Julia comes from a long line of artists and has been creating her own original artwork since childhood. Her love of nature and the natural world informs everything she creates, including hand-dyed and felted textile hangings, sensory wheels, unique wool fibre garments, poetry and watercolour paintings. Julia grows and hand-dyes her own Wensleydale wool fibre, is a British Wool Artisan Licensee and is passionate about inspiring others through heritage skills. Her studio is open to visitors and study groups.
Julia grew up on Dartmoor and this experience gifted her the skills to explore making and creating handmade items out of her own imagination. Life led her along many different pathways, including marriage and family, ultimately leading to the running of a small Sussex estate between 1996 – 2010, where the different threads of her life integrated and she directed an Awards for All Lottery funded Project in 2009 called “Sheep to Shawl”. This project included farmers, shearers, spinners, dyers and volunteers all committed to making the best out of Rare Breed Sheep fibre. Together they shared skills, collaborated and encouraged one another to discover new ways of adding value to their animals or interests., British Wool verified the quality of Julia’s fibre and she became a Small Licensee in 2006. From here Julia progressed to working exclusively with her own Wensleydale Fibre, which gave her a deep satisfaction, as it brings together her love of animals, nature, colour and texture in design, pattern making and creating artwork in semi-abstract forms.
Julia creates colour palettes of plant-dyed locks and wool, similar to watercolours. Her large textile hangings are constructed using dry, wet and hand-sewn techniques to allow the lustre and the depth of material to blossom in low relief. These pieces are slow to create and meditative in approach. They are not laid-out designs, but rather concepts that grow organically under her fingers, often inspired by myth or legend or elemental nature. Similarly, the garments she creates are based on simple patterns which evolve over time using both her natural and plant-dyed yarns. The bringing together of poetry and watercolour painting again allows different languages to evolve and collaborate together. Like the dyeing of indigo, it is an alchemical process with each stage and element as important, integral and absorbing as the next, contributing to the whole.
All Julia’s artwork is a labour of love from clipping the fleece, sorting for quality and tone in order to produce worsted spun yarn in shades that are unique. The Silver Grey Wensleydale is a genetic gift, cannot be bred directly and takes several years to collect enough for a small run of a few kgs of unrepeatable yarn. For years she has worked with Roger Mosby, Master Spinner owning Diamond Fibre Worsted Spinning Mill learning all she can in order to help produce her own unique yarns. The rewards are seeing the effect these tactile, handcrafted items have on both children and adults: the soft texture, the lustre, the natural rhythms of form and colour are all therapeutic and frequently provoke spontaneous responses.
These responses have motivated her desire to create art specifically for well-being and self-expression, and she is now actively seeking opportunities to place her work in public spaces where health and healing are uppermost in purpose and working in collaboration with others who are like-minded. Julia is also committed to helping people learn new skills which enable them to design and make their own artwork and prosper at a micro-level.
Every stage of every artwork Julia creates is slow, organic and “hands-on”. As a consequence, she only produces a few items each year, several of which are held in private collections in both the UK and US. A great influence for Julia is St Francis of Assisi who aptly says: “He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist”. That is her motivation and enduring aim.