Friday, May 28, 2010


Alysn Midgelow-Marsden works with embroidered textiles using a wide range of contemporary textile and mixed media techniques.  Although she works primarily in metal shims, her work also includes dying, painting, piecing and burning fabrics and often features embellishment by hand and machine.  Author of 'This Lustr'ed Cloth', Between the Sheets with Angelina' and
'The Continuous Thread of Revelation', she also manages and directs the Beetroot Tree Gallery in Draycott, Derbyshire England.  


RUNNING WITH SCISSORS STUDIO:  Favorite place you’ve been or lived?
ALYSN:  I’ve not had a chance to live in many places or travel very widely as yet (one day …), but have found interest in all of the places I have been to, whether because of their physical looks or social history or the people I meet there.
Living in rural Wales was great, I still miss the sea and eventually would like to live next to it again wherever in the world that might be.
I am very much looking forward to a visit to Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula in December as I have been fascinated with ancient cultures for many years, the Maya included.

RWSS:    Best advice you’ve ever received? 
ALYSN: Never have 3 children (immediately ignored!)

RWSS:   Worst advice you’ve ever received? 
ALYSN: Never have 3 children.

RWSS:    Your roots in embroidery were encouraged by your Grandmother.  Is anyone else in your family artistic? 
ALYSN:  My mother has taken to embroidery since retiring, so something artistic must have been lurking under the covers there, one of my sisters is a Reader in Performance Studies and is a dance theatre performer and each of my children are creative in their own ways, though whether this influences their career choice, or is simply a pleasure for them in their lives, we shall see …


RWSS:  What inspires your creativity? 
ALYSN:  I think that I am most interested in attempting to visualize the emotions we have or the feeling in a moment or a place rather than the actual physical look of it. Several early paintings explored my feelings after the death of a friend. I remember having one of those ‘oh, yes’ moments when looking at the progression of Mondrian’s work from realism to expressionism, seeing how a series of boxes and lines in very simple colours could dance.

RWSS:    Are there any of your own pieces that you can’t bear to part with? 
ALYSN:  Most of them, usually just after I have sold them! There have been a few pieces with very personal imagery, perhaps invisible to anyone else, and I feel the loss of those when I think about them. However, the pleasure of knowing that someone loves the work enough to buy it is a compensation, and I am sure that they all go to ‘good homes’.


RWSS:  Any indispensable tools or equipment? 
ALYSN:  I guess fundamentally my brain and hands are the most indispensable, though the lack of a sewing machine and a computer would take some adjusting to!

RWSS:   Favorite medium to work with? 
ALYSN:  For a while now I have been concentrating upon using primarily metals and metal cloths which have lots of very interesting properties and I suspect that this will continue, but I never give up exploring alternative media and discovering which of these can add statements to the pieces I am creating.


RWSS:    What is the most rewarding part of being involved with and managing The Beetroot Tree Gallery? 
ALYSN:  There are various favorites. One is a personal satisfaction from having developed and grown a business through difficult times, in the challenging market sector of contemporary art. Another is being in a position to help other artists (including those who work for me at the Gallery) to sell their work and to develop their careers. Another is the pleasure of having been able to provide for the visitor an experience which they gained from, whether exhibitions, events, installations, workshops etc. or a piece to take home, knowing it will be appreciated so much more than a print off the shelf from a chain store.


RWSS:    What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
ALYSN:  There are two very different aspects which I find exciting about the current world of textile art. First is the gradual acceptance of textiles in the fine art world as a valid art material for expression, and the understanding of makers using textiles as a medium that they should be taken seriously as artists in a wider context than the ‘ghetto’ of the textile only shows and exhibitions. Certainly at the Beetroot Tree we usually show textiles alongside other media, showing the diversity of expression between makers using the different media. Second is the continuing joy with which the creative textile makers, from hobbyists to professionals, take in exploring new possibilities and ideas from other art and craft forms or materials from sources as wide as  the natural world or high industry are taken up with dizzying speed and great resourcefulness. I personally do not think that there is another creative field which is as broad a church as the textile/embroidery arena.


RWSS:   Who would you most like to meet and how would you spend the day? 
ALYSN:  The difficulty of questions like this is that there are people from all walks of life and periods of history who would be interesting to meet, many I don’t even know names for such as the Miao maker of a ‘folded thread book’ which I recently acquired and am fascinated by, or the embroideresses of African Kuba cloths etc. People from times and places where a vision and skill has been developed to truly exceptional heights. If I restrict myself to living artists, I might choose two artists whose work could be seen as diametrically opposed, but both, I suspect create with both thoughtfulness and passion. The first is Andy Goldsworthy. I would love to talk to and watch and perhaps work with him as his work is apparently calm and simple, finding pattern and order in the natural environment or natural materials, drawing something of the nature of the material then juxtaposing the obvious and expected with surprising  structures or unexpected properties, though never creating jarring, unnatural or overbearing forms. At the opposite extreme, meeting Zandra Rhodes and watching her develop work for one of her wild and extravagant collections would be inspiring. Perhaps because I sit somewhere between these extremities, working with either would be a challenge and I am sure that I would learn a great deal from both.


RWSS:   What is the one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you? 
ALYSN:  Perhaps that I once wanted to be an engineer – this is not only surprising as something very different to the creative path I have chosen now but with my limited attention span for logical and methodical processes and following rules, it is a very good thing for the world that no-one relies upon my calculations!


RWSS:   Best part of your day? 
ALYSN: Ticking something off my ‘to do’ list as finished. I hate days when I feel that I have been working all day and achieved nothing, unless I have been able to spend a good run of time making in the studio without interruption – then that counts as achieving something as well.

RWSS:   I’d be lost without…
ALYSN:  The internet!

RWSS:  Can we look forward to seeing a new book from you in the near future? 
ALYSN:  At least three are in the pipeline, mostly in the planning stages – each very different from each other and each as exciting to me in their own right.


RWSS:   What would you like to be remembered for? 
ALYSN:  Inspiring and encouraging others to make the most of their potential, in life and creatively and for making artwork which endures and gives thoughtful pleasure to the viewers.

RWSS:   What would you do with a few extra hours each day? 
ALYSN:  I would get around to making more of the work that I imagine making as I make other work.

RWSS:   Your favorite luxury in life? 
      ALYSN:  Good coffee and red wine.


RWSS:   Favorite quote?  
ALYSN:  "An artist is not a special kind of person, but everyone is a special kind of artist". (Author unknown)

RWSS:   Any words of wisdom? 
ALYSN:  Create with passion, enjoy the process of creativity and quit worrying about the end of the journey before you are there.  (Does that count as wisdom?)

We are pleased to feature Alysn's book This Lustr'ed Cloth in our online store - it continues to be an excellent resource for textile and fibre artists.

To learn more about Alysn and her work please visit The Beetroot Tree gallery website.
All photos courtesy of Alysn Midgelow-Marsden.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Hosted by Linda and Laura Kemshall, Design Matters TV allows you to enjoy the inspiration of taking exciting workshops without ever leaving the comfort of your own home!

Covering all aspects of creative art and craft techniques, Linda and Laura will kickstart your creativity as they provide technical advice and expertise in quilt making, embroidery, painting, drawing, sketchbooks and more.


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