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  Selected Makers

Myra Hutton

Having lived on the edge of the beautiful Ilkley Moor whilst studying Textile Art & Dress &Textile Design at Ilkley College, I wanted to find ways to represent and capture the essence of the countryside. Lichen on gnarled worn gateposts, vegetation growing on dry stone walling, the varying tones and textures of the heath-land. However it was many years before I eventually found the key to what I’d been searching for back on Ilkley Moor. I discovered felt-making and have never looked back.

I like to think of my felted landscapes as a traditional craft with a contemporary twist. My work generally consists of densely textured layers exploring colour and texture through a fusion of natural fibres, hand dyed fabrics, and embellished hand-made felt, creating rich landscapes, sunsets, seascapes and ‘English country gardens’. When viewed from a distance my work is often assumed to be an oil or acrylic painting and viewers are often genuinely amazed on closer inspection to find that it is in fact a textile piece.

Using wool fibres in a ‘painterly’ way, I create blocks of vibrant colour, blending and shading as I go before wet felting. I create the whole piece in one, taking care not to over felt as a slightly loose surface adds to the textural effect I’m after; this felt becomes my canvas. Once dry I’ll build up the layers with textured embellishment and use the sewing machine as a drawing tool to bring the picture alive.  

For a landscape I’ll gently ‘sculpt’ my work into sections pleating and tucking into place, giving the piece a 3D effect with depth and definition to fields and hills. I introduce detail through representations of felted or dye painted buildings and free hand machine embroidered vegetation, if it’s a dry stone wall, tree trunk or gatepost it’ll be separately worked and blended with machine drawn texture and detail. To finish there’ll often be a handful of machine embroidered and hand stitched wild flowers, sometimes sheep in the distance and usually a ‘signature’ machine embroidered poppy or sunflower. Seascapes may have feathers and fibres for movement, tiny beads or reflective stitches for a glint of sun on water.

I also work in an illustrative way with dye, appliqué and stitch, in an ink and wash style exploring the linear qualities of architecture and objects, producing contemporary scenes and images. Sometimes I’ll combine elements of my illustrative work with my embellished felt work.

With inspiration from my natural surroundings and experiences I found I could draw on the hues, shapes and textures of land, sea and air with the influences of the elements aiming to capture the essence of a place or scene. Whenever I’m out and about I’ll sketch and take endless photographs, drinking in the tones, looking for the beauty and the beast, I love tumble down buildings, unruly wildness, broken gateways against the fertile greens and browns of the rolling Tuscan landscape or the dark earthy secrecy of a wooded area, the moss and lichen covered walls of the Dales or Lakes.

Some of my pieces are box framed to accommodate the depth and to enable the piece to ‘breathe’, often they’ll spill out of the mount with an organic edged ‘dry stone wall’. My ‘open’ pieces invite interaction from the viewer, very textured and tactile they can be gently tweaked. I’ll often leave the bottom edge of a piece in its organic shape to give the feeling of being able to just step into it. Where feathers or loose fibres are used, a light breeze can add movement.

I often sell a piece of work because it evokes happy memories of a special place for the purchaser. My felt pieces are to ‘lose’ yourself in and can constantly offer something new for the spectator to notice.

For commissioned pieces I can work with the client to bring together all their favourite elements of a place, capturing the essence and meaning of their own uniquely special place.

 
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