The Fabric whales – what’s all that about then?

For many years Melville’s classic Moby Dick has been at the heart of my work, but I always shied away from producing work with obvious whale imagery as it never felt like it was truely my work. It was not until 2008 that I saw my first whales in the wild (killer whales in Scotland), and even they didn’t really fit the bill.  Anything else felt second hand and I didn’t feel any ownership or relationship to the images I tried to make.  I finally resolved this by making my own whales, in fabric and stuffed.  After dallying with ceramics which never really did what I wanted I was fortunate enough to find a creative textile course at my local adult education provider and I was away.  Something about the ability to layer sheer fabrics In the same way as I loved layering colour with screen printing really worked for me and as my confidence and skill level increased I tried to make more ambitious things, and the whales evolved from that.   

The Great Heidelburgh Tun
The Great Heidelburgh Tun

They are all the same size, made from the same pattern and made by me, by hand.  I source the fabrics in a variety of ways.  Some are digitally printed by me with images or text or both, sometimes fabrics are layered.  When I visit places I often search out fabric shops and buy fabric that catches my eye, or I think may make lovely whales.  Occasionally when someone has offered to take a whale and I can’t see one I have that suits them I will see something and think that will be perfect for their whale.  I don’t do requests.