From an early age, my passion was natural history. Walks in the countryside just beyond my home with my Grandad, a knowledgeable countryman, i learnt to identify birds and flowers. My passion for nature took me to Manchester to study Zoology, but eventually I returned to the edge of the Fens, although the small market town has now become a development city and the countryside I walked in is now much further out of town. As I child, I made books and filled them with drawings of birds, turning to nature photography as a teenager - now natural history finds a way into my textiles.
Dressmaking, embroidery and knitting were a part of daily life, but were to become more than a practicality or pastime, and I began to study – eventually to degree level. I had foregone Zoology to follow a career in IT, as a software developer and analyst, but after graduation with a first class degree in Stitched Textiles I left IT, my career having gone from Science to Technology and finally Art.
This unusual path undoubtedly explains the content of my work - a fascination with the delicate balance of the natural world, the cycle of life. It reflects my concerns about the exploitation of nature and the earth's resources by man, disrupting this balance and resulting in habitat loss and accelerated climate change. This has a major impact on biodiversity, my lifelong passion. My work with structures and forms symbolizes this fragile web of connections.
My process revolves around constructing sculptural forms from thread. I use looping and knotting processes such as knitting and non traditional materials such as wire and paper thread. Research develops a narrative, another layer. For instance, my knitted plankton developed from my zoological background and computational algorithms to generate new 'mutated' life forms, representing evolutionary development. They were widely exhibited with the 'Hyperbolic Crocheted Coral Reef' despite being neither coral or crocheted.
I have also undertaken site-specific residencies in museums and heritage sites. Detailed research identifies stories and ideas that connect to personal themes, but the process has to be more flexible - calling on a wider skill set to make work appropriate to the site. This has included digitally printing over-scale feathers for Burghley House and a flock of birds screen printed with the poet John Clare’s handwriting for his dovecot. Although the work has a different impetus, I find subject matter recurring – creatures of the sea, birds, moths, hedges, trees, text - and connections becoming increasingly visible.