Textile Study Group

artists and tutors sharing ideas imagination and skills

Mary Sleigh

Artist statement

Curiosity about people, their cultures, practical skills and the marks they leave in the environment are constant sources of inspiration. Every place retains something of human traces and activities and finding those connections with places and people are significant to my work.

I have been an avid collector since childhood, whether in well-known places or unfamiliar territory such as southern Africa and India. These tangible connections to a place or time, some of which have of no intrinsic value spark off ideas and may be included in finished work. My travels have resulted in a collection of traditional textiles and beadwork that continue to offer ideas and fresh ways of working. I feel passionately that our textile heritage as well as that of other cultures should be celebrated and passed on to future generations.

The activity of making by hand and my love of materials are central to my way of working. I enjoy using simple, often basic materials to transform the mundane into something special. The gradual shift over the years from fabric and stitch to mixed media gives me more opportunities to reveal unexpected connections and ways of expressing a sense of place and moments in time, overlaying and connecting significant ideas.

My recent work celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Textile Study Group. 'Reading the Rings' is a series of five assemblages for the exhibition Making:50, using fabric, stitch, text, ephemera and layers of colour to depict each decade.

I continue to support the Lincoln Diocese, Coventry Cathedral and York Minster as Textile Advisor in the care and conservation of their textiles as well as encourage new work to be commissioned.

Most of all I love the buzz of teaching, sharing and developing ideas with others who want to extend their practice so enjoy opportunities tutor groups.

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