Nature inspires Swanmore textile artist

6th January, 2022 | 0 comments

Wessex Guild chair, Sheila Barrow, says the natural world was the catalyst that pushed her to create her latest textile art pieces. Here she shares her thoughts on creativity during, and post, lockdown.

After the lockdowns of 2020, when so many gatherings were cancelled, it was lovely to get out and take part in two events with the Wessex Guild in 2021. I, and several other Guild members, displayed a variety of craft work at two of our regular venues – the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens craft fair at Romsey, and at the Hampshire Open Studios in Swanmore. 

It was great to speak to different people about the craft work we managed to produce over lockdown. Visitors seemed enthusiastic about seeing and buying the beautiful pieces on offer.

My blue ‘Wild Chicory’ picture (see main image above) was inspired by a field of blue flowers near Swanmore Primary School in Hampshire. I took several photos on our walks during lockdown as the flowers made such a beautiful sweep of colour. However, I must admit that I had to look up the name of the type of flower online, as I wasn’t sure it was chicory. 

The piece was painted with acrylic paints on a used paper tablecloth (I am keen on recycling), which was then bonded on to cotton sheeting, stitched using free machine embroidery and further embellished with hand stitching.

The inspiration for the large ‘Eucalyptus Trees’ picture (below, left) was a walk around the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at Romsey on a frosty autumnal morning in September 2021. 

I found the contrast between the white trunks and the peeling bark of the Eucalyptus amazing. This meant another picture came about. 

This piece was painted on the other half of the paper table covering. It was embellished with hand stitch and free machine embroidery and then over-painted with more acrylic paint to give the picture its frosty feel.

I am currently working on another large picture based on pictures of the New Forest that a friend sent me. She rides her horse through the trees there and takes some fabulous pictures on her phone. This piece is called ‘Reflections’ (above, right).

Another new avenue for me during lockdown was the creation of miniature pictures (see below). These are 6cm x 6cm and are painted with acrylic paint on cotton rag paper and muslin, embellished with hand stitching and free machine embroidery. They are unfinished, as they need to be mounted and possibly framed.

I also tried making some eco-dyed papers. I felt these weren’t terribly successful, but I did had fun over-painting with watercolours, acrylic inks and paints. It was good to try something different during those unprecedented times.

See more of Sheila’s work on her member page.

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