Wendy Dolan – Stitched Textile Art

My creative journey, and enthusiasm for working with fabric and thread, started early on in my teens when I was introduced to a variety of hand embroidery techniques. Combined with my love of drawing and painting, I soon discovered that stitching, or mark making with thread, allowed me to build exciting textured surfaces.

During my degree course I discovered freehand machine embroidery and I continue to be amazed at the range of textures and original effects you can create on a basic domestic sewing machine, using just a straight and zigzag stitch. Combining different stitching, painting and printing techniques gave me a broad range of skills with which to experiment and to develop my own personal style. Studying for a Diploma in Creative Embroidery in the early eighties amplified my enthusiasm and I then started to create and exhibit my work.

Inspiration comes from the world around me, the landscape, seascapes, natural forms and architecture. Trees and tree bark provide fascinating forms, shapes and textures, whether you are looking at individual trees, a copse or a forest. The seasons present a constantly changing vista from the bare branches of winter, the fresh green shoots of spring, the rich foliage of summer and the wonderful glowing colours of autumn. The forest floor reveals snowdrops, wood anemones and bluebells in the spring and a textured blanket of brightly coloured leaves in the autumn, hiding toadstools and fungi.

Mapping the Downs - Sticked textile
Aspiring arches

I love looking at the surfaces and textures of walls: dry stone walls covered in moss or lichen, flint walls, or brick and plaster walls which have become weathered and distressed. I record my observations through sketching and using my camera.

In my series of work ‘A Sense of Place’, I explore the theme, recording memorable places and journeys. Using maps as inspiration, landscapes and architectural images are interpreted with fabric, stitch and texture. This has resulted in many private commissions, creating personal recollections of memorable places.
I had visited Sussex Guild Shows at Ditching Village Hall and Michelham Priory and was impressed by the quality of the work being exhibited. In 1990 I applied for membership and was delighted to be accepted. I found this perfect platform on which to exhibit and sell my work and have enjoyed exhibiting regularly at all Guild events and have my work for sale in the Sussex Guild Shop. I exhibit regularly as a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, and enjoyed many years attending Art in Action, Oxfordshire and Standen House National Trust. I am looking forward to a solo show at Upton House, National Trust Warwickshire, in the summer of 2023.

My work continues to explore surface texture within the environment and also, patterns and vibrant colours inspired by Indian Textiles. This is evolving following my experiences as a lead tutor on textile tours to various regions of India.

As an experienced tutor and lecturer, I run many courses and workshops both in the UK and abroad, sharing my love for this tactile medium. I am the author of ‘Layer, Paint and Stitch’, Search Press, which aims to encourage others to explore this subject and have written several articles for textile magazines.
Over the years I have worked on a number of commissions, both large and small, including stage curtains for Royal Caribbean International cruise ships and a large Millennium wall hanging for Ashridge House in Hertfordshire, as well as embroidered wedding dresses.

I continue to enjoy developing my techniques, and always looking for new ways of interpreting my ideas. To continue exhibiting my work and to promote stitched textiles as a fine art is a continuing objective.

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