Audrey Walker

The Black Bat Night has flown by Audrey WalkerAudrey Walker was born in 1928 in Workington, Cumbria. She went to Edinburgh College of Art from 1944 - 1948 and gained a diploma in Art - D.A. (Edin) specialising in painting.

From 1948 to 1951 she studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, again specialising in painting - DFA (Lond.). She taught drawing and painting in schools and at Whitelands College but in 1961 she made a radical change in her own art practice. She had an exhibition of "fabric collages" by Margaret Kaye and she was entranced and excited by the expressive possibilities of the textile medium - especially embroidery. Needing to know more, she joined the Embroiderers' Guild and attended evening classes as EG Headquarters.

Meditation on a small painting by RembrandtShe dicovered the rich and diverse history of textiles which are stitched by hand and machine with simple, direct, non-decorative marks. To begin, a variety of fabrics would be assembled together to act as a support for the stitching and to establish broad areas of colour and tone. Layers of fine stitches would then be built up to modulate the whole surface and to allow the gradual emergence of the image. The imagery would be figurative and derived from observations, memories, poetry and myths. It sometimes referenced the work of such artists as Piero della Francesca, Rembrandt, Titian and Greek sculptures. A few simple objects could prompt a "still life" which was concerned with the qualities of quietness and light. Explorations of colour and light are essential ingredients in all her work.

She saw the first exhibition of the '62 Group' and soon became a member of that professional group and has continued to be involved up to the present. She succeeded Constance Howard as Head of Embroidery and Textiles at Goldsmiths College in 1975 until retirement in 1988.

Encounter by Audrey WalkerRecently she has begun to work with just one layer of straight stitches on one plain fabric - she is finding this simplicity both challenging and rewarding. Her work is in many public and private collections in the UK (the V & A Museum), USA, Japan, Italy and Australia. She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts, especially embroidery.

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