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Hampshire eco-dyer showed work in Houses of Parliament

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Christine Highnett is a textile artist based in Wash Water.

Her creative journey has been underpinned by several formal courses and qualifications.

An Open College of the Arts course in textiles led to an HNC qualification in 1998, and an opportunity to present her work in the Houses of Parliament. Since then she has gained a distinction in City & Guilds Historical Heirloom Machine Embroidery.

Eco dyed, printed and stitched
Eco dyed, printed and stitched

Christine uses a combination of techniques in creating her expressive silk sculptural forms and wall plaques.

It’s her interpretation of themes alongside application of techniques which turn a solid craft skill base into an art form.

Her research explores textiles, art and photography to give a fusion of styles and ideas to create a contemporary version, embracing traditional and new techniques.

Silk Vase
Silk Vase

The latest of these is eco dying.

Christine loves the idea of using flowers, leaves and roots to create images on fabric and paper at random. The images are never the same, always unique.

Learning a new process during lockdown involved internet and library research into textile design and processing, and contacting colleagues in textile groups.

Eco dyed paper
Eco dyed paper

Materials had to be readily available close to home, and so initial experiments were with blackberry leaves and fruit from her garden.

She has since added hardy geranium leaves, rose flowers, rosemary leaves and onion skins, as well as eucalyptus, with successful results.

During the first lockdown she used garden plants to create eco-dyed silk fabric to cover six canvas panels. The theme was based on the pandemic, but with the aim of creating something subtle, elegant and creative.

Christine Highnett
Christine Highnett

The panels were all designed with six themes – NHS, lockdown, isolation, community, hope and freedom – to capture the difficult times we were experiencing.

Each panel was machine embroidered, hand stitched, embellished with lace, beads and fabric snippets all worked to a colour theme dictated by the fabric.

This year Christine has been eco dying papers and printing on to textiles to create further nature inspired pieces.

Handmade silk papers are combined with other fabrics and textures, together with the embellishment of machine embroidery and handstitch to create 3D and 2D pieces.

Christine’s work can be seen at Whitchurch Silk Mill until January 9. She also takes part in West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios, when she gives visitors an insight to the textile techniques included in the work.

Contact email: chrishighnett@hotmail.co.uk

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