Driven by a desire to create texture and engage the senses, my work reflects my interest in haptic perception
- our instinct to touch and the importance of touch to our human experience.
Taking an experimental approach to the ancient craft of felt making, I explore material combinations and processes, to celebrate tactility. Investigating the relationship between actual and perceived textures, translucency and opacity, I create functional objects with surfaces that invite physical interaction with the materials and challenge the perception of felt.
I was first drawn to making felt by its holistic nature - the physical interaction between the materials, the process and maker. I love the inherent tactility and physicality of the making process, from the feel of the fibres to the smell of the wool, in which the maker is as integral to the process as the wool fibres are. Making felt is a physical, slow and contemplative process that has taught me to slow down, consider my materials and enjoy the moment.
The versatility of the felt making process never ceases to amaze me and I enjoy exploring different ways of working with the variety of wools available. I take an experimental approach to the ancient craft of felt making to explore material combinations by fusing materials and processes. This method of working helps me make new discoveries and contributes to the ongoing evolution of my work.
The inspiration for my work comes from the natural world. Organic shapes, textures and patterns - in particular corals, bacteria and fungi, are as exciting to me as the texture of a pavement, stair tread or a concrete wall! I am continually inspired by wool as my medium, and make use of its memory, its ability to retain shapes, in my work to explore the fibres' potential to form sculptural, textured and raised surfaces. I achieve this by applying a variety of textiles techniques to manipulate the wool, using stitch, nuno, shibori and devore, to form permanent shapes and patterns which echo my sources of inspiration.
My work reflects my interest in how we experience and interpret surfaces and objects, our instinct to touch, and the importance of texture to our well being and the human condition. Using the felting process I investigate the relationship between actual and perceived textures, light, translucency and opacity. To this end I build surfaces with varying depths that reveal differing levels of textural complexity when unlit and lit from different directions. I use my hand felted textiles to create functional objects to evoke a sense of koselig - feelings of warmth and comfort with surfaces that engage the senses, invite touch and challenge the perception of felt.
Materials and Sustainability
Sustainable craftsmanship is a cornerstone of my practice. I aim to be a responsible maker using environmentally friendly, high quality natural materials. I individually design and hand craft each piece of felt from wool, silk and wood sourced from environmentally responsible suppliers and farms where I am assured that no museling takes place. To minimise waste and curb over production I make to order and create limited edition collections.
I studied at Newcastle College of Art and Art History & Architecture at the UEA in the early 90s before working as a Careers Adviser for a decade in Higher & Further Education. Becoming creatively frustrated, I began teaching children's craft workshops and undertook a Cert Ed Teacher Training qualification which led to teaching textiles for adults.
I was introduced to felt making over twenty years ago, and began exhibiting my work at local fairs and shops. Initially I made baby accessories and shoes with leather soles, hence the design name Silversoles. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response my work received, I took the plunge and left educational guidance in 2004 to concentrate on developing my career as a textile artist. My work has since evolved and changed direction, but the name Silversoles has stayed with me. I have since exhibited and sold my work via galleries, trade and retail shows in the UK and overseas, and continue to enjoy teaching textiles & felt making.
I recently undertook a MA in Textiles and Surface Design at Birmingham City University graduating with Distinction. My research focused on haptic perception and exploring ways to combine materials and processes with felt making, culminating in Translucency & Opacity, a collection of felted textiles for interiors.
I work from my home studio in Kings Heath, South Birmingham, where I live with my partner, three children, Dave & Mindy the cats and our chickens - Debbie, Siouxsie & Sam.