My initial training was in science, working in a veterinary research laboratory for many years. I believe this started my fascination with the micro and the macro – I am initially drawn to the outward appearance of an object or image, then immediately want to investigate closer. The use of repetition in my work is inspired in part from observing nature, but also from my subsequent training as a textile designer working in multiple modular units. As a screen-printer I use mark-making – both deliberate and incidental, and micro/macro and interior/exterior views of an object to build up composition and surface design.
In 1994 I developed a hybrid practice between art and science by using fruit fermentation to colour and pattern my cloth. The bacteria and moulds produced by the rotting fruit ferment over several months, staining the cloth with natural dyes and leaving ghostly patterns of the fruit behind. I am fascinated by the chemistry that occurs between vegetable matter, natural fibres and the various minerals used for mordants. This type of alchemy also occurs when I use natural dyeing techniques together with locally sourced vegetation, such as native plants. The results can often be unpredictable, enabling a more innovative approach to my work. I then combine more traditional techniques such as monoprinting, screenprinting and stitch to build up the surface of the fabric.
For the last 12 years I have been experimenting with many different textile techniques and materials to express my concepts, from chemical resist, degumming and devore, to direct digital printing. Since 2002, I have worked with other scientists and used scientific technology to inform my work. In recent works, photomicrographs taken with the Scanning Electron Microscope are manipulated via the computer to produce new compositions that are digitally printed onto cloth.
The recurring theme in my work is to challenge perceptions of the dichotomies between chaos and control, perfection and imperfection – questioning concepts of beauty and veracity. I seek to encourage others to find an interest in science and its principles through my artwork. I search for the power of transformation inherent in all materials, and I work with textiles because they possess unlimited potential.