Since I have become a textile artist myself, I seem to have made several wonderful friendships with some very talented stitchers.
Deborah Collum is one of them. This month’s blog features an interview with her. If you are lucky enough to visit one of her many exhibitions- do go. If not, pop and have a look at her website: www.deborahcollumloveart.uk or her Facebook page: Deborah Collum Love Art
How did you become a Textile Artist?
I’ve always loved art, both making and looking at it. As a child I was forever drawing, painting when possible, and enjoying any other arty activity offered. Funnily enough the one activity I didn’t enjoy was sewing: cross stitch on binca canvas, was way too restrictive (and too difficult) though a new box of anchor soft thread could practically cause me to salivate! Mmmmm…hello colour!
I worked in art colleges and galleries before becoming an art teacher after bringing up my children. Teaching art to teenagers threw up many exciting ideas and opportunities and perhaps everything I’ve done since has been an extension of what I learned in that role. Being a teacher is hard, leaving teaching even harder but the possibility of becoming an actual artist was most definitely alluring and having the time to do just that has been liberating. My first post-teaching pieces were paintings on paper but when I started to tear them up and sew them back together, a whole new world of possibilities appeared! A short hop from that work to using fabric – much more forgiving than paper – dusting off the sewing machine and venturing off into the unknown.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from all over. Last summer it was the Warwickshire landscape, rape fields, bluebell woods and patchwork fields. Sometimes the materials themselves are their own inspiration leading to purely abstract pieces. All my work, though, is inspired by the generations of women who stitched, knitted and crocheted to keep their families warm and their houses beautiful: such acts of love.
What materials and processes do you use?
I use absolutely anything that comes to hand though I do buy metres and metres of calico and embroidery thread. The calico is often just a base for layers over. Recently I’ve been using off cuts of sari silk because the colours are so rich and pure, on other occasions I have dyed or painted calico to get the desired colour. More recently still, I’ve been experimenting with a looser weave base and thicker yarns which give an altogether different effect. A typical process is to machine pieces of fabric together before over sewing by hand and decorating with beads or buttons. As far as I’m concerned, more is most definitely more when it comes to stitch and each piece is elaborately worked and worked again. I confess I have no training and no real technique – as is evident from the reverse sides. Please don’t look!
Where do you sell your work?
It’s always a joy when people swap their hard-earned cash for a piece of my work. I have a permanent slot at the Courtyard Gallery near Stratford on Avon which showcases the work of local artists. I exhibit in local exhibitions such as the Stratford Art Fair, and occasionally mount a solo show: Acts of Love at the Weavers Gallery in Ledbury (7-13 May) will be my first solo textiles exhibition. There will be a wide variety of my work on display there, the whole range.
Where do you think you are on your creative journey?
I’m enjoying this journey immensely. Creating the work is so rewarding and satisfying that I couldn’t stop if I tried and I do sometimes worry about cluttering this poor planet with yet more Stuff. I also sometimes look at what I produce and wonder if I should concentrate on a single type of work, landscapes perhaps, but I simply can’t. All the work cries out to be made and I’m not getting any younger: to quote the incomparable Picasso ‘Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone’.
I hope your forthcoming exhibition goes well Debs- Good Luck xx