Friday 17 August 2012

Celebrating UK Artists 6: Linda & Laura Kemshall

Welcome to the sixth interview celebrating the talents of British artists in the field of scrapbooking, photography, mixed-media, art journaling, feltmaking and quilting.  Some names you may know and some may not be so familiar but they are all hugely talented.

This week we have the joy of two guests interviewees, Linda Kemshall and her daughter, Laura.

*Brief Bio
Linda painting
Laura drawing
We are mother, Linda & daughter, Laura who work together as DesignMatters, an online teaching resource established in 2001.  We have always enjoyed teaching but found it increasingly difficult to accept all the invitations we received, especially those that involved long distance travel. The perfect solution was to offer online courses. We’ve done this successfully for 12 years and for the last two and a half years have also offered DesignMatters TV. DMTV is a web based subscription TV service covering all the creative techniques we use in our own artwork. The most recent venture is the digital print service Laura is offering at Fingerprint. 

We exhibit our work individually and as part of two groups, SiX and Friends and thr3fold. We established thr3fold together with Canadian artist Catherine Nicholls and have published five thr3fold journals so far. These are printed publications that include a CD with video content. Laura and I also co-wrote ‘The Painted Quilt’ for publishers David and Charles.

*Who or what are your creative influences?  And why?
We are fairly self sufficient and don’t seem to need many external influences. That sounds almost arrogant but it’s not meant to be! Perhaps it’s because we have each other as kindred spirits and we work so closely together that we don’t really need anyone else’s imput. Having said that, we do enjoy visits to galleries and museums and like to keep current with the art world in general rather than focussing only on the world of textile arts.

*What is your preferred medium of creativity?   What appeals to you about this?
Both of us are probably best known for our quiltmaking but there would be no quilts if we didn’t make paintings and work in our sketchbooks to explore themes and develop ideas. We love painting, printmaking and altered books as much as we love working with fabric and thread. Fortunately we can often translate our sketchbook ideas directly to cloth, especially now we have the facility to print large scale images on fabric. Both of us are currently exploiting the creative potential of digital print to create quilts with much enlarged original drawings and paintings.

What other areas of creativity do you dabble in?
This might be a very long list! I think when you love to work with your hands you appreciate most areas of creativity don’t you? As I’ve already mentioned, we love printmaking. I have a small printing press which allows us to make intaglio prints and collagraphs but we also print paper and fabrics using block printing techniques and lino blocks. We dye almost all the fabrics for our own quilts and use lots of different surface design techniques such as discharge and painting. We knit, make clothes, embroider.......... The list goes on and on - it might be easier to say what we don’t have a go at!!!

Linda's Romans Sketchbook

and resulting quilt

What is one of your earliest creative memories?
Laura remembers sewing with a big plastic needle and lengths of wool when she was very small. I think she may have been about three years old when I introduced her to sewing cards. I always think children learn by example and they love to copy what the grownups are doing. I was always sewing and so it was natural that she and her sister would do the same. Just like cooking - my mom used to stand us children on a chair so we could reach the kitchen counter to roll pastry. There was a terrific mess of flour everywhere but we learnt to love cooking (and eating). I organised a young quilters group for a number of years when my children were small. The children loved to make quilts and were thrilled when they won rosettes at the quilt shows.
My own creative memories are not of sewing but of cutting things up! My sister and I were given old, glossy shopping catalogues and a pair of scissors each - we enjoyed hours of happy cutting out of clothes to dress our paper ‘dolls’.

Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”   How did you find this transition worked in your life?
I was lucky in that I never stopped being totally absorbed in drawing and painting. I went straight to art college on leaving school and Laura’s experience was very similar. I can understand that people’s lives get in the way of their creativity but for us it has always been a full time occupation and not a hobby that has to fit in around more mundane activities. I believe you need to be a little bit selfish. Anyone can make time for what’s important if they want to. For us it’s not an option, just a way of life!

Linda's sketch

Linda's Bird in the Hand quilt
How did you find your creative style?
By making lots of work. As the saying goes, ‘just do it’. You can read all the books and take all the classes going but the only way to learn and develop personal style is by sheer determination, experience and effort. The more work you produce the easier it is to become discriminating about the quality of what you create. You find yourself constantly evaluating the results and making comparisons. If something works, do it again, if it doesn’t try harder next time!

What activity do you use to jumpstart your creativity?
A deadline works miracles! We make a video every week on a creative subject that is dear to our hearts or something we are involved with in a current piece of work. Knowing that the cameras will be pointing in your direction is a great incentive to get going! Sometimes an exhibition deadline or a competition theme is what starts the ideas flowing. Sometimes we just respond to the world around us because we can’t resist making something beautiful. Almost always the first part of the journey is to work in a sketchbook.

*Where you can find Linda and Laura

Book Giveaway (because it's my birthday today!)

Would you like to win a hardback copy of Linda and Laura's book, The Painted Quilt.

Although aimed primarily for people using textiles, the ideas and techniques found here will inspire mixed media artists and art journallers.

To have a place in the draw, leave a comment below by 9am on Monday 20th August and Mr Random Generator Husband will be put to use again!

If you were able to ask Linda or Laura anything what would you ask?  Please add your question to the comments below.

See you next Friday for an interview with Kirsty Wiseman


  1. I've been away from blogland for a while, so I've enjoyed flicking through your back catalogue. Good luck with the craft fair tomorrow. I didn't realise you were so close - I started working in Solihull a couple of months ago.

  2. Happy Birthday Bernice!
    Thank you for featuring Linda and Laura! I would love to win a copy of their book!

  3. Happy Birthday Bernice - enjoy your special day. Fascinating reading about Linda and Laura - how great for mum and daughter to be able to create and inspire together. Thank you for gving me the opportunity of winning a copy of their book lol Susiesu xxx ps good luck at the Craft Fair


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