British born and now living in Melbourne, I am an artist, designer, teacher, collector, fabricaholic and a bit of a crafty fibre day dreamer. If I’m not sewing then I can usually be found somewhere taking photographs of inspiring aspects of every day life. My interest in contemporary collage comes from lots of experimentation and owning a collection of unearthed treasures, which have a story to be stitched. I enjoy crossing over between disciplines, playing with different manipulation techniques and trying to combine diverse materials together. The pleasure for both my work and that of others’ comes from the element of the unknown. The delight of my work is seeing it evolve over time, from an initial blank canvas, with the help of my sewing machine, to a final outcome. It is incredibly fulfilling.
Conversation with the Maker(CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?
Lucy Worsley(LW) Believe it or not as a little girl I wanted to work in a Bank! Not very creative I know, but I loved to count coins. This then progressed into a love for counting and sorting my grandmother’s buttons, which has now led to me owning over 5000 buttons, all colour coordinated and happily sit in my store cupboard.
CWTM What was your first experience with making art?
LW Being at school and never feeling sure about any other subject but Art. I always felt happiest when I was creating with my hands, visiting an art gallery or even drawing in the sand on family holidays.
CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
LW Yes…my kitchen table. I over look my herb garden and small vegetable plot for inspiration. My table is an old door and my materials seem to naturally find a way of spreading themselves all over it and slowly into the rest of the house. Luckily my partner is a very patient man who likes fabric!
CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
LW I always start my day with a cup of Yorkshire tea, followed by a look online to check emails, orders and what’s going on in the world. I usually play some music, maybe a little Paolo Nutini or even a bit of Bob Dylan, depending on how I’m feeling. I sit, design, create, experiment, occasionally take a bike ride to the local beach cafe for a coffee and a slice of their delicious flourless orange cake, if I’m feeling uninspired. I plan targets for the day and outcomes I want to complete. I enjoying working into the night and sometimes find that it is at this time when I’m most creative.
CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?
LW It is a combination of both. The process can be lengthy, yet progressive. I often set unfinished pieces to one side, until I am ready to complete them with a fresh set of eyes and a clearer mind.
CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?
LW Absolutely, 100%. It is this that keeps me enjoying what I do and motivated to try new things and excited about the creative process.
CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?
LW My trusty sewing machine and darning foot. An array of vintage tins for storing all of my goodies in and a simple perfect button to add the finishing touch to a piece of work.
CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
LW My starting point begins by selecting specific materials, textures and images based on a chosen colour palette or theme. I then combine these through what I call ‘playing’, moving objects around and experimenting with placement techniques. It is a very organic process, and can come from an initial design, but is usually free flowing.
CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
LW This is a difficult one…I guess when feel I can’t do anything further to it. When it’s framed and I am happy with the overall look and feel of it. Sometimes once its stories been told.
CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….
LW There isn’t just one…Photographs, magazines, Instagram, fibre/art forums and talking with other inspiring artists and designers.
CWTM Favourite quote?
LW “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”
CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
LW By the sea, having a coffee, travelling in different countries and strangely enough just before I want to go to sleep!
CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
LW There is so much, but mostly the joy of simply being creative and using my hands. Unearthing something that has been forgotten, like finding some postcards from the 1920s in a skip and bringing them back to life in another dimension.
CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?
LW You can create a creative life, but it’s the balance and how we live with integrity that truly matters.
CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?
LW “Lariam (the anti-malarial drug) will stop you getting malaria”…however I now know firsthand that it will also make you go crazy!
CWTM Best part of your day?
LW Definitely late morning when the coffees on and I’m in full swing of sewing and creating.
CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
LW Exhibitions are so diverse now; combining both traditional and contemporary textile techniques. I am encouraged at how textile art is crossing boundaries, combining old methods with contemporary practices, current themes and mediums. It’s incredibly exciting and inspiring to see how it is evolving and will continue to do so over time.
CWTM You’d be lost without…
LW A strange combination, but here goes…My family, my friends, my diary, Amelie (the movie), car boot sales, sunlight, chocolate and the sea.
CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
LW Read more books and write more letters.
CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
LW My Ipad ‘Patty’ and a delicious meal somewhere with a lovely glass of wine.
CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
LW Not so much in the making, but certainly in the marketing and selling of my work. I have been trying to get my work digitally printed and this has had an impact on the overall aesthetics and feel of the pieces.
CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
LW Absolutely, textiles and fibre arts are such a diverse and intriguing medium, with so many artistic possibilities. It is important to keep work fresh. Also by attending other artist’s openings, workshops and exhibitions you can support one another and be open to natural changes and developments over time.
CWTM What is next for you?
LW I have only been living and working in Melbourne for two years, so this intriguing city is still very new to me. I feel that there is so much more for me to explore, create and absorb. I intend to continue running stimulating workshops (like Fibre Arts Australia) and enjoy meeting new people and working with other creative types. Selling my own work and sourcing more one off retail outlets. Over all, I want to continue being creative, collecting buttons and enjoying every moment of what I do.