Introducing new member Helen MacRitchie
Art and science were never subjects that coexisted in my Scottish school curriculum. One had to be picked over the other. Creative subjects sadly slipped away when I chose the direction of high school chemistry, then pharmacy, in university and beyond. Those arty pursuits were relegated to an occasional hobby in the evening although I often wished for more. A change of country and language turned out to be just the chance to rethink my career.
In 2000 I relocated to Switzerland and, looking after 2 small children at home, the opportunity came to study once again. This time I chose textiles and embroidery. It kept me sane in a non-English speaking environment, and I loved it. After a further move four years later to Australia, I discovered the world of wool felting and never looked back. Fast forward fifteen years, I am back in the UK with an art practice founded in wool, developed from my home studio in the countryside of Oxfordshire. There, I hand dye and felt a variety of wool types, before I hand and machine embroider, incorporating other fibres and materials to achieve texture and detail.
My current work explores the themes of belonging, home, ancestry and personal connections with the landscape. After the light and colour of Australia I am, perhaps, more attuned to the subtle hues of the countryside here, and it inspires me.
Since 2016 I have exhibited my art with Untethered fibre artists in Australia and more recently with Prism Textiles in UK. After my experience in the pharmaceutical industry I often consider scientific or medicinal connections in my work, using motifs and symbols as metaphorical representation of wider issues. A scientific representation of the indigo blue pigment featured in Aniline, looks at the fragility and complexity surrounding mental health issues.
Breathtaking examines air quality and the associated recurring health issues such as asthma.
Atherosclerosis (the hardening and narrowing of arteries which can restrict blood flow) is the subject of Searching for a way through made using wool yarn dyed with hawthorn, a tincture of which was a medieval treatment for heart conditions.
It feels like I can combine science and art after all!
Photography is credited to artist unless otherwise indicated.