Textile Study Group

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Shelley Rhodes


Artist statement

I am interested in observing and recording detail: extracting small marks found in the environment and on natural or man-made objects. I am drawn to the effects of time, the transience of nature, the things that go un-noticed and the ever changing fragility of the things that I encounter. My work explores the impact of man on the environment including the bleaching and destruction of the world’s coral reefs and the impact of discarded plastic on our oceans and marine life.

Much of my work involves fragmentation followed by reconstruction and repair. I use techniques inspired by Kantha making and Japanese Boro, layering scraps of worn, pre-used fabrics and paper to create a new whole. Work usually begins by collecting and drawing. Fabric and paper are painted, stained and marked before being fragmented. Small pieces are layered, patched, bundled or stacked before being joined or ‘repaired’ using stitch, nails, pins, staples, fishing line or wire. Materials such as metal, plaster and wax also hold elements together. I am interesting presentation and my training as a graphic designer often emerges in the form of order, layout and grids.

Recording in sketchbooks is an important part of my practice. Sometimes this is preparatory work which helps me to investigate a subject, but other times it is purely for the pleasure of observing and drawing. I create small ‘visual diaries’ which help me to look closely and select what is important to me. Drawings, paintings, prints, collage, words, text, photographs and found objects become an integral part of my sketchbooks and daily art practice. I enjoy the freedom and spontaneity that working in sketchbooks brings.

I have written two books, ‘Sketchbook Explorations’ [2018] and ‘Fragmentation and Repair’ [2021] published by Batsford.

I teach workshops online, in my studio as well as visiting venues thoughout the UK and abroad.


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