Thread Stick, 2021

Thread Sticks, hazel branches, thread, 198cm and 172cm 

These are as yet untitled, siblings of the first Thread Stick made in 2016 using a cherry branch and my auntie Jessie's threads. 

The colourful stick is made using all the reels of thread from my mum's sewing tin. It is incredibly precious and I see her wardrobe in the reels purchased to mend her clothes. The black and brown stick is made using my aunt Jessie's threads - it was challenging working with the curves of that particular branch.

The threads are meticulously wrapped, thread next to thread until the surface of the branch is covered. Tight wrapping allows the form and undulation of each branch to shine through, tension creates a surface sheen. 

I played with the sticks in and around Haarlem Artspace and enjoyed walking with the sticks and finding their balance point in both hands. 
Virtual Residency, Haarlem Artspace, 2020

Wise words

Gifted stick

Drinking trough and listening circle drawing

Hob Wood

Salt lick

Flail fail

Rosehip and hawthorn


Heart's ease syrup

Selected artists at Haarlem Artspace spent a week together exploring new processes and ideas, checking in with twice daily Zoom sharing. Daily, I walked a 3 mile circular route around Haarlem, consciously tuning into the landscape and experience of walking. The walk became a ritual, a protective encircling with the studio at its centre. 

Photographs, listening circle drawings and a herbal remedy (made with berries gathered as I walked) were outcomes from the Virtual Residency.

Read my daily reflections here: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5
Daughters of Daughters, 2020

The idea for Daughters of Daughters came to me during Summer Lodge 10 at Nottingham Trent University last summer

During the last days of my mum's life I sat with her in the palliative care unit. I tried to soak up her presence, the form of her body under the hospital blanket, knowing our time together was coming to an end. She was on morphine, unconscious and not wanting to leave anything unsaid I thanked her out loud for birthing me, a difficult first delivery. During this time I understood Doreen was my vessel to earth, my spaceship. 

Our mothers are our spaceships. 

I thought of her mother, and her mother, and her mother... the daughters who birthed daughters who birthed daughters, reaching back to unremembered time. I am the end of this line, no daughter for me.

In early summer I began to hand stitch eight organza dress forms, joining them at the navel with a 10cm circle of stitches, representing a fully dilated cervix.

It's important that I name the seven women behind me, Ancestry helped name five: Doreen, Ada, Hannah, Mary and Ann. Ann was born in Norfolk in 1795 and the records go no further, when I'm able I will journey to Norfolk and trace the mother and grandmother of Ann.        
Branch, 2020

During my MA in 2003 I visited Epping Forest near my childhood home and wrapped white acrylic yarn around the trunks of a copse of young trees. Over the years I revisited the copse and in 2018 removed the yarn. 

The yarn soaked up lichen and matter from the woods, creating a mottled grey lichen stiffened thread. For two years I kept this precious bundle and after gathering two branches on a woodland walk in Derbyshire decided to 3D print the branches in knit.

Trough trial and error I replicated the branches in hand knit using double-point needles, increase and decrease. Knowing how to make a sock was a great advantage. Carefully feeling the twists and undulations of each branch. Unwinding and re-knitting one branch dissatisfied by the accuracy of my first efforts. Yarn passing twice through my fingers in slow, puzzled learning. 

And, now these forms exist, soft, foldable, reminding me of snakeskin. What shedding occurred as I made? What growth? 
Found Flora and Ceramic Shards, 2019

Plant stem found in secondhand flower press
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Flower found in secondhand flower press
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Leaf (front and back) found in a secondhand book on birds nests and eggs
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A4

Pansy found in a secondhand book on South African birds
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Four-leaf clover found in secondhand edition of Mrs Beaton's Cookbook
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Four-leaf clover found in secondhand edition of Mrs Beaton's Cookbook
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Ceramic shard found in the soil on a woodland path
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Ceramic shard found in the soil on a woodland path
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano watercolour paper, A5

