Articles & News
I am delighted three of my moss and lichen studies have been included in an exciting herbaria exhibition at the St Barbe Museum Art Gallery in Lymington, Hampshire.
The exhibition 'leads the visitor through the process of collecting, preserving and cataloguing plants and the history of herbaria, introducing relevant contemporary art practice inspired by science and botany'.
Curated by Sherry Doyal, a maker, artist and teacher who has worked as a conservator with natural science and history collections.
The exhibition runs from 18th January to 16th March 2024.
Mon - Sat 10am - 4pm
Felt Magazine (Australia)
I am delighted to have a 5 page feature in FELT Magazine. You will be able to find my Moss and Lichen inspired feature starting on page 8. Can you spot one of my lichen studies on the front cover? It was nice to be invited to contribute to this lovely magazine.
Felt Magazine - is now available for Pre-Order from the Australian publisher. ArtWear Publications.
Or you may like to take out a subscription via https://www.artwearpublications.com.au/.../subs.../magazine/
Digital copies will be available in December via Artwear Publication. Order a copy
Ilkley Creative Quarter Open Spaces
Sat & Sun 14-15th October 2023 10am-4pm
3 Church Street, Ilkley LS29 9DR
Duttons for Buttons are celebrating the talents of some of Yorkshire’s finest textile artists. This free pop-up exhibition is part of the Ilkley Creative Quarter Open Space Weekend.
Inspired by the work of mixed media artists, fabric printers and sculptors, embroiderers, felters and more.
A selection of my framed Moss and Lichen Studies will be available to view at the Duttons for Buttons venue 10 on Church Street. Please note I will not be in attendance this weekend due to a family wedding.
Embracing Wool Exhibition
Review in Felt Matters Magazine
Our June 2023 exhibition 'Walk Into Nature' has been reviewed in Felt Matters Magazine. Jenny Pepper was asked by the International Feltmakers Association to submit an article on behalf of the group (issue 152, September 2023). The article gives a flavour of the exhibition week at Scampston Hall Walled Garden. Myself and Liz Riley formed Embracing Wool in 2022. More info on the group and current members can be found at www.embracingwool.co.uk
I was invited by the International Feltmakers Association to write an article about my textural limpet studies recently for the June 2023 edition (issue 151) of 'Felt Matters'.
The article can be read below. More information about the IFA can be found here.
It was lovely to be asked recently for an in-depth interview with Lynn Woll from Create Whimsy. They are a North American online platform sharing stories and creative journeys of textile artists and makers. There are lots of interesting artists that have been interviewed, some you may know and new ones for you to discover.
Thank you Lynn it was lovely talking with you.
You can read my interview by clicking HERE
Discover: Floral textile artists
I was delighted to be interviewed recently by TextileArtist.org for their series of discover articles. It was lovely to be featured alongside 4 other talented textile artists who all incorporate flowers within their work. TextileArtist.org has an excellent database of interesting and informative articles, a go to website for both professional artists and those just beginning their textile journey.
Pop over and give them a follow!
The article can be read in full by clicking here. Discover: Floral textile artists
It has been three years since I have held an Open Studio event. A house move, relocation and ‘the covid years’ makes it feel like such a long time! Some of you may have visited me during Derbyshire Open Arts when I lived in a rural part of the Peak District National Park. It was always a frantically busy well attended event with a wonderful network of supportive artists. I knew I would miss it when I moved!
Things work a little differently here in North Yorkshire, the selection process is notoriously difficult to get into, coupled with the vast size of North Yorkshire and a cap on artist numbers, logistically artists are spread far and wide!
This year the selection panel included the Duchess of Devonshire, patron of NYOS, who resides at the magnificent Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, ironically just a few miles from where I used to live!
