I am fascinated by the ways in which form and structure make textiles ‘speak’ or take on an animate or anthropomorphic form. The language of stitches, texture and print has always felt instinctive and communicative to me – if you learn how to sew, your clothes can speak for you. Now, I hope that language inhabits the artworks I make.
My multi-disciplinary studio – Roby Workshop – began in June 2021 and my first solo exhibition of over 20 works ran for 6 weeks at Arc, in Stockport Hat Museum, in early 2022. I split my time between making art and making practical products. This split allows me to create flow between techniques which work for art and those which elevate product design. Both inform the other and are constantly evolving. I use a great deal of waste and recycled materials and though this provides an environmental benefit, my main area of interest is in the transformation. I grew up in a Brutalist concrete new town and am well versed in the intersection between cheap materials, ordered beauty and cold horror. So the challenge of making something austere, calm and pleasing out of a scratchy peach 1980s wool makes perfect sense to me.
Most of my works to date have been print-and-stitch pieces made by screen printing onto wool before adding sewn elements, sharp slashes and cut-outs. I use fibrous, old blankets as they provide a wonderful contrast between the inked and un-inked areas, rather than traditional (and flatter) silks or cottons. Lately I have been developing new painted textiles which hold cut shapes and take on a more sculptural form; increasingly in brutal, monochromatic palettes.