Alison Ellen

Alison Ellen

Medium: Textiles and Hand Knitting

Find out which is Alison's favourite place in Farnham to see art and craft.

What are you working on at the moment and where do you find ideas for your work?

I’m working on orders and preparing new work for Surrey Artists Open Studios this autumn. During lockdown, ideas for colours and textures came from my surroundings in the garden, landscape, and colours of buildings.

What medium do you use in your practice and why?

I design hand-knitted garments, using raw British wool spun to my specification, which I then dye to produce rich, subtle colours, with some patterning dyed into the yarn. I use the stitches to sculpt and shape the clothing.

What motivates you to make work, who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?

I trained in textile design in Farnham and am deeply influenced by the approach of my tutors at that time, who encouraged us to understand thoroughly both materials and technique. The colours and textures of dyed wool draw me to get my hands in there working, and to invent and manipulate designs.

What is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?

No favourite piece, just a constant journey of exploration: but the favourite moment is watching someone feel transformed when trying on a garment.

What is your proudest achievement?

Perhaps showing that knitting is a creative, constructive textile technique by curating the touring exhibition Soft Engineering, textiles taking shape with two like-minded weavers, and publishing four books on designing in knitting with Crowood Press.

What is the most indispensable item or tool in your studio?

Knitting needles!!

Where is your favourite place to see art / craft?

The Craft Study Centre in Farnham, and the V&A museum in London are favourites. So much to learn by looking at work from the past.

Why Farnham as a place to practise your art / craft? What is it about being part of the town that is special?

Farnham is so rich in artists and craftspeople, many of whom have stayed in the area since attending UCA, and they are a strong community. It is a visually beautiful town, I love the building materials and colours, and the surrounding countryside where I live.

Can you share a craft ‘secret’ or your favourite hidden craft thing / space / memory?

Memories of the intensity of drawing, learning, observing, exploring, recording and dyeing wool as a student in Farnham in the 1960s.

Being part of a community of makers is…

…a great bonus and support. Working in isolation, we need each other to discuss ideas, contacts, and selling opportunities.