Biography of career and design work
From a childhood love of drawing and teenage self teaching of sewing, I went to a general art school at 16. I had taken the school's new commercial course with no art or sewing, so I enjoyed being creative full time again. In order to be a financially independent student after leaving home, I worked as a shorthand typist/secretary for three years before re-embarking on 4 year Degree course specialising in Printed Textile Design.
I only returned to textiles after travelling and being settled in Gibraltar having young children. As an expert dressmaker, I set out to be self employed, taking in made to measure commissions and alterations. I also taught myself to do boat upholstery, another income source during sojourn in Gibraltar, with so many visiting boats.
On returning to UK 1987, I took a Post Graduate textiles course at Central St. Martins with the aim to be a freelance textile designer. A young London studio team employed me to paint their designs which got me trained to produce commercial designs from home, some of which were sold at international trade fairs. Supplementary income was from soft furnishings making; finding my own clients. I had gained experience in Gibraltar, subsequently becoming very proficient in curtain making, blinds and covers.
1994 I moved to Devon and a Crafts Centre studio where I mastered silk painting, an enjoyable new skill. I took the Adult Teacher's Certificate for which I developed silk painting and wood decorative painting lessons. These last two were new skills. I continued with part time furnishings employment and boat upholstery until furniture painting took over my time, working from a Quayside furniture shop, where I painted furniture for the shop and own clients who visited the shop. Many commissions were undertaken [page link] while I sought more mural work for the challenge to develop artistry skills. Local interior design contacts referred me for commissions.
After a long intensive period of furniture painting the shop/workshop changed hands, and I focused on murals and crafts tutoring work. In 2005 I took a TESOL Teacher course; then taught English to French, German and Spanish teenagers in Devon and Dorset summer schools. It was fortunate I set a change of course, as after painting the Cathedral for the local Council offices 2006, I was stopped in my tracks, due to a major operation needing long recovery time 2-5 years and which stopped mural works as they required balancing and stretching from ladders. I had to forget my mural ambitions, as this was a life changing period. I also ceased the heavy work of boat upholstery.
A pivotal period when along with language teaching in summer schools, and supply teaching, I made clothes regularly for a local Devon fashion label 'Where Are You Now' sold in London Top Shop.
After a year's temporary Textile Technician 2008-09 in a high school, I was even more focused on designing and making clothes, fashion design having been an ambition since childhood, and when at Manchester University 1st year Fashion Design (before changing to textiles). Shamanic Nights ethical craft business started from my recycled fabrics collection which is now rather large, continually added to and will keep me going for many years. Envisioned firstly as a quilting enterprise, hence 'Nights', patchworks morphed into dressing gowns and on suggestion by craft fair visitors, developed into various unique ladies' fashions; done more for the love of the craft than profitability. I was one of the first 500 members of the international, London based 'Ethical Fashion Forum' (now Common Objective), who promoted recycled and sustainably sourced fabrics. My work was featured on their annual video platform shows. Silk paintings are included in some garments. Visions are now for special kimonos and quilts again, reflecting the name ethos. In 2011 Totnes Costume Museum featured my work in their curated theme 'Innovation and Fashion'.
I was commissioned in 2012 to repaint all the murals at Exeter St. Davids Railway Station; a large project requiring scaffolding in the cold, which I was happily fit to do by that time. The original artist's paintwork, based on Michael Angelo figures, was wearing off badly after 20 years. Now, thanks to new paint and varnish, they are as good as new, the colours exactly as I applied 10 years ago.
From 2010 - 2019 focus was on patchwork clothes making, selling at craft shows, having acquired the necessary organisation skills and equipment for display. I also enjoyed the challenge of tutoring summer TEFL schools, homestay one-one intensive courses, and nightly online classes 2010 -18.
By 2020 and semi retired, with no craft shows operating during lockdown, I learned to create new websites for my enterprises; four in final stages of completion 2022. Paintings on wood are currently in development, having missed painting during a long period of sewing!
SILK PAINTING - SEWING - WOOD PAINTING occupy my creative hours. The next challenge will be developing prints from my landscape photographs to be manipulated and reproduced on silk and wood. Working with colour is a joy using my intuitive colour mixing skills, while the experience gained painting shabby chic furniture inspires techniques of sanding paint layers to artistic effect, all of which will become an exploration towards large paintings.