Artist's Statement

I studied 3d design and metal work but am self-taught in the field of textiles, building on some basic sewing and hand-knitting skills learnt as a child. I started working in textiles as a matter of convenience because it is easy to work at home, without special equipment, but I also find the repetitive, nature of many textile techniques very relaxing and absorbing. The urge to improve my craft skills and teach myself how to make things is a major motivation behind my work, and the process of making the work myself, learning and improving as I go along, is essential, and I cannot imagine not wanting to physically make the work myself.

Over the last few years my work has moved on from the coral series which was largely decorative and led by an exploration of techniques, to being much more based on my personal experience, and a desire to depict, and comment on, the things I see around me. I am inspired by the urban landscape and my experience of it. This led to the knitted buildings series which are mostly very personal views of buildings I walk past regularly, that are portraits of the buildings themselves but also reflect how my personal routines and the physical structure of the city interact.

The other strand of my work currently is machine embroidered and collaged pieces that focus on how plants find their place within the city, and their relationship with the human-made elements in the environment, whether this be trees planted and tended to fit into the confines of an urban landscape, or communities of wild weeds that create accidental gardens.

An important feature of my practice is the use of recycled and reclaimed materials. I am interested in the idea of making things out of rubbish or oddments. I enjoy finding new uses for materials that perhaps wasn't originally their intended purpose, such as making yarn by cutting up old tights or carrier bags. I like the 'accidental' nature of using reclaimed and found materials; not being able to get exactly what I need, or not enough of it, will force me to be creative and lead to different results.

Ruth Chalk, August 2016