I am delighted that I have been selected. Selection this year entitles automatic entry for subsequent years if desired. So I will be opening my home to visitors for two weekends in June 3rd & 4th and 10th & 11th 2023, so make a note in your diary and if you are in the area, pop in for a cup of tea and a chat. There are several other artists in the Scarborough vicinity, route maps, brochures and more information can be downloaded from the NYOS website.
The Digital Cloth eMagazine - February 2022
I was delighted that a photo of my handcrafted felt limpets were chosen to be on the front cover of the February edition of the Digital Cloth eMagazine Issue 11.
I have a lovely 8 page article in this Australian magazine which is available to purchase
from Caroline at The Digital Cloth.
'Limpets and Barnacles' was created entirely from wool using the wet felting technique with wool yarn hand embroidery.
This was the first of my limpet studies, the work has sold and resides in Luxembourg.
Surf n’ Turf by Lynn Comley
I am perhaps best known as UpandDownDale in the felt making world, a textile artist living in the UK, surrounded by the rolling North York Moors National Park and the beautiful North Yorkshire coast.
I take most of my inspiration for my felt pieces from my natural surroundings, especially the infinitesimal details found in the beach environment and along the hedgerows near my home. Moss, lichen or limpets and barnacles in a rock pool have influenced my work more recently. I always say that I get as much pleasure out of seeing an exquisite piece of moss on a dry-stone wall or studying the rock pools on my local beach at low tide as I do seeing a beautiful landscape. Nature has the ability to create the most delicate patterns, if we just take the time to look at these details we are often rewarded, nature surrounds us everywhere it can be so uplifting, sometimes we just need to slow down and observe, and let the environment absorb us.
Upon closer inspection lichens are incredibly subtle and intricate. We have over 1,800 different types of lichen in the UK alone and each one has adapted to its unique environment. I find the sophisticated details, colours and patterns of lichen are like pieces of art in themselves, so I find it interesting to be able to recreate these details in felt form. Did you know that a fresh flourishing of lichen signifies good surrounding air quality? I like focusing on these lichen studies, I feel it allows me to connect and reflect on the vulnerable state of the microenvironment. I also find Eurasian limpets (patella vulgata) particularly fascinating. Their colours range from black all the way to the palest white, each with its own distinctive markings, just like fingerprints or DNA. I fondly like to call these contrasting studies my Surf n’ Turf!
These elements, whether they be limpets, lichens or the more obvious landscape greatly influence my work, as I like to study the patterns then photograph the details, and use these pictures for reference in my work. I take thousands of photographs, this enables me to remember and reflect on what I have seen. Though intentionally not wanting to replicate an exact facsimile, I prefer to work with the natural flow and movement of the fibres during the felting process and adapt the design accordingly, I hope this makes for a more natural movement with each piece.
I often prefer to use a limited number of stitches in my pieces, allowing the stitching to enhance the felt rather than overwhelm. I frequently use just 2 or 3 different stitches but vary the thickness or texture of the threads, creating more visual interest. I never mark make with a pen, I like the freedom to stitch where I see fit at that moment in time, and this I feel enables me to connect more with the subject matter. Most of the threads I use are hand dyed, natural silks, wool, or linen. I think these types of thread complement the natural fibres I use in my felt work.
The process of felt making is really enjoyable and includes three distinct steps. The first stage involves creatively laying out and composing the selected fibres, choosing the colours, and adding accent fibres for texture. Then the process of wet felting can begin. Using water, soap, and a lot of elbow grease, slowly the fibres entangle to form a cloth. After the piece has dried, then the stitching and thread work can begin. The act of stitching always feels like my reward for the physical work that goes into the felt making. The newly created felt is a lovely and unique handmade fabric to stitch into.
I feel privileged to live where I do, by the sea and surrounded by the North Yorkshire Moors. So much of life in the UK and beyond is full of hustle and bustle that it is nice to be able to call such a coastal haven my home. Enjoying walks on the beach and in the surrounding countryside, allows me to search, reflect and discover something new every day, and most of the time this results in the inspiration for another stitched felt piece.
