‘Artists Meet Their Makers’ Weaving Exhibition at The Crafts Study Centre.

Exhibition: Artists Meet Their Makers

Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, Surrey.

20 April 2017.

The Crafts Study Centre is a specialist university museum open to the public, as well as a research centre and home to internationally renowned collections of modern British craft. This is an exhibition of Contemporary Art reinterpreted by West Dean Tapestry Studio in Chichester. Artists Meet Their Makers is a celebration of the skill and imagination of West Dean Tapestry Studio’s Master Weavers. The studio was set up by West Dean Founder Edward James, and has worked with many leading modern and contemporary artists including Henry Moore, John Piper, Basil Beattie, Michael Brennand-Wood and Tracey Emin.

Working With Tracey Emin

‘Black Cat’ by Tracey Emin, Carron Penney and Philip Sanderson

I was particularly drawn to ‘Black Cat’ by Tracey Emin, Carron Penney and Philip Sanderson. This was woven in 2011/12 and reminded me of my art student days in London when she exhibited her first student show with Damien Hurst.

The exhibition was organised by curator Liz Cooper and includes new works from outstanding previous projects, including ‘House of Tunnels’, woven by Katharine Swailes from a painting by Basil Beattie in 2015, and ‘Transformer’, created by Philip Sanderson from a design by Michael Brennand-Wood in 2012.

Philip Sanderson’s piece ‘Nowhere’ greeted us as we walked up the stairs. Although the tree in it looked very familiar (and even after discussing it with him) we couldn’t determine which part of Great Britain the weaving depicted ( See the website for the picture, sorry I didn’t take one of this!). We were greeted in a very friendly manner by the staff at the crafts study centre. I have to say that I was expecting the exhibition to be much larger and was surprised to see that everything was in one room with little natural light.

The exhibition was brought alive with a new film by R&A Collaborations showing Katharine Swailes in conversation with Emma Biggs & Matthew Collings, with whom she developing an interpretation of a painting.



‘Underground Sleepers’ based on a design by Henry Moore

Other works I loved were ‘Underground Sleepers’ based on a design by Henry Moore, woven by Penny Bush and Pat Taylor (Left).

Philip Sanderson weaving a new commission

Philip Sanderson weaving a new commission






I was also delighted to see that a neutral contemporary piece was in the process of being woven in situ by master weaver Philip Sanderson. This commission was based on old Holland neutral tint ink on Japanese paper by Rebecca Salter.


A commission was based on old Holland neutral tint ink on Japanese paper by Rebecca Salter.

Philip had rigged up a loom from scaffolding poles, which I liked for its immediacy. It was inspiring to see him working there. I loved watching Philip’s nimble fingers deftly wrap the grey wool and weave it along the warp. He worked in a fluid rhythmical way, tapping the bobbins onto his work, so that each line of weaving was perfectly horizontal. It was interesting to see how copying such loose, modern ink on Japanese paper can be such a meticulous process. After 24 years of working at the tapestry studio, Philip seemed to be working at super speed! He said that it could be arranged to see the tapestry studio at West Dean on a Wednesday at 1pm. He seemed slightly concerned that there was no one to follow in his footsteps when he eventually moves on, which won’t be for some time of course.

You will have to see which piece you like best when you come, the exhibition runs until July 2017, check their website for more details.

By Ali Rabjohns, textile artist, 2017.

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Between the Worlds


This gallery contains 5 photos.

It was a beautiful spring day at Sussex Prairie Gardens and the coat was finally born to the world!. After many months of work by myself and Sandra Ventris, who created the pattern for the coat and then helped me … Continue reading

Elemental Exhibition at Sussex Prairies 2016

I’d like to introduce my work with Sussex Prairies this summer and the Elemental arts group, which was created over a year ago now. We are a group of local Sussex based artists. I was very happy to be invited to exhibit my work for 2016 but due to the huge space I soon realised that I couldn’t do it by myself. So, I asked Vicky Mappin ( botanical artist), Bridget Honour (Textile Artist), Susan D’souza (Textile Artist) and Sandra Ventris (Tailor and Textile Artist) to join me in the project. I will post more information about these artists very soon!.

Here are some pictures of the projects I’ve been working on in the meantime.

'Between the Worlds' coat skirt.

‘Between the Worlds’ coat skirt.

Texture for 'Between the Worlds' Hood.

Texture for ‘Between the Worlds’ Hood.

Bubbles for 'Between the Worlds' Hood

Bubbles for ‘Between the Worlds’ Hood

Nuno Felting on 'Between the Worlds' Coat.

Nuno Felting on ‘Between the Worlds’ Coat.


'River of Gold' - detail

‘River of Gold’ – detail

One of the first things I made with Sandra is a felted nuno coat based loosely around the theme ‘ Between the Worlds’ . The silk georgette was hand dyed with natural dyes and then nuno felted using alpaca and merino fibres.



