Taking inspiration from textile traditions such as American quilting and patchwork, Kantha quilts, darning and Japanese Boro, Claire Wellesley-Smith repurposes old textiles, re-piecing fabrics and building texture through stitching. Dying both thread and fabric with local leaves and plants, color stories are harmonious, as well as reminiscent of the local environment. Repetitive stitches create a rhythm, and thoughtful approach to textile practice, accented by ethereal and poetic, and dark and moody tonal combinations.
Projects are often community based, exploring notions of place, heritage and memory as a means of connecting people to their surrounding environment. Running a series of workshops from her home studio, Claire provides an opportunity for small groups to stitch and talk. She also delivers workshops and talks to a range of educational institutes from schools to colleges and textile groups. Focusing on issues connected to sustainability and well-being, Claire’s natural color and stitching workshops explore the relationship between craft, social history and the natural environment. Offering one, two and five day workshops that cover mordant printing, slow stitch, and natural dying, Claire’s teaching practice has been rated as outstanding by OFSTED.
Participating in a number of exhibitions, art projects and gallery presentations, Claire has exhibited in group shows, as well as undertaken long-term projects. Her ‘seed to fabric’ project, takes participants from dye plant plots, through the ‘whole process’ method of working with natural materials. Her book Slow Stitch published by Batsford, is a sensitive overview of mindful and contemplative textile art.