Wild Flower Workshop

I will be leading a workshop that has evolved from my work on wild flowers at the wonderful Land of Oak and Iron in May – it would be lovely to see you there!



Saturday 2 May 2020, 10am – 4pm

Wildflowers are a beautiful feature in the Land of Oak & Iron, they signify the changing seasons as they bloom and seed.

In this workshop you will create a piece of textile art inspired by native wildflowers, using materials such as hand dyed fabrics and lace, along with embroidery.

The workshop is led by award winning textile artist Donna Cheshire. Cost £45 including tea/coffee, booking essential.
To find out more: http://www.landofoakandiron.org.uk/whats-on

Hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria

Do Your Own Thing..

Tuesday was such a lovely day! My first public workshop of 2020 – held at the lovely Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

I started out early so I could squeeze in my regular Tuesday swim before the workshop and managed a kilometre even though I forgot my goggles 🥽- tried swimming with my eyes shut NOT a good idea when you’re swimming in lanes !

The workshop was designed to share methods to help develop unique and personal approaches to creating art – in textiles or other media. First, a talk about how looking at other artists work can help us to make progress with our own work. Then some practical drawing exercises.

Working with a lovely group,I talked about what is ‘Critical for Creativity’ using a methodology I learnt in my first teaching post  – last century!!  We explored how to follow up when a piece of art catches our attention, using a bit of detective work to find out more about artwork and artist – no stalking! I used an example from my own experience – talking about how my love of Vincent van Gogh’s work influenced the creation of  my piece ‘Shingle and Stars’

Shingle and Stars

Shingle and Stars, the influence of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Having talked through how to analyse an artwork – and spend longer than 15 seconds looking  at it! We went through to the gallery and everyone chose a piece of work that appealed to then to try the methodology themselves. I then talked a little more about how I continue to use this methodology and how it helps me to develop as an artist – stressing the importance of continuing to ‘feed’ ones creativity and imagination by learning from other artists. I shared the impact that more recent art ‘crushes’ have had on my own work such as Joan Eardley . The power and scale of her work has encouraged me to work bigger, and her use of collage encourages me in my choice of processes.

Then it was time to tackle drawing – now I know from my experience with students and workshop participants that those who stitch often say they can not draw! But I want to encourage drawing as a way of developing ideas, experimenting and… enjoying the process! So, I put together a series of tasks that would encourage the group to engage with their chosen subject matter and think about what exactly they needed to get from a drawing.

We started by working very quickly, with a range of media and NO Rubbers! When there is only a minute to draw, what do you focus on? The form, the texture? Mark making? Working on sketches for a minute or two can be surprising – it’s amazing how much information you can capture and, as you’ve only spent 60 seconds you don’t feel that pressure for it to be ‘good’ or look ‘right’. I encourage participants to make notes about the drawing experience as we go on …. what works, how it feels, what ideas pop into their heads whilst doing the drawing, the process of drawing can help to clarify the ideas of the artwork to come.

We finished the afternoon with a more extended piece – but drawing using collage – a process that really helps me in my applique and free motion embroidery work.

As with any workshop – I wouldn’t ask participants to do anything I haven’t done myself! So here is one of my 5 minute sketches – and the developing textile work. Once again, the magic of drawing has helped me extend the ideas I have for a piece of work and set me off down another creative pathway…lets see where this one leads to!


A continuous line drawing – 5 minutes



Weeds transferred to soluble film and ready to stitch

Weeds - stitched

Free motion embroidery and applique ready to wash off

I think that I will do several fragments in this way to add further layers to my Urban Efflorescence pieces. I only hope the participants got as much out of the workshop as I did!

I will be running more workshops this year, at the Shipley and independantly, please get in touch if you’d be interested in booking a workshop for your group – and head over to my workshop page for upcoming events!



Upcoming Events

This Saturday sees my final selling event of 2019 – catch me and about a dozen other lovely artists at the Queens Hall in Hexham from 10 am – 4pm


I’ll be doing more workshops for the public in 2020 check out the events list for The Shipley Art Gallery and also look out for me at the lovely Land of Oak and Iron

I’ll also be popping up at the Late Shows 2020 at Gateshead Library and exhibiting in the gallery there with my friends from Fusion Textiles

For now, I’m joining in with the fabulous Just A Card campaign and then I’ll be spending December making some new work – and maybe getting a little bit festive!


