Steph discovered the magic of wet felting by chance in 2011, during a holiday in the Scottish Borders, when she came across the work of Moy Mackay in a local gallery. She fell in love with the fabulous colours, the textural vibrancy and the emotional range achieved in a material which she had never seen used in such a way before.
Steph has always made things. From a very young age, she was encouraged to draw, paint, stick and sew, and as she grew, she discovered it was a successful way to get what she wanted, whether that was an item of clothing, an accessory or a toy. Steph’s mum always had a sewing or knitting project on the go and Steph loved to join her on her trips to the local fabric and wool shop, surrounding herself with the possibilities afforded by the colours and textures of the raw materials. Inspirational trips to galleries and creative friends, as well as a supportive art teacher at high school, Miss Ferguson, helped to grow Steph’s interest and abilities and as she grew, from teenager to adult, she discovered a new freedom spending days away from home walking in the local Worcestershire countryside and further afield with friends.
Steph studied Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths, University of London, during the mid-nineties, where concepts seemed more important than the work itself. Although this education was fascinating and mind-widening, Steph left university feeling a bit lost, lacking confidence and unable to continue to create her own work. Moving to Derbyshire in 1999, she still itched to create, but the reality of family life and running her own business got in the way, and she did very little artistically for many years.
But Steph’s chance encounter with Moy Mackay during her inspirational Scottish holiday led to taking a short course in wet felting at the beginning of 2012 and the love affair was sealed! She went on to build her skills with Fiona Duthie’s feltmaking course, Surface Design Online. Since then she has been working away, as and when time has allowed, developing her passion for and understanding of this amazing material. The birth of her youngest daughter has given Steph the chance to take stock and turn her love for felting into a new and exciting career and she’s thoroughly enjoying making her creativity central to her life again after so much time.
Much of Steph’s work has been inspired by walking in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside and Peak District (as well as travelling in her camper van) encountering stunning sunrises, cloudscapes and sunsets, the wool lending itself to recreating the shapes, layers and textures found in our skies. The large scale of many of her ‘paintings’ heightens the emotional connection and sense of place achieved, and enables a wealth of detail and contrast seldom found in felted media.