Polly Woolstone – Fascinating Textile Artist, Cyclist and Traveller

Polly 1

For our May Zoom meeting 34 members of the Textile and Stitch Around Marlborough enjoyed a talk entitled “My journey with a sketchbook, camera & needle” by Polly Woolstone.  Polly started by giving us a brief resume of her work as an art teacher at a performing arts and dance boarding school. 

In 2004 Polly went on a 1500 mile sponsored bike ride around Ireland and in 2007 she took a sabbatical from teaching and went to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam finishing with two weeks in India.

On her return she realised that she had spent years helping children to create but now was time for her, so she handed in her notice and prepared for retirement.  Polly then enjoyed numerous courses as a learner rather than a tutor after her move to Oxford.

She continued her travels taking photos and using them as inspiration for her work.  A bike ride around Myanmar (Burma) gave her an opportunity to take more photos and after a cycling trip around south India Polly set up annual tours to visit textile related areas of the country.  Before embarking on a trip Polly pre-prepares concertina sketch books so they are ready to record all inspiration she comes across.

A project entitled “Whispers in the Wind” ten years after her mother’s death included a poem “Walking with Grief”, a Celtic song “May the road rise up and meet you” and a Leonard Cohen song “The birds they sing at the break of the day”.

Just before lockdown Polly finished 9 panels about the history of Ireland, its hill forts and the islands off Galway Bay where she experimented with recurring shapes. 

In her new garden studio Polly latest project was inspired by the boats along the Oxford canal and the river Thames and she has gone back to landscapes which have been influenced by staycation trips to Pembrokeshire, North Wales and Exmoor. 

In a question and answer session Polly generously shared details of the papers and materials she uses and the sketchbook and textile artists she admires.

Thank you Polly for a wonderful talk.  Let’s hope one day we can see your sketchbooks for real and that you will visit us for a workshop.

Report by Ros

Photos by kind permission of Polly Woolstone

If you would like to learn more about Polly please visit her Facebook page:  https://m.facebook.com/Polly-Woolstone-Mixed-Media-ArtistTeacher-1518216874927535/

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