Art quilt-maker, textile artist and ceramicist Jane Appelbee discusses growing up in a house full of artists…

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in making. It was inevitable. My mother was the WWII Official War Artist, Frances MacDonald, and my father was a Civil List Pensioner for Services to Art, Leonard Appelbee. Their work is in several national collections including the Tate and the Imperial War Museum. Naturally, they and their artist friends encouraged me to be creative, but I also had a great love of nature and the environment. I trained as a zoologist, then in oceanography and finally I became an environmental scientist. Now the beautiful Scottish landscape and wildlife inspire my work.

I work in both textiles and ceramics. I fell in love with ceramics at the age of ten. Being dyslexic, I tend to think and work in three dimensions so I preferred ceramics to drawing and painting. I simply love the feel of raw clay and the way it transforms during making and firing. I prefer to hand build rather than use a wheel because sculpture is my real interest in using clay.

A few years later, I discovered working with textiles. I was making practical things and clothes. My early quilts were very traditional, then I took a City and Guilds qualification in Design and Cra with Patchwork and Quilting. This opened my eyes to the possibilities and techniques within art quilting. I work almost exclusively with natural fibre fabric that I have dyed myself. I do also have a great interest in the three dimensional qualities that quilting can bring to textiles. I love the way you can stitch 3 independent layers together and they become something that behaves in a completely di erent manner with a di erent texture. I use a sewing machine o en but I also love to add at least some hand stitching to my wall hangings. I tend to have several projects on the go at the same time. When I finish a project or a commission, I tend to swap to the other medium at least for a while. My goal is to keep evolving and improving my work and to increase the number of exhibition opportunities available.

For the last 5 years I have opened my studio during NEOS in September which is a wonderful event. It is so good to have the chance to actually meet clients and interested visitors and chat with them. I exhibit and sell both ceramics and textiles at NEOS. You can see my work at Larks Gallery in Ballater and I also take part in both Art Aboyne and the Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber Festival Exhibition in the summer. I’ve had my quilts exhibited in London and I have at least one quilt at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham each year. This international show is the biggest in Europe. In 2016 my quilt ‘Starry Starry Night’ won a ‘Judges favourite’ award at this show. You can also see my work at my studio, by appointment, throughout the year.

My ceramics range in price from £30 for a small smoke fired pod to £200 for larger bird sculptures while my quilts and wall hangings start at £150 and go up to £1800 depending on the size and complexity of the piece. Smaller framed textile pieces are available for £50 to £100. I’m always happy to discuss commissions and can be contacted by e-mail at modiolus@dircon.co.uk.

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