Flora concealed within the pages of secondhand books and flower presses, ceramic shards discovered facedown in the soil of woodland paths: I reveal and lavish attention on these forgotten, hidden and discarded signs of life. Rich with unknown stories, meaning and histories I drew to scale and painted their likeness in watercolour. Some were straightforward to capture, others took days and days layering paint to achieve accurate colour and surface texture.   
Summer Lodge, Nottingham Trent University 2019  

Summer Lodge 10 - carry/hold

I've carried these reels of thread around with me since 2003. They were bought in a box of odds and ends from the Constance Howard collection during my MA at Goldsmiths. While packing my bag for Summer Lodge I gathered the rust/blood ones from the box - just in case.

Like many, I hold the beginnings of ideas/unresolved work/instinctual work as thoughts and objects. Summer Lodge provided the perfect opportunity to sit with this (reels and button handkerchiefs in particular) and allow space for it to speak.

Rust was my mum's favourite colour. I've yet to meet another for whom this is the case. The eight reels became one thread, and after a painstaking and frustrating two and a half days I worked out how to knit them together to form an umbilical type cord. The process took most of Summer Lodge and surprised me. I'd not planned to make a cord, yet here it was forming and becoming in my hands.

The work was emotionally painful and I've not yet processed it. I thought about the women before me who birthed daughters and then I, childless, being the last of the line. The woman before me are Doreen, Ada, Hannah and I plan to trace back the mother of Hannah and beyond so I have eight names, including my own. As I knitted another work appeared in my head, a series of eight connected dress forms in red organza - an idea to carry for a while.

I suspended a handkerchief and let it surprise me each morning. I've held the idea for many years of stitching buttons to a bedsheet and this was a maquette of that. I wonder at the weight of a bedsheet, of how it would feel to lie under, could it be cool and comforting? Might it suffocate? Unprompted, Milly, one of the studio assistants lay under the handkerchief and looked up at the buttons, remarking on how beautiful some of them were.

Summer Lodge provided a space in which new work formed, ideas emerged and old ideas were reaffirme
d. The support and positivity from particular studio assistants and participating artists was also most welcome.
aa2a Project, University of Derby 2018-2019 

 Dry stone wall boundary of Uttley's farm

Fairy Tales by Alison Uttley
Illustrated by Ann Strugnell
 The Field that Didn't Wish for Company 

Hawthorn hedgerow linocut print

Rock and a Hard Place
Pillowcase, thread

My mum died in 2017. When I lived in London there were constant reminders of mum and her family who lived for generations in central London. From my bedroom window the BT Tower was visible on the far horizon. This totem transported me back to memories of Auntie Lil's spotless kitchen in Camden Town, where the tower loomed large beyond the window, and of Uncle Fred who lived a stones throw from the tower off Oxford Street. At Leytonstone tube the Central Line could take me to mum's house and Epping Forest where reminders abound. Taking or not taking these journeys wasn't the point, the associations and memories were sparked, keeping Doreen Edna Logan and my London ancestors present somehow.

Moving to Derbyshire removed this layer of association. The land holds no family connection, and this fact has left me adrift somedays while I sit with complicated feelings. When packing up my flat I had the foresight to include my precious handful of childhood storybooks. Immediately after moving to Derbyshire I reread these books, wishing to reconnect with Mum and wondering about my adult reading of these tales with a birds eye view of childhood.

One story, The Woodcutter's Daughter by Alison Uttley stood out. It was eerily familiar, like recalling a fragmented dream. It tells the story of Cherry-blossom who lives in a forest with her elderly parents, a girl who sews by the fire, who mends and makes. When Mum read these stories to my sister and I she slept in the room with us. Looking back I realise she was using us as protection. My dad was an alcoholic and Mum suffered years of domestic violence. That was the backdrop to fairytales in our house. 

After re-reading the stories I became intrigued by the author: Alison Uttley. I was astonished to discover that Alison was born three miles from where I live. The seed of an idea began to form and I walked to her house the following weekend.

