I make small scale finely woven tapestries. I love colour, line, pattern and I aim for a balance between tension and harmony in my designs.
1. One favourite living craft maker...
I admire Dail Behennah's work very much. She has a unique vision, her own vocabulary which she is always pushing and extending. Her work is deceptively simple but requires impeccable calculation, preparation and execution. Despite this it never feels in any way forced.
One favourite living artist...
Breon O'Casey who has always gone his own way regardless of fashion. He maintains that 'the more simply you can do something, the better'. I'd go along with that.
Last art/craft/design thing you purchased. What one product/item do you really covet and why?
The last thing I purchased was a mosaic hand by Cleo Mussi at Origin last year. I exhibited too and it was my present to myself at the end of an enjoyable but hard week! I love her sense of humour. What I covet is a tapestry by Jo Barker. Her use of colour is literally stunning. Standing in front of one of her tapestries you feel the saturation and richness of colour on a deep physical level. I have just the space for one too!
At age 15 who influenced your style? Wasthere any individulal who very much helped you on your way?
Aged 15 I did a weekend course in spinning, dyeing and weaving with Mary O'Rourke in the Dublin mountains. That weekend led me to taking a year out before university to go to Grennan Mill Craft School where I met the Dutch tapestry weaver Liesbeth Fonkert and started to learn to weave. Whilst there I wrote to the late Alec Pearson seeking guidance - he took the time and trouble to send me a very kind, considered and encouraging reply. I never did take up the university place but did a degree in woven tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art which I guess has something to do with those three people.
How much do you bend your vision to suit the marketplace?
Not at all. If the marketplace doesn't like what I make I have plenty of wallspace.
Who would you say buys your work?
It's usually people who have a particular interest in textiles and quite often some practical experience.
How do you set about starting a new project?
I draw and I make collages using found paper. I find my use of colour is much more interesting if I'm not mixing it! I like the flexibility of collage - being able to move elements around, add and subtract with ease.
Where and what is your studio?
At the moment I work in a room in my house but am in the process of converting an old henshed in the garden. I listen to Radio 4 most of the time - it's good company.
Favourite art websites?
I enjoy reading maker's blogs. I have chosen a relatively isolated place to live and weaving is a solitary activity so it's nice to get a virtual glimpse into other people's studios, methods, working practices etc. My favourite is Sue Lawty's ' Concealed, Discovered, Revealed' blog started during her time as artist in residence at the V&A.
Do you think art and craft has any real importance?
Never more so. I think in these increasingly hi tech, hands off, virtual times, people need and want objects which have been conceived, developed and made by someone. Objects which have soul and bear witness to an individual's endeavour. The cup I drink coffee from each morning bears the finger prints of the maker where he held it to pour out slip. He's called Nigel - I know that and it enhances my enjoyment of the cup and the coffee!
Meabh is writing a blog