Textile Study Group

artists and tutors sharing ideas imagination and skills

Summer School 2020

Making Space

A residential summer school tutored by Textile Study Group members and open to everyone.

Bobby Britnell
Jan Miller
Mary Sleigh

Hillscourt Hotel and Venue, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8RS
Monday 20 – Thursday 23 July 2020

textile textile textile

Students on this year’s Summer School will be able to experience and experiment with a variety of creative developments on the theme of Making Space.

The use of space is a key element in art and design, but also space can be described, recorded, measured, enclosed, adapted and used as a means to open up, move through, see further and explore.

Each of our innovative tutors has planned an exciting course designed to encourage new ideas and investigate fresh approaches for future work.

Summer School brochure (PDF)

Summer School booking form (PDF)

Watch this Space with Bobby Britnell

Space is one of the key elements in art and design, whether you are creating a drawing, painting or involved with any visual art form. It provides the viewer with the tools needed for making sense of finished works.

Positive and negative space, perspective, the size and position of one thing in relation to another are all clues in creating space in work, yet can get forgotten in textiles. We will begin by investigating some of these ideas through a number of creative exercises onto paper. We will then be working with colour onto the cloth and exploring detail through the use of stitch.

Learning from master artists is paramount in understanding these concepts so as usual, artist research will be fundamental in cementing personal ideas. Be prepared for some dramatic effects and large scale works which explore space in challenging ways.


Bobby runs and teaches courses from her studio in South Shropshire and attracts students from all over the world. She also brings in the best UK tutors. She exhibits and teaches all over the country and abroad and was a tutor on the BA (Hons) programme for the Julia Caprara School of Stitched Textiles. She published her first book in 2013.

Space Travel with Jan Miller

A workshop that ‘maps’ your space – work, studio, home, walks, journeys, travels – building layers of information using a visual shorthand. Can you remember a school atlas with pencilled notes; Ordnance Survey maps with Biro Xs; spinning globes; charts of voyages of discovery; backs of envelopes? One thing leading to another, moving forward – maybe in a roundabout way – to develop new approaches to making.

Using lines, marks, handstitch, prints, watercolours, inks; inventing symbols; adding paper, fabric, found bits, leftovers, the discarded; joined together with thoughts, experiences, and what to include or avoid! 2D work may lead to 3D constructions – folding, joining, wrapping, bundling – to display as a series.

Chart how you observe and make, mixing traditional with innovative. An illustrated record, "taking a line(s) for a walk". A personal ‘atlas’ of your making space, with ideas for future directions.


Jan, trained as a science teacher, finds it hard not to follow that recipe of equipment, method, result, conclusion. She has yet to find the latter. Who knows where her textile journey will end. Her ‘making space’ is wherever she is at this moment. She has an MA Textile Culture and is a member of the 62 Group.

Mind the Gap with Mary Sleigh

Stories, glimpses of journeys, memories of events, all have a beginning and an end, with natural pauses and rhythms. We shall explore how to create personal narratives, linking ideas, combining individual thoughts, with the emphasis on spaces, connections, and thoughtful associations.

The workshop will start with experimental paper-based ideas which will lead onto stitched fabric samples in preparation for a finished piece. We shall use surface embroidery and hand stitching techniques for construction. An important ingredient of the workshop is to share and discuss ideas in a supportive atmosphere encouraging fresh ways of working that initiate surprising combinations of colour, fabrics and other materials such as paper, maps, leather, vintage fabrics or found objects.
There will be an opportunity to consider methods of presentation including simple bookbinding techniques, or to continue to resolve ideas in fabric and stitch.


Mary is a freelance artist and tutor having taught in further education for more than 20 years. Her work is influenced by lifelong travels and the cultures of Africa and India as well as a love of our own textile heritage.

More about Bobby Britnell, Jan Miller and Mary Sleigh on the members pages

The Venue

Hillscourt is a delightful venue set in 25 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens. The Victorian house dates back to 1897 and retains many of its original features. It is located in leafy South Birmingham, near to Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and close to the Lickey Hills.

The venue is easily accessible by road being a 5 minute drive from the M5 Junction 4 and 5 minutes from the M42 Junction 1. The nearest station is at Longbridge and the nearest airport is Birmingham International Airport.

There is ample free parking available.

More Details

The summer school begins at 2.00pm on Monday 20 July, and ends after afternoon tea on Thursday 23 July 2020.

All bedrooms are to be vacated by 9.30am on the Thursday morning.


Booking, payment and cancellation information is on the accompanying booking form.

The booking form is available in PDF format to download and print. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the PDF file – you probably have it already so try downloading first. If the PDF doesn’t download you may need to obtain the Reader free from Adobe’s website.


All bedrooms are ensuite.

Full board, course fee, accommodation £580

International students £600

Non resident day delegate and course fee £370
This includes lunch, dinner and workshops in the evenings.

The course fee does not include lunch on Monday 20 July.

If you are making a long journey, bed and breakfast for Sunday and/or Thursday night can be arranged by booking directly with the centre. This also applies to partners who wish to stay at the centre.

Those receiving in-service grants from colleges should send the Textile Study Group the course fee and claim back a refund from their college.

Terms and Conditions

The booking form includes important Terms and Conditions in line with our liabilities to the centre. Please ensure you read these carefully.


For any queries about the Summer School please contact email hidden; JavaScript is required