Bringing animals to life in the house

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Name:
Amanda Graham
Job:
Illustrator
Location:
Exmoor

Amanda Graham, who has been creating art for most of her life, currently has an exhibition at Arlington Court. Her background in costume and textiles has led to the recent completion of a children’s book illustration course, which she hopes to pursue in the future. Here, Amanda tells us a little more about her art.

How long have you been creating art?

Like most artists, my memories of creating artwork stretch back to my childhood, the time when our imagination has free rein. For me dressing up, making little characters and models, drawing and creative writing were the perfect ways to pass my time.

Did you meet any challenges when creating the felted pieces?

One of the greatest challenges when working these pieces was selecting from the wonderful array of subject matter available at Arlington. With a limited amount of time some ideas just had to be left for another time.

How long did it take to create one of the creatures?

It is quite challenging to estimate a working time for these pieces. The whole process is like being a scientist in a lab. I’m always experimenting and investigating. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. Dyeing is unpredictable to some extent and an original idea may have to be adapted to fit the colours that have presented themselves. The machine embroidery is much simpler by comparison. Once a design decision has been made, the right fabric and thread selected, it can be quickly executed.

Did you use any unusual techniques for this exhibition?

I used Nuno felting, where sheer fabrics are attached to wool fibres, locking together through the wet felting process to form a ‘new’ fabric. Shapes can then be cut out and applied to a felt background. This allowed me to incorporate interesting additions of pattern and contrasting textures.

What is your ambition for the work?

I hope that visitors to Arlington will enjoy seeing my illustrative textiles and may be prompted to have a go themselves. National Trust houses and their collections are a goldmine of inspiration and I hope that others will be encouraged to make discoveries.

The display of work, ‘Creatures of Arlington’ will be in the house from 15 March to 4 May. Amanda will be on site most Tuesdays during the exhibition to demonstrate techniques and talk about her work.