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Linda Bellinger - Derbyshire's Premier Textile Artist

Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007

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Linda Bellinger – Fine Art Textile Artist

`set to take the art world by storm with her virtual one-woman Arts & Crafts Movement!'

Since her retirement from full-time education, former schoolteacher and multi-talented mixed media artist Linda Bellinger is set to take the art-world by storm with her virtual one-woman arts & crafts movement!

Linda lives and works in the beautiful surroundings of her home and studio at Grange Farm, Barlow Grange, near Dronfield, and takes her inspiration from the Derbyshire countryside to create and produce vividly colourful, tactile impressions of the landscape in a mixed medium which she describes as `Fine Art Textiles’.

Although the recently retired schoolteacher and art lecturer bridles at the use of the term `expert’, the art world would be hard-pressed to find anyone with her expertise and experience in her chosen medium. She has taught City & Guilds textiles and embroidery within the Education Authority’s Creative Studies syllabus for many years, and continues to lecture and teach specialist workshops to textile and embroidery groups. Linda is also a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild, Lichfield Advanced Workshops, Sheffield - Art Through Textiles, and the locally prestigious, Peak District Products group chaired by the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Her distinctive and accomplished textile work has been exhibited locally and nationally at venues including the Museum of Modern Art, Mid Wales, Birmingham City Art Gallery, the Commonwealth Institute in London, the Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield, Chatsworth House, and many others over a twenty year period.

Linda has developed her work over the last twenty five years from drawing and painting, (mainly landscapes in acrylics) - towards the medium of textiles, which she discovered as an art form in 1981.

Since then, using fabric and thread to interpret colour, shape and form observed in the landscape, her work has been exhibited to great acclaim.

Linda’s work is impressionistic, colourful and evocative, and displays an intuitive, and perhaps even abstract response to colour, line, shape and texture. She says:

“My work is about my love of landscape, especially Derbyshire, the Peak District and the north of England, and I am excited by the visual impact of the seasonal changes and the power of colour, texture and form evolving from man’s interaction with and imposition upon the land.

I’m intrigued by the way previous cultures have moulded the landscape in which we live and left the marks of their passing on the environment in the form of standing stones, cairns, rock art and agricultural systems, and this inspires the imagery of my work, which reflects this hidden past.

I want to acknowledge the hidden things, and my work integrates fragments from the past into the present in my intepretation of the landscape”.

Asked about her usual modus operandi, Linda said:

“My work begins with my sketch book and camera. I record visual detail, colour, shape and form and take the information back to my studio, where I develop an image in my mind of what I want to create. My own drawing and painting underpins everything I do, and I mix fabrics and threads in order to express ideas directly from my drawings, adding detail, colour and texture to the surface with paint, print and fabric”.

The `surface’ in question is normally calico. Linda, who doesn’t use a frame for embroidering has experimented with a wide variety of fabrics including silk, but says, “I prefer using upholstery calico as a base because it handles better – it stitches well without compromising the surface, and is strong, firm and smooth - and I can get it in large pieces from John Lewis!’

She sometimes uses printing inks, incorporates mono-printing techniques, and dyes her threads, using colours to coordinate with the inks and paints, and explains:

“Threads pick up light differently, and I use either silk or cotton threads depending on the desired effect. In short, I suppose the essence of my work is that I use fine art techniques which travel into textiles, sort of lifting them out of the domestic female domain if you like, to create elements of landscape. I try to focus on my drawing style, interpreting small areas of colour and texture in the same way in which I use paint, lines and marks on paper. I never draw onto calico, but use loose abstract colour first and draw onto the colour using felt pens, colour sticks, brushes and paint, and then as I stitch focal point areas, shapes evolve and the landscape grows organically”. Linda’s passion for the landscape began and was nurtured by a childhood spent on her parents farm at Beverley, East Yorkshire, and has been evident throughout her life, shaping both her art and her desire to teach it.

“As a fully trained teacher, I have always been passionate about passing my developed skills and experience onto students of all ages” she says, and Linda had a vocation for teaching which was evident from the beginning. Born in 1949, she was educated at a convent grammar school in Hull, and left for Art College in Sheffield with four A levels in 1967.

After completing a BA degree in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University specialising in painting and printmaking, Linda undertook a one-year post-graduate teaching certificate course which concentrated on teaching art to secondary school students, and then taught art to secondary school students for most of the next twenty five years!

Her teaching career began in 1972 at the Dukeries Community College in New Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, where she taught English & Art, and it was during this period that Linda first developed an interest in textiles.

This encouraged her to attend West Notts College for a two year City & Guilds course in embroidery, following which in 1985 she began teaching City & Guilds Creative Studies at the same college.

Linda also studied on the Designer Craftsman Course at West Notts College from its inception, and pointed out with some satisfaction:-

“I ended up teaching the same course that I’d previously been a student on, and from 1985 until 1998 taught Embroidery, Textiles, and Patchwork & Quilting at West Notts College of Further Education”.

She has been a member of the West Notts Society of Broderers for 25 years, taking on the mantle of running the group which has around 120 members, holding workshops and classes in Mansfield for over two decades, until her retirement in 2002.

Linda, who was married at the time to a cabinet maker, took time out from teaching in 1986 to spend three years designing her then husbands premises on Arundel Street in Sheffield, and then in September 1990 she became involved in the Art Through Textiles group at Sheffield Poly and went back to being an art teacher. She taught Art & Textiles at Eckington School for twelve more years before finally retiring from school-teaching five years ago in 2002.

Retirement has allowed Linda to focus her attention on her studio work, and the on-going project of rebuilding and completely restoring the wonderful old farm-house at Barlow Grange which is her home, although she continues a weekly involvement with her Art Through Textiles group, which this year celebrates it’s 20th anniversary at the Great Sheffield Art Show.

It has also released her to pursue her passion for landscape and to launch a new career as a Freelance Textile Artist.

Linda enjoys lecturing, working to commission and exhibiting, and she is currently hard at work preparing for the Art in the Garden Exhibition at Sheffield Botanical Gardens. Her latest work will be on display at the Harding House Gallery in Lincoln, and future exhibitions and involvements include the Twisted Threads (London) Knitting & Stitching Show 2007, with venues scheduled to include Birmingham NEC, Alexandra Palace, and others in Harrogate and Dublin.

You can find examples of Linda’s work and her details on the Internet at or

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