Pam Smyth

My work for the Connections exhibition 2016 was inspired by the incredible journey made by the arctic tern from the Farne Islands in Northumberland to the Antarctic – and back again.  I like to take words – a phrase, a poem, a story, an issue – and explore them thoroughly so that the layers of ideas become layers of fabric connected by drawings and stitch. As I worked on this project, I thought about migration – the determination, courage and pursuit of purpose shown by this small bird and by people past and present.

Cloth fascinates me – the look and feel of it, the possibilities. I like the way that frayed cloth fragments have vulnerability, yet when they are layered, stitched and assembled, they can be very strong.  My work tells stories from long ago that resonate with my own searches, challenges and discoveries. For the Sacred Space exhibition I created a narrative series inspired by petroglyphs I saw in ancient caves in Arizona. My Petra Glyph character meets animal companions who share her spiritual journey. The figures are drawn in ink on cotton and stitched on linen, calico, nettle and hemp fragments.

I am an artist-educator living in Kent, England and a member of the Thirteen textile group. I work on school and gallery projects in drawing, poetry and textiles. Recently I have developed my ideas about schools as heritage sites: the children become recorders of their school’s history and locality, and I become curator when I assemble their artwork as banners.