Interview with Sheila Mortlock -1

What piece are you currently working on?

I am continuing with a group of pieces that develop on-going themes of interest although I’ve recently been through a phase of wondering where my work is going – a bit of a crossroads. I say that, but when I think about it, I realise I’m still interested in the same things, surface texture, hand stitch and working with natural fabrics. A key theme over many years has been the surface texture and colours of stone and it still interests me. After looking at the surfaces of Scottish stone, more recently I’ve been exploring the textural qualities of a particular group of buildings I’ve seen in India. I have a fear of becoming formulaic – reproducing work without stretching myself and developing.

Qutub Minar, Dehli


What has your training given you?

Spending five years at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee studying textile design and embroidery has given me many things not least of which are the people, still friends, who were there at the same time. However the time spent there has definitely left a sense of the traditions of design and stitch in Scotland. During my years at DoJCAD, embroidery was taught by Marion Stewart who had been a student of Kathleen Whyte of GSA and Marion’s belief was that we were principally trained as artists who used fabric and stitch as our medium rather than paint or some other medium. The training developed our use of stitch in interpretive ways but instilled the tradition.

What is your latest favourite tool / piece of equipment / fabric / method?

Despite experimenting with a variety of techniques over the years I keep coming back to hand stitch. I like the rhythm that you find when using needle and thread and concur with the ethos of the Slow Stitch movement. I like the ‘feel’ of natural fabrics, cotton, silk and especially linen. The handle of a fabric is important to how my work develops. In recent years I have come back to print, incorporating screen or mono print into work and then adding stitch.

ADSC_0524 - Version 2



What music / radio station do you like to work to?

I really enjoy listening to BBC Radio 4 or BBC 4extra. Audiobooks are another favourite, usually crime novels – nothing like a good murder story to pass the hours. I need to have something on in the background, I’m not very good at sitting in silence.


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