To fabric or not to fabric?

In the webinar this week I shared the three latest images I have created.

Two are part of my Harena Now series and one was part of my #365cyanotypechallenge.

IMG_4284-2 IMG_4271-2 IMG_4254-2

It was fabulous to get such supportive comments from my tutor and fellow students. My tutor Paul suggested I looked at the fabrics created at Charleston, the former home of the ‘Bloomsbury Set’, as he felt it was reminiscent of the work created there, with a view to considering turning my work into fabric or to offer workshops from the venue if it could be arranged.

I didn’t know too much about the house or the Bloomsbury Set, other than it related to a group of artists who made it their home.

On the Charleston website it is introduced as: “In 1916, on Virginia Woolf’s recommendation, the painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, his friend and lover David Garnett, and Vanessa Bell’s two sons, Julian aged 8 and Quentin aged 6, along with Henry the dog, moved to Charleston, an ordinary farmhouse in East Sussex. Dating from the late sixteenth century and altered in the nineteenth century, it had previously been used as a boarding house. It was to be occupied by the family and their friends for the next sixty-four years”.

Group member Quentin Bell described its latter incarnation as a house open to the public as, “a kind of time capsule in which the public can examine a world which has vanished”.

That sentence resonates with my Harena Now work as it tries to highlight how sand mining problems are changing environments to the extent that they vanish. Through my images the public can consider an almost ‘real-time capsule’ of a world that no longer exists.

Vanessa Bell, one of the original group, was a painter but also a fabric, carpet and embroidery designer. Her granddaughter Cressida Bell returns to the house to deliver workshops, herself being a textile and interiors designer – it seems that fabric design is a prominent part of the history of Charleston.

Now I know a little more about these artists, it is rather humbling to think someone can see synergy between their work and mine.

Although I work with cyanotype fabric, and have considered making one-off lampshades with it, I haven’t considered having my work printed onto material in a commercial, reproducible sense. Perhaps this is in part down to my preference to create work that is one-of-a-kind; I do think it is now worth reconsidering this to potentially create a sustainable part of my future business.

Clouds Fabric by Duncan Grant

Taking the example above of the work of Duncan Grant, it helps me to visualise how my work could be used this way.

I have already looked at having samples made; and have my eye on two chairs at home that would look fab with a new lease of fabric life.



Charleston. [accessed October 16, 2017]




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