All images: Claire Wellesley-Smith. Photographer: Carolyn Mendelsohn
In November, we host a virtual workshop with Claire Wellesley-Smith. Lydia Caston interviewed Claire for Selvedge Issue 93. Here’s an extract, which introduces her philosophy: “In response to a rapid textile production industry and changing consumer habits, Wellesley-Smith reverts to a slower and more meditative medium. Her firm belief in the healing powers of textile practices has been the common thread in her workshops. In 2006, she hosted ‘A Healing Environment’ project in East Yorkshire, where she enhanced in-patient psychiatric facilities by creating emotionally engaging, vividly coloured wall hangings.”
“Her projects highlight the therapeutic significance of the making process. Her philosophy is to integrate calmness and contemplation into our textile creations. Wellesley-Smith assembled these ideas in her 2015 book, Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. She applies a learning-through-doing philosophy and encourages her readers to take a more considered and leisurely approach to their creative process. Stitching in particular synthesises many of Wellesley-Smith’s thoughts about materiality and mental health. The repetitive rhythm of hand-stitching, producing single moments one after the other, offers a source of therapy. It is an immediate means to enter the world of the momentary and the mindful; it requires little material and can be picked up at any moment of the day. It is a daily distraction that Wellesley-Smith indulges in each morning. She even keeps a special stitch diary and encourages her readers to start their own.”
“Sustainable sewing has also informed Wellesley-Smith’s way of working. Repair was once a household practice that became increasingly outmoded with the mass availability of inexpensive clothing. However, Wellesley-Smith’s work has given new life to this practice and she even turns to her own anthology of past projects to repurpose fabrics. Her works have incorporated everyday objects from dug up rusty nails to delicate flower petals for printmaking. It’s therefore not surprising that the artist encourages us to explore the potential fabrics in our kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms. At a time when the textile industry stands as one of the largest polluters in the world, Wellesley-Smith’s making and mending philosophy comes as a welcome antidote.”
For more information and to book your place visit Selvedge Workshops.