Ruth Singer – July 2015

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Unusually for a textile artist Ruth did not study for a degree in textiles but Medieval History. Having been fascinated in fabrics since childhood Ruth took a special interest in medieval fashion, textiles and braids and on gaining her degree worked in various museums including the London Transport Museum and finally, her dream job, in the education department of the Victoria and Albert, always finding a connection with fabrics.

In 2005 Ruth decided to set up her own studio and work with textiles full time. She worked with large panels, big pieces for exhibitions and galleries but in 2008 the recession brought this to an end so she took a year out and returned to museum work again.

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The work which followed “Criminal Quilts” is a collection of small pieces based on the hands in the photos which are clearly on view. Ruth tried to depict a story about the image, usually a woman, in the photo; using the hand shape which she printed on the fabric and then hand embroidered she used old fabrics, buttons lace etc with which she thought the woman might have been familiar to build up layers and finally quilted the piece. Ruth wanted the softness and comfort of quilting to contrast with the harshness of prison life and the multiple layers of fabric to suggest layers of narrative and history. Ruth uses several techniques, ones she thinks the women might have known themselves including reverse appliqué, cutting away, trapunto quilting and scrunching always on natural dyed, rusted or stained fabric to give an aged look.


Some of Ruth’s work will be displayed in a solo exhibition called ‘Narrative Threads’ in November in Sleaford, Lincolnshire and it may tour later.  ‘Court Hands’ is on display in the museum in Stafford.

Thank you Ruth for giving us such an interesting and enjoyable talk showing how traditional techniques can be used in a most unusual way.

Report by Christine H
Photos by Vernice C

Thank you Christine & Vernice!  Ros

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