The texture of the hood was created by using ping pong balls as a resist. and then slit once felted to create a barnacle effect.

Sussex Prairies is a very magical place to be and each time I visit, there’s something to discover or inspire my creative journey.

This way of working is an extension of my experiences in Canada at The Moonrain Centre in Quebec, Canada. I look forward to responding and working with the land once more.



We do hope you’ll join us at one of the workshops we’ll be running ( see my programme 2016 for more details ) or pop in and say ‘hello’. Some of us will be working on site during July and August as Artist’s in Residence. Please contact me for more details.






The ‘River of Gold’ was inspired by walking along the Ouse river with sunlight shining on the surface of the water, alot of my pieces are inspired by the macro/micro view of the natural world.















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Ali’s Programme 2016

In my temporary studio on site at Moonrain.

I’m developing a body of work for an exhibition at Sussex Prairies in 2016 with the Art Textiles group ‘Elemental’.

The exhibition opens on 1st June 2016 and ends October 16th 2016. See below for more details:



  • 14th/15th May – I will be teaching a Two Day Felting Workshop ‘Inner, Outer’  at Tobias School of Art and Therapy, please see here for more details.


  • 36a30 July 2016. 10am – 2pm Flat and Nuno Felting at Sussex Prairies using simple natural dyeing techniques. With inspiration from the garden . Cost £65. Please contact Ali : i@feltgoodfeltfine.com for more details.



  • 6 August 2016. 10am – 2pm Felted Wild Flowers or sculptural flowerhollow forms, using resists, pebbles and 3d natural materials. With inspiration from Sussex PrairiesCost £65. Please contact Ali : i@feltgoodfeltfine.com for more details.



  • fairy13th August. Needle felted Nymphs, goddesses and fairies. With inspiration from  Sussex Prairies .
  • Cost £65. Please contact Ali : i@feltgoodfeltfine.com for more details,



Ali Web portrait 01 350px

Ali is a friendly and welcoming textiles artist and trained teacher with 20 years experience amongst all age groups. Her mission is to help people fly withtheir creative dreams by encouraging artistic expression.

“I enjoy providing an understanding, supportive and inspiring space in which others can develop their creative potential and technical knowledge, as well as a deep connection to their inner artist. I love felt because it’s a very accessible medium, which can also be seen as a craft. I enjoy seeing people feeling deeply nourished and inspired by taking time out of an often busy and stressful daily life to be creative with like-minded people.”

Other Elemental artists include:

  • Susan D’Souza – Textiles and Mixed Media
Susan is currently developing a project Inspired by the textures and shifting colours of the Prairie Gardens with the intention of making a piece of textile work each month, to record some of the beautiful moments in nature, that lift us through the course of a year.  The work will be shown together as a set of images at the prairie gardens in Summer 2016 as part of the ‘Elemental’ group show.  Working from photographs and colour studies she aims to translate the images through applique, hand painting and stitch.
Vicky Mappin – Botanical Illustrator
Vicky Mappin is a self taught botanical artist. Vicky is a member of the Society of Botanical Artists and exhibits with the Society annually in London. For the Prairie Garden exhibition she will be exhibiting seed and flower heads from the garden.
During the exhibition she will be running workshops, this will involve spending time observing the structure of chosen plant, drawing quick sketches, practise shading with a pencil, producing a drawing ready for painting, going over different painting techniques, and painting chosen subject. www.vickymappin.co.uk.

Thank you, I look forward to seeing you and working with you at one of these workshops!

Best wishes,

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‘Matrices’ Felting Workshops 2013.

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Satisfied students

Whilst it was an honour to be invited to Canada to participate in the Triennale Internationale des Arts Textiles en Outaouais, I was also lucky enough to teach two workshops on different felting techniques and meet some wonderfully enthusiastic people.

The first workshop was around textures and three dimensional surfaces. We experimented with natural 3d forms that could be easily found in nature and used felting around these as a starting point for some textural experiments. One lady used some driftwood, while another tried felting around stones and sticks. Each piece of felt was personal to the maker, I’m always amazed how different they all turn out, even when students use the same materials.


Felted pods

Felted pods




Felted driftwood

Felted driftwood


Student's Lampshade

Student’s Lampshade










In the second workshop I was seriously impressed with the level of openness and desire for new techniques from the participants. They were happy to use the workshop experience as an experimental space for creating samples. One lady ( who already sold her felt work) wanted to try out a cobweb technique. Other students used the creative visualisation to decide on the path of their project that day.

Nuno felted skirt

Nuno felted skirt

I had lots of materials available, some of the most popular being naturally dyed silk chiffon for the nuno felted scarves and garments. I hope to go back again some day.


Nuno felted scarf


Owen’s Chaps

Cobweb hands

Cobweb hands


Finished cobweb scarf


Finished Nuno scarves

Laying out Nuno felted scarves.

