I have always been a maker of things, and the signposts of my journey as an artisan and artist are defined by the excitement and joy of exploring new techniques.
My innate sense for colour, shape and balance first found expression in painting on glass, in linoprinting and collaging, in assembling dioramas in cigar boxes, in sculpting with papier mâché, and in weaving and sewing simple garments.
All these creative skills were put aside when I embarked on a career in the ivory towers of university. However, the call to be a maker rather than a university teacher did not remain unheard. I integrated academic experience with creativity and started working as an exhibit designer in my birthplace Munich, Germany.
Making things became my profession after moving to British Columbia in Western Canada, where I opened a home based studio for functional art. I started painting furniture and printing hand dyed fabrics in response to the rapidly growing trend to refinish and reuse creatively. My work, in bright colours and abstract designs, was shown in exhibitions and window displays in and around Vancouver.
I have since moved back to Europe and lived for a long while in the West of Ireland before taking up residence in Wales, and since 2014 in Perthshire, Scotland. During that time my focus shifted from functional art to more decorative work, to printmaking and painting applying a variety of techniques.
Then came the moment when I was asked to help promote the idea of reusing and repurposing materials by running classes in vintage furniture painting. This task reconnected me with expertise acquired in the past and led to many contacts with organisations and projects advocating waste reduction, recycling, the need to introduce new economic models of sustainability and circularity.
Learning how the fashion industry that we are familiar with harms the environment and fashion workers rights, and how much waste we produce because we treat clothing as throw-away items gave me a veritable shock. My response was to start altering some of my clothes rather than buying new ones – and I rediscovered my love of sewing and fabrics. I attended sewing and embroidery classes and eventually decided to make textile art the new direction in my creative practice.
Now I hand-tailor unique garments made mainly from repurposed fabric and contribute to the production of sustainable fashion of high quality, and thus to a section of the circular economy. I feel proud that I was able to transition my small business in this direction, and I definitely like being noticed when I wear my own creations showing flamboyant colours and contemporary designs in my unique signature style.
My studio is located near Coupar Angus in Perthshire (check the business hours on my Facebook page because they may change according to Covid-19 restrictions). I sell from my studio, from my own web shop and from my Perthshire Artisans shop.
Photo by Olle Borgar for Perthshire Artisans