I’d first come across Kim at a DT show at the NEC where she was happily shrivelling up tyvek and layering painted Bondaweb. I bought one of her books and decided I had to get in on the act. Her ‘Experimental Textiles’ course was run at The Inkberrow Design Centre in Redditch. My husband looked at the things I brought home and referred to it as ‘Extreme Textiles’ instead, which wasn’t entirely inappropriate. I loved it! We met one weekend a month and it was huge fun learning new techniques and using different materials. It didn’t matter that I only knew how to do a running stitch as the emphasis was on ‘play’ and ‘design through process’. I began to see stitches as a form of mark making.
I also met some talented, creative women on the course. We finished in March 2015 with an exhibition at the NEC at a textile show which was great experience in itself. However four of us decided we didn’t want this to end and formed our own textile group. We booked a space at the NEC show the following March. Kim kindly took us on as an ExEx Tex group and tutored us for the next year too.
We initially called ourselves Kinetex and came up with a theme of ‘Elements’ for our first exhibition. We like to have a shared theme as it helps focus us and although we all work in different ways it gives an exhibition a sense of unity.
So we had fire, air, land and water and each took one element. I had land. I made large silk bowls and textural hangings that were reminiscent of aerial photos.
Since then, we have exhibited once or twice every year ( until COVID came along) at large textile shows at the NEC, Bristol, Leicester and Uttoxeter. We want to branch out more and are hoping to show in the spring at Art Yard in Cradley Heath although that depends on lockdown.
The numbers in our group have varied as we’ve acquired and lost members over time. We also changed our name are now called ‘On The Surface’. We always have 3D and 2D pieces and our work is quite art based. We currently have eight talented and diverse members some of whom are in other groups too including Out of Line, Prism, Meniscus and Midlands Textile Forum as-well as exhibiting in their own right. At the moment we are not on social media, it’s something we know we need to tackle. We did have a website but were hopeless at updating it.
Currently, three of us are working our way through City and Guilds, two have completed Art foundation courses. Catherine Howard went on to enrol on an MA and she’s now doing a PhD in her 60s ! I’m also a member of the Society For Embroidered Work.
What began as an exciting, non- traditional textile course has led to so many further opportunities; forming an exhibiting group, developing our individual creative practices, gaining further qualifications and giving us a supportive network of great friends.