I chose to study fine art textiles because of my love of gorgeous fabrics; silks, satins, velvets, brocades. Having experimented with traditional techniques of applique while studying for my degree at Goldsmiths College in London, I pioneered a technique of textile collage using heat fusible adhesive. This offered the huge advantage that the fabrics could be used with the weave of the fabric running at any angle, rather than all in one direction. With my use of light-reflective fabrics, each collage becomes a play on light, shifting and changing depending on where the viewer stands, and what light shines on the artwork.
My collages are formed of hand-dyed fabrics, using different types of dye for the different fibres. Procion dyes for natural fibres such as silk, Disperse dyes for synthetic fibres.
After dyeing, a layer of heat fusible glue is ironed onto the back of all the fabric. This holds the weave together allowing the cutting of very fine pieces and clean edges. Very sharp scissors are used to cut the fabrics. Each collage is built up, layer upon layer, and when complete the glue is fixed with steam.
Care of collages
The character of each piece changes depending on where it is hung and the changing light through the day, so it can be fun to experiment with where to hang the artwork. The dyes used in these collages are as light fast as technology allows but, as with most artworks, they should not be hung in direct sunlight.
If dust is an issue, use the curtain (drapes) attachment on a vacuum cleaner and work over the artwork very gently. This is only to be done on a very occasional basis or the cut edges in the collage can become frayed.
The collages are flexible and shipped rolled in a tube. To hang a textile collage, roll it on a cardboard tube starting at the bottom of the piece with the image inwards, until the batten at the top is exposed. The batten is then placed against the wall with the artwork held above, positioned so that the image will face forward when unrolled. Once leveled, the batten can be either screwed or nailed onto the wall through the drilled holes. The piece is then unrolled and the batten does not show. This is a job for two people.
Each collage hangs from a wooden batten that is hidden from the front. If a more formal presentation is required the batten can be detached and the artwork sewn to a fabric matt.
Exceptions to the use of a wooden batten are the boulder pieces which have been sewn onto stretched linen, and the foot square collages which come in a simple white painted wooden frame. I do not put glass in-front of my collages, however if you feel the need of this protection then it is important to place a spacer between the art and glass to hold them apart. It is therefore important to choose a frame deep enough to accommodate this. Never use non-reflective glass as light reflection is an integral part of each artwork.
The light reflective nature of the artworks means that they can be enhanced by thoughtful lighting. The modern LED lights are ideal, providing a white light that emits very little or no UV. Wide angle spotlights are recommended, placed sufficiently far away so that the lighting covers the whole artwork.