Laying out Nuno felted scarves.

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Magical Matrixes

Over a two week period whilst participating in ‘Matrices’ the wonderful Textiles installation trail at Moonrain, Owen and I worked well together. I created four ‘star beings’ or ‘guardians’ to hold space around the labyrinth for the four directions, as well as a ‘water being’ down in the stream running through our site.

Water Being – Ali RabjohnsSome of my happiest moments were spent paddling round in this stream to create a nest of lichen clad branches for my water being.


Some of my happiest moments were spent paddling round in this stream to create a nest of lichen clad branches for my water being.

Before I left for Canada, I created 120 metres of rainbow rope to lead people along a walking path into the centre of our space. I had originally struggled with what could be in the centre of the space but Owen came up with some beautiful ‘Halos’ stitched by hand. They are attached to strong wires that move gracefully in the wind just like the grasses in the meadow.


Halo by Owen Tuf. Photo by Ken Ewen.


When you enter the centre of our space, the Halo’s are there to greet you, gently nodding in the breeze. For me, they helped to accentuate the joy and the stillness I felt as I stood in the centre, drinking in the sights and sounds of our surrounding landscape.

Central Space with Halos by Owen Tuf. Photo by Ken Ewen.

Owen also created some little resting places: hearts filled with soil that were carefully placed along the wayside. This encouraged me to also create a natural altar of my own. We wanted the central space to feel cosy/safe and had some wonderful conversations here about our own dreams for the future.

Kathryn filling hearts with soil, by Owen Tuf.

As momentum grew towards the Vernissage, Owen and I still sang daily in the mornings. We then worked by the heat of the sun – only moving to work on the site in the afternoon when it was cooler, as it was often 30 degrees and very humid.

Owen and Ali after Evening Ceremony.Photo by Ken Ewen

The night before the opening we invited all the other artists to a candlelit ceremony on our site. We wanted to share our work and provide an opportunity to the other artists to share their own experience of working at Moonrain .

Evening ceremony. Photo by Ken Ewen

This experience began a walk by torchlight all around the installations and a sharing of our hard work over the last two weeks, people seemed not to be put off by the rain! It was a magical experience I will never forget.

The Vernissage for me went past in a blur with some great feedback and in no time at all I was saying goodbye to my new found friends. I sincerely hope to work with Owen again on other opportunities and projects.

Please look at this You tube film of the final results at the vernissage.

Ali Rabjohns Vernissage

Thank you, in my next post I will talk about the workshops I taught at Moonrain.





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Humming birds, dragonflies and bells


A month ago I arrived in Quebec to take part in the International Triennale of Textile Art in the Outaouais. The Moonrain Centre for Textile Arts run by Thoma and Gabby Ewen is tucked away in the foothills of the Gatineaux mountains. These mountains are some of the oldest in the world.

Sunset at Moonrain 2013

This is a wide open space, held so beautifully by the trees. Everything is moist and fertile. There are coyotes that howl in the distance some evenings, I saw hummingbirds, dragonflies and the worked to the constant hum of crickets in the background.

Owen (my artistic partner for this project,) and I were given site 1 on the installation trail. The whole trail is a 30 minute walking path through the forest and open land, including streams and a beautiful waterfall. Our site was essentially a huge meadow with a stream running through it.

In my temporary studio on site at Moonrain.

The theme for this Triennale was ‘Matrices’ (Matrixes) and twenty five textile artists, all of us working in different mediums stayed at Moonrain for two weeks in a tented village. We started working day by day, listening to the rhythms of the natural world. Owen and I  sang in the morning together and said prayers and blessings to each other for the day ahead. This really helped to connect easily to the land around us . We created a walking path, based on a labyrinth. Intended to take us inwards.

I  created four star beings, one for each direction of the medicine wheel – south,west,north,east. This was the first time that I wove my shamanic practice with my textile work. When I’m healing I often work with star beings and I use a star chamber, high in the upper worlds to gain clarity and inspiration for my creative projects.

The lineage I work with is from Peru, high up in the Andes. The people who live there are called the Q’ero nation and they use the archetype of serpent for the south direction. Please see my website for more details of my shamanic practice.

Southern Star being by Ali Rabjohns

Western Star Being

West was spiky because for me in the west, we deal with our shadow side and all those aspects of ourselves we pretend don’t exist.


North Star Being by Ali Rabjohns

North honours our ancestors and was placed in line with a beautiful spruce pine, as well as also connecting to the level of hummingbird and our soul’s calling.

East Star Being by Ali Rabjohns

Finally, east connects us to eagle and to the element of air.

It took us a few days to create the labyrinth path to the centre and back. As soon as we’d created the centre, it felt like something significant had fallen into place. We created an offering in the centre, connecting us to all that is, to the stars and to the seeds of the universe that live within us and that we live within.

In my next post I will talk about Owen’s work, the vernissage and my workshops.



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