Mandy Pattullo is a UK textile artist. Her show Well Worn Work is exhibiting at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2023 at Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate from 16 – 19 November 2023.
Mandy, your textile collages rescue and rework disintegrating textiles, breathing life into old fabrics. Where did your desire to work with fragmented fabrics come from and what can visitors to The Knitting & Stitching Show expect from your exhibition?
I have always been interested in old things and how they hold stories. This started as a child when my mother showed me the “best” dress of my great grandmother. I was fascinated with the fabric itself which was silk which I don't think I had ever seen or touched before and the size of the dress which revealed the size of the woman who wore the dress. I have been buying and collecting old garments and textiles all my adult life but in the last twenty years have had the confidence to actually make my own mark on them through cutting them up, unpicking to reveal the workings and then reassembling into collages and embellishing with stitch. The work done by other women long ago becomes more mine. In my exhibition, you will see collages using very old printed fabrics, bits of quilt, French fabrics. Everything is well worn and then worked into with my own hand.
You use locally made quilts, garments and textiles in your work. What does this bring to the experience of the work and also to your own relationship with your home environment?
I taught for many years in an art college and when I left, I knew that I wanted to work by hand and to also relate what I did to local textile traditions. My studio is just a few miles from the site of Joe the Quilter’s cottage and I am close to County Durham which many believe was the best quilting area (the Welsh may say different!). Beamish and the Bowes Museum hold large collections of quilts. I had made proper bed quilts in the past but wanted to use quilts rather than make more and started to source very worn and scrappy quilts to use. Not the sort that you could proudly put on the bed. Collecting the quilts over the years has led to many interesting contacts with people who have stories of their making or patterns. I keep my collection of old quilts in my studio which has always been moth free. It is important to me that I can see them in a pile in the corner to remind me of what my practice is about. I do have some at home too but these are the ones I would never cut up.
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