The long and winding thread….
Introducing our new textiles blogger, OCA tutor Trisha Goodwin. Trisha has already produced one interesting post, with the striking image of an embroidered rusty car door in it. Now she tells us more about her life and her work.
‘My route to becoming a textile artist/designer/tutor was not an obvious one, which I feel gives me particular empathy with many OCA students. The obsession to make started early; my own clothes while at primary school with the aid of a book and a cast off sewing machine. Several aunts worked for one of the Queen’s dressmakers, so maybe it was in the blood. I also painted rather fanciful large paintings with left over house paint – but I never connected the two activities at all. My own background and the times made art as a career highly unlikely. I had no knowledge that people even studied Textiles. Somewhat reluctantly I went to teacher training college (it was either this or nursing or secretarial work).
After college I took admin jobs at the London School of Economics, then the University of Oxford. The excitement of studying History of Art with the Open University (while I was working) was enormous, I relished the intellectual stimulation and obtaining a BA was a huge ambition fulfilled. Following this I worked as Photo Archivist at the Ashmolean Museum for many years. Still stitching, I went through quiltmaking, embroidery classes, and craft guilds and was now making and selling cushions and fabric bags to local shops and beyond. But even though I saw buyers at Liberty’s, I still didn’t feel as if I had the “proper” training. A leaflet about the OCA led me to doing all the Textiles courses available at that time. I learned so much, so quickly on these courses and had some wonderful tutors. For the first time, my making skills, the painting and drawing and the thinking behind the concepts all came together.
A chance email to BIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design brought an invitation to interview for a place on the combined postgraduate Textiles course. Most of my work at BIAD involved using found material, either from an urban environment or from nature and combining it with fabric in conceptual work. The bark pieces were a highly personal response to losing two people close to me weeks before the final exams; they are also about our being part of Nature. One of a series of pieces made with found bark, discovered in situ out hill walking. Fine silk and hand stitching; fabric manipulated around and though the bark, so that the structure “forms itself”. Commissions for bags and cushions also seem to be a constant, often utilising material personal to the user. I obtained a Pg. Cert in Textiles, Fashion and Surface Design in 2002, followed by a Pg. Dip in Textiles in 2003 and finally an MA in Textiles in 2004. I’ve been a tutor with the OCA since 2003; I enjoy seeing students’ blossom as they discover their own pathways.
The bag making took a curious turn as I was asked to design prototypes bags to house medical devices (worn by patients in hospitals).
Resisting the urge to add some decorative embroidery, this called on design skills learnt at BIAD involving Smart textiles. On a lighter note; a here’s a sample piece using plastic bags and ephemera collected from beauty counters, stitched and beaded.
When an aunt died recently, I inherited a large collection of dress fabric remnants from the 50s, 60s and 70s. My new ideas revolve around using these in new ways combined with paint and stitch. Now minimalism is officially dead, I feel set free to use these and so the challenge is on. A new direction is always exciting; so many possibilities.’
Trisha Goodwin (OCA Textiles tutor)