Birds, Birds, Birds!
Jan Dowson is a textile artist and award-winning teacher of national renown.
Working in constructed textiles, her motivation being to promote hand embroidery, Jan admits that she never feels fully satisfied until a surface is fully stitched! Whilst she does also use machine techniques, applique and mixed media in her work, textiles give her a flexibility to create painterly effects with the added bonus of a tactile three-dimensional quality.
Much of the work on show is very meaningful to her personally and includes the memory cloth and slow-stitch techniques which she promotes both as processes and movements, each bringing the opportunity to use some of her mother’s treasured linen she remembers so well from her childhood.
I draw my inspiration from the natural environment, happiest by the sea, or walking through woodland with my little dog Bertie. My wonderful garden is also a great source of inspiration and we actively encourage wildlife, especially loving the birds. I have the perfect viewing window as I work in my studio.
I fully immerse myself in my inspirational source, collecting everything and anything – shells, sea glass, feathers, twigs, rusty nails and flowers and leaves which I press and create eco-dyed fabrics and papers.
Studio time includes lots of experimentation and sketchbook work, my focus being all things from nature. I explore a wide range of mixed media processes, techniques and concepts related to the production of softness and textures that working in textiles bring.
My passion is hand embroidery. Developing a cloth that has a totally stitched surface mostly very simple straight stitches that give me the same mark as a pen or a pencil.
As in my sketchbooks, I love to stitch into paper and use mixed media to create a surface, using very few stitches and machine embroidery to create the desired effect.
I have also recently enjoyed working in 3d; this is a relatively new process for me, which I am loving.
For more than 20 years, Jan taught locally and regionally, latterly becoming the Curriculum Manager at the Community Learning Centre in Cleethorpes. Her passion for teaching and her vast knowledge and creativity led to her winning the Beryl Dean National Teaching Award (2015), the Worshipful Company of Broderers Award (2014/15) and the City & Guilds Gold Medal of Excellence for Teaching Creative Textiles (2014/15) and for this achieving an additional prize for outstanding achievement which was given to her by The Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.
Since 2016, Jan has been concentrating on her practice and freelance teaching, and travels the country giving talks and workshops, as well as regular workshops at Gallery Steel Rooms.