I was first introduced to batik at the age of 14 when my art teacher got a book out of the library. Together we bought Helizarin dyes from a back-street screen printing workshop in Peckham and I am still using the same type today. Being screen-printing pigment dyes, they must be brushed on, not dipped (they are too thick and creamy), too stiff for clothing or scarves, perfect for framed pictures and lampshades, with all my work done on pure cotton. The buying of these ‘wrong’ dyes has shaped the development of my work ever since and has made it stand out as different from the rest. I have been making my living with my batik work now for well over 40 years.
In the early eighties, after finding myself a single parent with two young children, out of necessity I went down the commercial path, selling prints, cards and paperweights of my work at trade exhibitions. In just a few years I was selling my work and reproductions of my work to over 800 shops worldwide. In the late eighties the Department of the Environment commissioned large architectural works of the Royal Palaces and in 1992 I was commissioned by Marks & Spencer to do their English Country Calendar and Diary. All this time I was working constantly and my original framed batik paintings and lampshades were shown at various exhibitions, the lampshades being particularly popular as they display the work back-lit so successfully. Over the years my influences have been not only the British countryside, especially the drystone walls of the North, but also an enduring love affair with Venice, its crumbling stonework and reflections.
Now in my 60s, I am in the enviable position of being able to work just for myself and leave behind the insatiable demands of the marketplace. I choose my own subjects and when working to commission, take only the jobs I want. I took on perhaps my most challenging architectural commission to date, the interior of Gladstone's Library. Like most of my framed work, this is displayed back-lit on a light-box and is on show at the library near Chester.
Much of my recent work is of Venice and my fascination with reflections in water but in the last few months I have been working on some new Art Nouveau flower pieces. My work, displayed back-lit in frames or as hand-made lampshades, uses the translucency of the wax-impregnated cloth and the depth of colour to give the work a dramatic, almost ‘stained glass’ effect.
I joined the Guild briefly many years ago but have worked in self imposed isolation since then. Now that I am once more in the Guild, I’m looking forward to being able to ‘talk batik’ at last to people who know what I’m on about!
I live in beautiful rural Shropshire on the banks of the Llangollen Canal and have a studio and gallery in a 17th century canalside barn where I show my work. The gallery is open to the public for a month each year for my Summer Exhibition. All the details can be found on my website using the link below.