Lynn is a member of the International Feltmakers Association and the Society for Embroidered Work; promoting and supporting the best in stitched art worldwide.
Lynn’s work is sold internationally through her website.
Be Creative Magazine January 2021
Read my article, how I got started in Be Creative with Workbox magazine,
Issue 195, p50-57.
words | LYNN COMLEY
The beginnings...how I got started.
It was purely by chance that a felt making course was advertised during a visit to an Art and Architecture trail in the Peak District where I used to live. I was looking to learn a new skill one that I could possibly combine along with my love of walking and landscape photography. I was instantly intrigued and curious about the whole process so I enrolled and after learning the various basic techniques I soon became addicted. Felt making is such a lovely process, the ability to produce a piece of fabric that is totally unique and of your own construction is very satisfying. Felt has lovely properties, it can be made thick or very thin, other fabrics such as silk or scrim or thread can be incorporated into it, meaning you are able to produce a myriad of texture and in turn interest. It is soft and a joy to stitch into. The nature of the interlocking wool fibres means it is forgiving with heavy machine embroidery and equally hand stitches can be skimmed just under the surface which adds interest and a different depth or perspective to foliage for example. Felt making is an ancient craft and more recently one which is gaining in popularity as a creative medium. I hope my approach helps to bring a greater acceptance as an artform.
A few months after starting the felt course, my village art group asked if I would like to exhibit with them at the Derbyshire Open Arts event. So it was a frenzy working to a tight schedule creating sufficient work for the exhibition, then came a new challenge…framing! Using shop bought ‘ready made frames’ was extremely difficult given the unpredictable shrinkage during the felting process. I then realised the frames had to be bespoke, as trying to get my felt to shrink to a specific size was impossible. I now have a lovely framer that takes care of that for me!
Initially I was terrified of what people might think of my work; the fear of putting yourself out there for all to critique. However I was completely overwhelmed that virtually every picture I made ended up selling! It all seemed to grow from there and my UpandDownDale venture was born. I registered as a business, made my website, joined the lovely creative community on Instagram, then later I added my online shop.
The following year I applied for Derbyshire Open Arts as an individual artist and exhibited from my home. Having almost 200 visitors over the weekend, it was exhausting but a wonderful experience chatting and explaining the processes to people. Many visitors had not seen felt pictures before, thinking at first they were looking at acrylic or pastel pictures. I sold over thirty pictures which was a massive confidence boost.
My inspiration comes from my surroundings, I love being out in the countryside with my camera, every day is different, there is always something new or interesting to see as the seasons change. I have been fortunate to live in beautiful areas in the country, the Peak District and now the North Yorkshire Coast, so I take my ideas from my walks and things that interest me along the way. I especially relish a stormy day, the light is often fleeting but at its most dramatic on days like these. I like to try and capture this atmosphere in my work, I rarely produce blue sky day pieces but instead like to encapsulate the mood by accentuating cloud forms with texture and placing strands of silk to replicate light falling on a valley. For my foregrounds I like to stitch wildflowers found in the hedgerow, cow parsley being a favourite, the stitch adds another dimension and gives additional colour to the work.
I use my photographs rather than sketches as a starting point for my work and try to imagine being there again in person when deciding on composition, where I want to have the foreground, the mid distance and the horizon (vanishing point). It is surprising how ‘painterly’ laying out a piece of felt can seem. I build up layers of dyed wool considering form, line, colour, space and texture. Using similar principles a watercolour artist would with their paints. Layers of coloured fibres laid more densely create a deeper shade and laying one colour on top of another, as a painter would blend paint. Sometimes I lay just a few tiny strands of contrasting silk over a particular area emphasising the light, less is often more. Felt making is an unpredictable process! The carefully laid fibres move and react differently during the wet felting process, the whole piece may shrink by up to 30% or even more, but often reveals unexpectedly pleasing details, therefore I adapt my design ideas to each individual piece of felt, each piece I make is unique and virtually impossible to replicate.
