Daughter of graphic designer parents, niece of a photographer, painter and printmaker, granddaughter of a wedding photographer and painter, my destiny was set very early on by the influences of my forebears; I was going to be arty; speciality unspecified and to be honest that’s how it has been throughout my life.
Growing up there was always creative stuff happening at home; Dad had his lashed up rostrum camera on the landing next to my bedroom, and the airing cupboard doubled up as a film dryer. Mum made clothes for me and my sister and we used the scraps to create matching outfits for our teddies and dolls.
One Christmas Mum and Dad made us glove puppets, a prince and princess with heads moulded from light bulbs, and a spectacular dragon. Our birthday parties were famed for their making activities that Mum would dream up, I remember peg doll fairies were particularly successful.
And that’s how it started, TV was black and white and childrens programmes ran from four until six finishing with the ‘Magic Roundabout’, there was a lot of time to fill, and I drew and stitched, entered art and craft competitions, wrote to the BBC’s ‘Blue Peter’ with suggestions for projects they could make, (I was particularly proud of my finger puppet theatre made from an Easter egg box,) and had a painting included in the gallery on ‘Vision On’.
I didn’t have a clear idea as to what I was going to do as an adult but as long as it involved being creative I knew I would be happy.
Living the dream
I joined the BBC’s graphic design department a year after graduating and my first job was animating an extremely large amount of Lego, closely followed by hand stitching ‘B B C” embroidered buttons onto twenty seven Pudsey bears. I worked on everything from ‘Our Friends in the North’ to ‘Tracy Beaker’, ‘Children’s Hospital’ to the Queen’s Christmas speech and I loved it. I even got the opportunity to direct programmes about art and design for the schools department.
I was living my dream at Television Centre, Wood Lane W12 8QT one of the most exciting and famous addresses in Britain.
I left the BBC once I had my children and moved out of London.
Teaching and talking
Over the years I have acted as mentor to several students, a role I relished, drawing them out, encouraging them to explore their own creative possibilities, something I still get enormous satisfaction from.
I also ran the Film and Animation School at Kingston University, a role I loved. These days I run numerous courses, textiles, paper cutting, patch working, and a bit of photography, to students of all ages at a variety of locations. It is enormously rewarding, passing on knowledge and sharing experiences and seeing students develop in to confident designers and makers.
I regularly give talks to interested groups including WI, U3A and patchworking groups. I offer three different talks all of which are well illustrated with lots of images and hands on resources.
I began stitching when I was very young, outfits for my teddy, stuffed creatures and very simple clothes. These days it’s patchwork quilts that excite me, I like the practical aspect of the finished item but also the designing and the recycling aspect. You could not describe me as a fat quarters quilter, I don’t stitch by the rules and rarely buy new fabrics. Instead I prefer delving in to my collections and making do with what I have already, much of which has been donated, or bought at car boots and jumble sales. I mix and match velvets and linens, ticking and denim and am not too concerned about mitered corners. I like to think that my approach is about going back to the origins of patch working, when a valued family possession was created from available materials. Find about more about booking a Stiching Courses.
I was on a rather extended trip to Canada when I taught myself paper cutting, I needed to send birthday cards and gifts home and these hand cut panels were perfect. I had plenty of time on my hands, a ‘Dollar Store’ in the town, (great for paper and foam board) and a scalpel. I have refined my technique over the years and now teach many creative paper cutting courses with terrific results. It’s a low cost, visually pleasing craft which students find enjoyable and rewarding, and often take up. Find about more about booking a Paper Cutting and other Courses.
Designer Maker Seller
I was asked to teach at Art in Action a couple of years ago and was given a stand to sell my stuff from – what stuff though? Most of my makes are for friends and I didn’t make things en masse, but my paper cuts were well liked so I took the plunge and designed, cut and had printed five greetings cards, tea towels and a limited edition of giclee prints. They sold well and I had a great response in my visitors’ book. Since then I have extended the card range, and produced some specials for Christmas and had a tote bag printed. See a full list of Courses.
Never one to say no to creative challenge has resulted in me taking on some odd jobs including making eighty velvet scarves for the opening night of ‘Mary Poppins’ on Broadway NYC, filming a funeral for the Queen, and costume and set designing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for our local primary school.
I have co-written a book ,‘Contemporary Needlepoint’, an inspirational collection of contemporary designs, updating this most traditional of crafts and designed a needlepoint kit for the National Trust.
I won Kodak’s Young Photographer of the Year and my work on ‘Cambridge Spies’ was nominated for a BAFTA.