroying. I did teacher training and spent six years as a teacher and teaching assistant at schools in London, and continued to paint. At the same time, I developed my Budding Artists and CATS clubs. When my boys turned into teenagers and I got my dog Tilly, things changed. I gave up my school job – and regular income – to look after her and became fully self-employed once again.
Self-employment is nerve-racking and a juggling act.
Initially, I packed my schedule with so many art clubs and exhibitions I was busier than ever before. Then, a few years into this new life, Lockdown happened, and everything ground to a halt. Within a few weeks I had lost all my regular teaching. Many people suggested doing Zoom classes but I was initially daunted. I spent the mornings doing admin and the afternoons in Studio 9, thankful for some income from furlough payments.
Lockdown one was a stressful time!
My parents had just moved into a care home and my dad was in an out of hospital. I missed seeing my parents, and I missed my walk around the Norfolk fields where I would always go whenever I visited them at their home. I found solace at the studio and, having the time to paint without having to put down the paintbrush to run and do an art class was great therapy. The creativity flowed and what amazed me was that I came a full circle, extending my portfolio from my art student days, some 30 years ago.
Finding Inspiration again
I began creating work about my special walk around the fields in Norfolk, experimenting with printmaking. Still fascinated by the beauty of nature I put my mind to capturing the wonderful colour and natural forms of weeds and other natural forms. My botanical prints developed into cushions, art scarves and now wallpaper.
I listened to my heart, and my path led me back to my Norfolk walk of yesteryear. In a sense I have become the girl I was all those years ago, enjoying designing with patterns in Nature again, yet this time I am in control. I am designing for myself and can deal directly with the manufacturer, rather than selling through agents and getting very little for the designs. If you would like to see my modern botanical collection, I currently sell them as prints, paintings and hand made art-scarves and art-cushions. I really hope you like them.