My childhood memories are tainted and complex and I decided to explore my associations with The Woodcutter's Daughter and bedtime story telling within my aa2a placement. This idea led to drawing, painting, walking, writing, printing, stitching and taking beginners courses in hedge laying and dry stone walling. The boundary around Alison Uttley's farm birthplace got me thinking about boundaries and respect. 
The outcomes produced are a process, a beginning.
Close Knit, 2009-2019

Close Knit: held together, as by social or cultural ties: a close-knit family.

Jessie, Alexina, John, Robert, 2009

Jessie, 2009

Marjory, 2009

Ada, Evelin, Lilian, 2009

Krysia, 2011

Violet, 2014

Sandy, 2016

George, 2018

Doreen, 2018

Frederick (grave unfound within the trees), 2019

Frederick, 2019

 Henry, 2019

The title of this work is tongue in cheek, my immediate family were far from close knit. There were secrets. Looking back it was as if my parents were in hiding, and I didn't get to know them, nor they me. My dad was a month shy of his 55th birthday, and my mum 35 when I was born, they were the youngest in their families so my childhood/teenage years were punctuated with illness and death.

There was much trauma and grief in my upbringing, family tales were rare, it seemed that talking of the past caused much emotional pain. Into this mix sensitive me appeared, soaking up the weight, the dread, pointing out the un-say-able. 

Close knit took a decade to make, it's an unusual family album exploring family history, textile process, landscape and loss. Purposely using the first stitch my mum taught me Close Knit records and commemorates my family, linking people and place. Making the work involved research, sensitive detective work and travel throughout the UK.   

The knits function in dual ways, they unify and identify the plots and lairs as important, they reveal and simultaneously conceal the identities of the interred, giving no clue to my relationship to them. 

As I sat knitting in public three older ladies passed by grinning, my knitting was baby pink and beginning to look like a blanket. One asked, 'Do you know it’s a girl?', I nodded smiling, thinking to myself of the girls that had been my grandmother and aunts.
Hawthorn, 2018 

Hawthorn in a holly grove

The tree hand embroidered onto this child's nightgown grows at the end of Englands Lane in Loughton, Essex. As a girl I sat beneath its branches with my beloved flower fairy book. This memory leads to the next, that afternoon I developed sun stroke and spent the rest of the day in our back bedroom, curtains drawn, being sick. This memory is vivid and hazy all at once.

I moved from London to Derbyshire in Autumn 2018 and knowing I'll no longer walk past this tree stitched Hawthorn to commemorate the tree/my childhood.
Embroidery & Thread Stick, 2016

Auntie Jessie's thread

Thread Stick 
Cherry branch, thread

Living room studio

Path, work in progress

Branch, work in progress

Handkerchief, thread
24cm x 23.5cm

Handkerchief, thread
24.5cm x 25cm

Handkerchief, thread
30.5cm x 31cm

Handkerchief, thread
26.5cm x 27cm

As a child sewing tins were a treasure trove to me. Reels of thread, press studs, hooks & eyes, buttons, precious packages of needles with evocative logos and unfamiliar price tags. The fluff, the stuff of ages past, of hopes, of mendings.

When my cousin Krysia died in 2009 my sister and I emptied her house in Elgin, Scotland, a home once shared with her mum, Jessie. The house and loft were packed with possessions and during our repeated visits we sorted, organised and cleared away their lifetimes. Magpie me was drawn to Jessie's sewing and button tins, and I gathered them together with a pile of plaid, plain, monogrammed and embroidered handkerchiefs found in the house. This year in my first owned living space, I've begun to experiment and play with these precious materials, heavy with family history. My aunt died in 1997 and by working with threads she selected we collaborate, making magic in Thread Stick.

