Susie Cottee – our contributing artist

We invited textile artist Susie Cottee to exhibit with us at our next group show in March 2025.  Susie is a very talented artist and we are delighted to be working with her.  Here Susie talks about her influences and intuitive textile practice.

I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. Thankfully my mother was (and still is!) a compulsive purchaser of fabric, so there was always something for me to play with; I’d make dolls clothes, and mostly unwearable clothes for myself. I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was young and moved to London from rural Derbyshire to do just that. I enjoyed it for several years but was happy for the opportunity for a change of direction. I have been lucky enough to be taught for several years by Louise Baldwin on the creative textiles course at City Lit, which has been a wonderful and transformative experience. I’m excited to have been invited to exhibit with these talented and brilliant women in textiles2020. I can’t wait for the next exhibition, and I continue to enjoy the inspiration and focus induced by their generous sharing of work, support and ideas.

Ghost Dress

Having moved away from, and to an extent, rejected fashion design, I feel conflicted about my persistent urge to make art garments or pieces which evoke garments.

For this ‘dress’, I printed, marked and stained muslin which I then stitched into tubes and hand stitched together to form a dress; not quite a dress, nearly a dress…

Daughter

Eco dyed and stained cotton, layered with wool and patched with significant and repurposed printed and plain, stained and damaged scraps. My middle daughter attended a democratic boarding school in Suffolk, which she left last year. She has been allowed to be free and grow true to herself. This piece started as a garment, but evolved into a shawl or wrap to strengthen and hold her in the more conventional world which she is entering now. I am drawn to the spaces between wildness and domesticity, the wild in this piece is born from the idea of my daughter being protected by various talismans drawn from natural life: acorns, dyes from natural plants, prayers and spells. My life as a mother to three children is inevitably heavily based in the domestic, and whilst I am settled and content, I crave some wildness. Maybe the Derbyshire countryside, or a storm.

Stitched Squares

My textiles work can be very intuitive; I often feel like I don’t know what the plan is until it happens; I don’t know when I’m going to stop until I stop. I would say this is especially true of the stitched squares I am currently working on; despite them being time consuming, it feels like they almost make themselves. I often become drawn to a particular shape; my current obsession is an almost-house shape, and I think that this shape lends a homely and somewhat comforting feeling to these pieces. I have used old used domestic cloths; tea towels, muslins, flannels and dressmaking scraps.

I’m currently working on something completely different and am learning quilting techniques. This work-in-progress is a quilt top; I’m not sure when it will be finished. This feels like it’s the polar opposite to the small, insular yet somewhat comforting stitched squares.

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