A wild month of workshops

Work has been a whirlwind of workshops lately- added to my usual Wednesdays of hospital art I’ve worked in three different primary schools, had a return visit to a textile group and held my first workshop in the wonderful Shipley Art Gallery

Participants have transformed tin cans, stitched scenes of The Great War, used silk paints, made African inspired textiles, crocheted flowers hooked rugs and hand stitched beach hut scenes.

(Quite a lot of prep work has been involved 😅)

The workshop at the Shipley was a first experience for several reasons- working in the venue, adapting one of my workshops to be sewing machine free, and working with two different groups of 20 participants in the course of the day !

The Shipley staff planned a day where participants could work with two different artists in one day ( Hello, Marian Hernandez Villada a colourful painter and lovely human 😄). One group would do a watercolour painting whilst another would stitch, after a short lunch break they swapped over. So workshop projects had to be achievable in just a couple of hours!

I began making these little beach hut scenes right at the start of my career as a full time artist. I must have made dozens by now- but always using at least 2 sewing machines with a little bit of hand sewing! Adapting them for hand stitch took a little bit of experimentation. I decided that the CAD stitched huts were key, so I made several batches of these- I’ve got the stitch design worked out so that I can stitch six at a time – changing the colours as I go. So I prepared about 60 little huts in different colour ways for participants to choose from.

Each little hut sits in its own mini landscape, so I needed to work out how to convert this from my machine stitched appliqué to hand stitch – and to make sure I had enough of the recycled ‘matching game’ cards that each little scene is framed on.

Luckily, now that I run workshops regularly I have a ridiculous amount of embroidery hoops to access ( thank you Barnyarns for getting 40 hoops to me very quickly- and then another 20 🤣 I’m sure I could do a very ‘Anthropologie‘ style display with them all at some point!)

40 hoops were fitted with squares of my hand dyed fabric in shades of blue. A quick count up showed there were just enough card pieces in my ‘random stuff that will be useful one day store’ ! There were definitely enough fabric scraps, buttons, beads and trims available (have you SEEN my workroom 🤣)

I felt it was important, also, to have a worksheet for guidance – 20 participants for just over 2 hours equals not a lot of individual tutoring! Having a worksheet listing stages in development, plus a template helps keep people going with the task.

I definitely thought I’d done the ‘Belt and Braces’ approach to workshop planning- and I think the day did go well although next time I’ll make sure my other half leaves me a car KEY 🔑 as well as the car so I don’t have to book a last minute taxi with a big boot!

The day was great fun, participants jumped into the task. A lovely crowd of women of all ages, with a couple of familiar faces 😊. I hope I was doing my ‘swan’ impression – you know; looking serene on the surface whilst frantically ‘paddling’ to keep things on track. (Thank you Kerry for insisting I had 10 minutes off site to eat lunch 😊).

It was interesting to see that there was a difference in the way the morning and afternoon groups worked – the morning group took a little longer planning out their beach hut scenes, the afternoon group dived straight in – creative muscles warmed up by their morning of painting? Just about everyone completed their pieces- a few took away the driftwood and wires to make hangers but the scenes were stitched in the session 🧵😄

By 4.30 pm I was all packed up and ready for home – just a short wait for my very apologetic OH to show up – he made the supper that night 🤣

Thank you to everyone who came to the workshop, to the Shipley for providing such a lovely venue and to Kerry Cook of Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives for letting me loose in there ! (Hope we didn’t leave any pins behind!)

And… they’re letting me back in! So do check the Shipley Art Gallery website for their next series of workshops in the Spring!

Oh and in the meantime- come and see me here on November 30th!

Tin Can Metamorphosis in Snape

Saturday was workshop day. This time I headed down the A1 to meet with Snape Textiles Group – a great bunch of women who meet regularly in their gorgeous village hall to share and extend the knowledge of textiles.

I first met the group a couple of years ago when they tackled my ‘Grand Designs’ workshop with enthusiasm- they must have enjoyed it because here I am again!

Grand Designs Beach Hut

The Grand Designs project uses a tuna or sweetie tin as the base for a 3D scene – for Tin Can Metamorphosis we were starting with mackerel tins of varying sizes, plus a few sturdy cardboard boxes.

The first task is to have an idea of the scene you want to capture and ‘treasure’ in this way – my piece shows a little bit of the North Yorkshire coast. It’s best to have an image to work from, drawing or photos. Then choose what details will make the composition- a little planning and a rough template makes it easier to complete the project!

