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Helen MacRitchie - Artist & Designer

My textile work focuses upon the detail found in nature and science. Recurrent themes tend to be personal interactions with nature, both present and ancestral links to the land and local culture, and nature’s links to drug therapy of medical conditions. I initially qualified as a pharmacist, and often draw upon my research in the pharmaceutical industry and academia for inspiration and metaphorical representation.

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My design work is abstract in nature, employing mark making and allowing motif creation to develop from drawing and printing research. I employ texture and colour to convey significant impressions and emotions in my work.

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I generally base my work on wet felted wool, adding other fibres with hand or free machine embroidery to create layered textural surfaces.

The organic transformation by hand of wool fibre to felt is an important aspect of my work process and the versatility of this medium allows me to create anything from a delicate translucent hanging to a dense sculptural object.

Since completing a City & Guilds Diploma in Design and Embroidery in 2016 I have been exhibiting my textile art with Untethered Fibre Artists in Australia, and both Prism Textiles and the Oxfordshire Craft Guild in UK. My work takes many forms; from contemporary art hangings and sculptures for exhibition, to functional handbags and accessories.

Returning to the UK after 15 years living in Australia, we settled in Waterstock for its location in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. My husband saw the potential of a garden with his mark on it and I fell in love with my studio room.

With nature playing such a part in my work, I am continually inspired by the sights and sounds of the landscape just outside our door.

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This summer, during lockdown at home, I concentrated on the natural dyeing of wool fabric and yarn using the vegetation from 35 different trees and plants in Waterstock, creating a series of works entitled “On my doorstep”. I am continuing to develop this theme, and employing hawthorn dyed wool in textile work at present which examines the medicinal uses of the tree. The work will hopefully be exhibited in 2021.

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