Barbara’s textile talent is no stitch up for sure

Textile artist Barbara Shaw
Textile artist Barbara Shaw

A self-taught textile artist who creates ‘paintings’ by hand stitching pieces of fabric together is this year’s artist in residence at Claydon House.

By the summer, Barbara Shaw will have produced seven pictures using the National Trust’s stately home in Middle Claydon as inspiration, and is currently working on a picture focusing on the ironwork of the grand staircase.

Barbara Shaw's Claydon House

Barbara Shaw's Claydon House

She has already produced her first work, which is her interpretation of the grand 18th century house in winter, and she is plans to create something with Florence Nightingale in mind, who was a regular visitor.

Mrs Shaw will be demonstrating and chatting to visitors at the house over the Easter weekend, and exhibiting all seven finished pieces around July/August time.

The interesting feature of her work is the way it looks like watercolour from a distance but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that pieces of fabric have been used to build colour and texture.

Mrs Shaw said: “I’ve come to it very late in life, so I think people find it inspiring. I started doing patchwork and had scraps of material left over, so I started making cards.

Mrs Shaw, who lives and works in Aylesbury, said: “I was just sticking bits of fabric on top of eachother using Pritt Stick, but then I started hand stitching the fabric instead.

“It’s like a jigsaw coming together. It’s such an easy medium, and it builds colour like a painting.

“It can be quite intense, but it’s knowing when to stop. If I aimed for perfection, I’d never get anywhere.”

Mrs Shaw’s uses ribbons, chiffon, lace, tweed, cottons and ‘anything textured’ to create her pieces, which look like watercolour paintings when seen from a distance

The mother-of-two first exhibited with the Bucks Open Studios in 2002 but has only been working full time as an artist, and produced more than 50 pictures last year alone, many of which are commissions.

Mrs Shaw says she is best known for her picture of the Cotswold sheep, and is currently in the middle of creating another one for a customer, but due to the nature of the materials she works with, she says no picture is ever the same.

Most recently, she created a picture of her son’s wedding venue in Somerset for the soon to be newlyweds to use on their invitations.

She said: “It’s lovely because it’s something personal and special to them.”

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