Once the design work is sorted its time to collage the tin – I like to use old maps or reference books – cookery and gardening themes work well!

The collage can dry off whilst textile work commenced. Here’s one balanced precariously on a glue stick – well away from the fabric and delicious homemade tea loaf !

Because the pieces are small, scraps of fabric are all that’s needed to build up the image- so they are great for a bit of stash busting 😊

I bring materials and equipment to share but this group have lots of lovely fabric and samples from previous sessions to use

We have a break at lunchtime- special thanks to Mary for an excellent feast – Bread And Butter pudding!! (That’s her landscape above!)

It’s a nice opportunity to find out more about each other – the group are having an exhibition later in the year and I hope some of these pieces will feature in it.

June’s scene was inspired by a visit to ‘Leafy Buckinghamshire’. She’s used letter stamps and needle felting to create details in her scene.

Some participants like to use machine stitching and others prefer hand embroidery- either will work – just be aware that lots of hand stitching may mean it takes longer to finish the piece!

Barbara preferred not to stitch at all!

Karen was excited to find a way to repurpose a strong cardboard box with a hinged lid- it’s going to be a travel memories box – and has inspired ideas for a workshop with children at a school in India!

This one was inspired by a beautiful French stamp. There might be tiny letters flying over the top of the tin when it’s finished.

Kathryn’s will have laundry blowing over a windy North Berwick scene…when it’s finished!

img_5414Philippa is planning to add some poppies on the outside of her tin.


Allison covered her box with an image of the exterior of a cottage so she made the interior image in applique, Sarah appliqued a beautiful cottage with a garden full of Hollyhocks – she’ll be hand stitching those later…


We tried different methods of supporting the embroideries in the tins – using old felting blocks and actually needle felting recycled fibre fill to make more solid forms.

I hope that some participants will inspired to carry on and transform more tin cans into lovely stitched mementos.695952F6-2621-4327-BFEC-38898C0AE1C7.jpg

Thanks Snape Textile Group for being such lovely students- hope I’ll get to work with you again before too long!

Mondays are for Walking

Autumn is creeping in, with September gone after soaring temperatures followed by torrential rainfalls. The season change has caused us to pause and reflect on  changes in our lives here in Newcastle. Dealing with loss of loved ones leads to recallibration of priorities and needs, and so my partner has cut down his hours and I have altered mine leaving us both free to spend Mondays walking in the beautiful North East landscape. If you get the opportunity, I can recommend walking for wellbeing.

Each week we have picked a route of around 10km, in different locations; coastal, moorland, riversides and woodland. Incredibly, all the routes so far have also included remarkably good cafes! (More on that later!) I haven’t stopped to get out my sketchbook yet but have been busy with my camera and collecting bag.

The walks have provided thinking time to mull over project ideas and the landscape is certainly proving inspirational.

Week 1: From Craster to Low Newton and back, via Dunstanburgh Castle

We started this walk with tea and toast at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, truly excellent toast!

We found this spider hanging outside one of the little cottages on the dunes near Low Newton- beautiful markings

On our return the temperature seemed to have warmed up enough to get these little frogs hopping- we had to be very careful where we put our feet!

Dunstanburgh Castle looking dramatic against the sky line,

Lunch at the Ship Inn, Low Newton. It had to be crab sandwiches and kipper fish cakes!

A mad dash back to Newcastle saw us reach Grey Street in time to catch the end of stage 3 of the Gour of Britain bike race – think we overtook them when the riders got stuck at the level crossing in Widdrington!

Week 2: Allendale  around Stobbs Cross

This walk started with a visit to an art gallery…and cafe- can you see a routine forming 🤣

We went to The Allendale Forge to see a beautiful textile art exhibition by the very talented Kate Slaughter and then got our energy levels up with a tasty vegetarian breakfast.

I found this walk quite hard, the landscape seemed bleak to me and the wind was fierce

Lower down the route, hedgerows were covered with rose hips, hawthorn berries and the last few blackberries.

We saw several beautiful brown butterflies whilst we were on the moor – I need to check if this caterpillar was related to them!

Week 3: Derwent Valley from Swalwell to Thornley Woods

We couldn’t go too far from home today- kid taxi duty later – but this gorgeous walk is only 9 miles away- so lucky to live where we do.