Using photographs taken while walking and an embroidery hoop, circular images emerged and I hand stitched these into the handkerchiefs. The woodlands depicted are far from suburbia, in parts of Derbyshire well known to me, unpeopled sites with clear and hidden pathways. Landscape, family history and slow textile process meet within this new body of work.

In Close Knit, you can see the heart shaped gravestone cosies I knitted for Jessie (2009) and Krysia (2011).
Girlhood, 2015

Girlhood, 2015 
Large format photograph

First experiment with stitched arms and woodland

Hand stitched arms using vintage bedding and aprons

Orange blanket

There were no houses opposite my childhood home, a view of Epping Forest filled my bedroom window. I walked alone there as a child and have since recognised the forest was a safe place (in contrast to an unsafe home) and wanted to represent my child self using fabrics from my childhood era. Some of the fabrics used are my mothers aprons, pillow cases and blankets from home, some were sourced in charity shops. I traced my friends eight year old daughter's arm many years ago, this tracing and my first experiments lay dormant for a time, and this year I decided to see the idea through and stitch ten pairs of arms by hand. It took months.

The work was staged in Epping Forest and with the help of a photographer I made a large format image.
Interior Lightning, Navigation Warehouse, Wakefield 2011

Interior Lighting was a group show created by staff at The Hepworth Wakefield. My installation took four and a half days to install using nine balls of acrylic yarn, and that time again to raise my arms above my head without wincing. Interior Lightning included painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, intervention and installation.

My installation was inspired by Hepworth's use of string within particular sculptures and a desire to play with an illusion of colour mixing in space. This work continues my fascination with elevating low value materials using time consuming processes.
The Market Estate Project, N7, London 2010 

Yarn has an association with homespun activity, of comfort and familiarity. Using yarn in the simple act of wrapping bannisters created an alteration in the everyday experience of this stairway setting. Conversely, the covering revealed and delineated the usually passed over and unconsidered, providing a visual and tactile experience that altered as hands grasped the banister and dislodged yarn. While wrapping I inhabited the stairway for three days, settling in a (non)space that others pass through from one place to another.
Cut It Out, The Otter Gallery, Chichester, Southampton City Art Gallery, Bentliff Art Gallery, Maidstone 2009

Lair, 2009

Benliff Art Gallery, Kent

Making commissioned work for Cut It Out allowed space to explore a process that was a relatively new departure to my usual method of making. This work continues my interest in using simple processes to transform the value of second hand or cheap materials through time-consuming work. A theme that runs through much of my practice is a juxtaposition of inside/outside, particularly in relation to notions of home and nature. I purposely selected wallpaper printed with a vine motif and with scalpel in hand attempted to return the regulated/repeated version of nature to a three dimensional form closer to that of the original plant.
Momento, E17 Arts Trail, London 2008

The use of handkerchiefs as a commemorative device inspired embroidery of snippets of text onto vintage hankies. The texts came from varied sources: a postcard dated 1907 and letters/notes on the backs of photographs that belonged to my father. 
Incandescent: Light Night, Hull Art Lab, Hull 2006

Making the line

Installing lights

Installation image taken by Gary Pickles

A night of outdoor, live events featuring surprises, quirks and charms from four commissioned artists. Light Night was part of Incandescent, a month of events organise by Hull Art Lab exploring the spectacle of illumination in Hull.

The installations aim was to disrupt the familiar, to simultaneously deceive, while also enticing the viewer to linger in a place usually hurried through. The work is a continuation of my experimentation creating illusion in situ using basic materials and simple, clunky processes. The lights lasted eight hours and this temporality interested me and is key in creating an experience of apparition. One viewer asked, 'Where is the light projected from?'. 900 lights manufactured for night fishing were used in the installation.
Goldsmiths College, University of London, 2002-2003

There's No Place Like Home

Ribbon House

Yarn Line

These images illustrate playful experiments in woodland using torchlight, laser, yarn and ribbon. The time and support during my MA enabled the exploration of my practice in my childhood stomping grounds of Epping Forest.