Using free motion machine embroidery, hand stitching or both in my work and by adopting a freestyle approach I consider my sewing is more mark making rather than precise embroidery. Rarely ever drawing guide lines with a pen, instead I prefer to stitch freely, both with the machine and hand stitching but sometimes going completely off piste and letting the way the fibres lay determine where the next stitch will be rather than using my photographs as a reference. Thread selection is important too, I love to use natural hand dyed threads for hand stitching such as cotton, wool, linen and silk, especially the thick and thin of unevenly hand-spun threads. It all adds to the texture and creates little areas of interest within a picture.
2019 was a big upheaval relocating to Scarborough on the North Yorkshire Coast, back to my roots! I will always have a love for landscape and had expected the transition to include more seascapes, however I have found much of my focus has been on the minutiae of the landscape producing detailed studies of moss and lichens or limpets gathered from my beach walks. I like the time taken while working on one of these hand stitched studies limiting the variety of stitches I use in each piece of work, often using just two or three stitches (bullion knots and fly stitch are favourites). Using different threads, textures and size of stitch, it makes a nicer balance to the overall piece. The slower pace of hand stitching enables me to connect more with the subject matter. That connection means a lot to me. Nature is a wonderful engineer, the construction, form and mark making can be exquisite; it is worth getting your knees muddy for a closer look!
Most of all I still love experimenting, not everything is successful but I don't mind that and like to take something positive from how it turns out. I often think we learn more by mistakes or happy accidents as I prefer to call them. Stitch has “got me” though, as with photography it makes you tune in to the tiny magical details that nature presents to you. Instead of the 100th of a second it takes to create a photograph the connection you have with interpreting the subject with stitch is a more long lasting one, creating a connection and compassion with the subject. I am convinced this must release endorphins as does a walk in a beautiful uplifting landscape. Therefore my message to anyone would be to have a go, try a new skill, experiment, if it makes you happy and you can connect with nature during the process then it will be one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Lynn Comley is the guest today on the Stitchery Stories textile art podcast. Lynn works under the brand name of Up And Down Dale and the name gives us a clue as to the source of her artistic inspiration… the landscape around her!
Lynn has recently relocated from the Derbyshire Peak District to the North Yorkshire coast and has been enjoying several changes not just in her surroundings but in her artistic creations too. Lynn loves working with her handmade felt, with machine embroidery and increasingly, hand embroidery, to make the marks and highlights to her landscapes.
Susan Weeks chats with Lynn about:
- An endless fascination with landscape and the sea
- Inspiring vistas and miniscule worlds
- A newcomer to textile art
- Getting hooked into feltmaking
- Leaping into exhibiting with Derbyshire Open Arts trail
- Moving from hobby to business to meet demand for her work
- From novice stitcher to addicted stitcher
- It’s not embroidery, it’s mark making with thread
- The delights of thread
- How to recreate inspiring scenes in stitch
- The patterns of the sea on the beach
- Experimenting with collagraph printing and felt
- Choosing Stitchery Stories over the BBC and Nick Knowles
- The Society For Embroidered Work
- Learning from failures and revisiting them
- The pro’s and con’s of doing commissions
- Go with the flow
- Getting over creative block
- And so much more!
In July 2019 I relocated from Parwich in the Peak District National Park back to my hometown of Scarborough on the beautiful North Yorkshire Coast. As the Peak District landscape inspired much of my previous work l am sure the beautiful North York Moors landscape and hedgerow will form the basis for much of my work, along with the occasional coastal scenes!
Please follow me on Instagram to see what I am currently working on!
23.10.2018 - I am delighted to announce that I have been accepted into The Society For Embroidered Work. I am honoured to be part of this esteemed group of artists. The aim of S.E.W is to 'Promote and support the best in stitched art worldwide'