We walked a whole mile from the car park before ‘accidentally’ finding Land of Oak and Iron a heritage centre that just happens to have a lovely cafe attached 🤣 more toast and tea tested- 👍👍👍

We walked across the viaduct and then went down to follow the river.

Wasn’t quite so impressed to find this-almost as big as my foot!

Thornley Woods has an accessible sculpture trail- and another cafe! These walks are all easy to reach by bus from Newcastle too!

Week 4 Alnmouth to Lesbury,Bilton and Hipsburn and back

Heading up the A1 this week, calling at Swarland for…yes, tea and toast – you really need to try Nelsons in the Park 4 slices!!

I love Alnmouth, a village full of art and cafes right on the coast- this time though it was all about the river. So after a short walk along the beach we turned inland to find the Aln.

This little hut features in one of my miniature scenes

We walked through the golf course and across a field warning of bulls – luckily they seemed to be elsewhere.

This little robin was quite fierce- he flew right up to my face twice as we tried to pass him- surely it’s the wrong time of year for nesting?

Another viaduct- this trainspotter just missed the 1 o’clock to Edinburgh going overhead!

And after all those steps? A vegan spicy cauliflower pie fromScott’s of Alnmouth

I hope we can continue these walks as the weather turns, we’ve been lucky so far but if it does get grim, we might switch to urban walks with (more) cafes and cinemas!

Art and Textiles in Yorkshire

Saturday was one of the wet days – in a ‘maybe we should build an ark?’ way – torrential rain, grey skies, strong winds – British Summer at its ‘finest’! So I took the opportunity to go and see an exhibition and to check out a possible future event to take part in   – both in Yorkshire !

Exhibition – The 62 Group


Always inspiring, an exhibition by the 62 Group never fails to get me thinking. The work of some of the group is on display at the wonderful Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Farsley, near Leeds. The Gallery itself was fabulous (there’s a little cafe and a shop selling gorgeous things too – hello Michele Daykin, Charlotte Whitmore     both fantastic jewellers! ) The Mill closed in 2008 but now the buildings are used by small and creative businesses – there’s a fantastic Scrap Store that’s open to the public – it has everything from shuttlecocks to fabric sample books, and there’s an eco store inside too!

Back to the textile art. Wonderful pieces by Dawn Dupree, Jeanette Appleton, Hannah Lamb, Caroline Bartlett and more. Showing textile print, stitch, assemblage, appliqué. The interpretations of the title were individual. So the work is brilliantly varied. Some artists were inspired by the mill itself – it used to make military fabrics I think, so Nigel Cheney‘s piece ‘Whortleberry Blue’ seem very apt. Debbie Lyddon‘s piece seemed very at home against the colour of the mill floor.

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After the exhibition, it was a very rainy drive over to Skipton, North Yorkshire for a look at Art in The Pen

An art fair take over of an animal auction mart – fantastic! Each artist/maker gets a pen which they then ‘dress’ to become their own unique gallery space for the 2 day event.

There were over 200 artists selling work from a few pounds to thousands. There were jewellers, (hello Magnolia Restrepo ! Stunning jewellry combining precious metals and gemstones – so delicate and detailed) ceramicists, painters, print makers, textile artists, metal workers, wood carvers and more. I saw some familiar faces (hello Ceri at Oakwood Soaperie ! gorgeous hand made soaps and wonderful new ecoprinted range of textiles) from the North East and found some new art to love (hello Liz Salter beautiful paintings and sketchbook work so evocative of the weather and landscapes of Northern hills).


I was supposed to be wandering around with my work head on but my art lover’s heart kept interupting. My dear pal KPH got some good practical suggestions in – looking at how participants had made their 3 x 2m stands into gorgeous temporary galleries – and she got some shopping done too 🙂 I had asked the family present to check things out but the junior artist got distracted by the Art Shop on site – think that one’s going to be a portrait artist!  Whilst the team driver was too overcome by the meat pie and mushy peas he got in the cafe!

It did look like a very well organised event, and I will definitely add it to my list of applications!



Work in progress


At the launch of our exhibition for Room for You I had my photo taken by Bill Peronneau

So here I am engrossed in teaching needlefelting. A workshop I often run for patients I work with in hospitals. We had the great news this week that funding will continue for another year. So I can continue to dream up crazy installation ideas like this recent one…


Patients wrote on the rainbow to share what or who helped them get through Radiotherapy, we needlefelted rainbow coloured raindrops to add to the pom pom clouds – patients always find needle felting therapeutic 😉