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Joanna Neil has recently relocated from Bedfordshire to Lancashire. She graduated from Wimbledon School of Art in 1997 with a first class fine art degree in painting. She completed her PGCE in 1999 and since then she has taught art, art history and textiles. She has always maintained her own practice and has recently been drawn to textiles, particularly feltmaking. She continues to teach, make her own work, exhibit and also run workshops. She can be contacted through her website www.feltlikeit.co.uk and email
My work has always been based on objects. These might be quite banal objects that evoke memories for me, either by association or because they exist as a sort of souvenir. I like to find beauty in the mundane and everyday.
Some of the themes in my work developed from my children and my own childhood. Beginning with a series of drawings of my children's first shoes (which I had collected like souvenirs) I became interested in the embellishments and structural parts of the shoes. I developed the idea of the shoe being a kind of vessel. Other vessel themes then began to emerge: pregnancy, pear shapes and nesting Russian dolls. My 3D felt vessels are seamless forms developed from these ideas.
'Shoe' was a combination of a shoe and a figure - a dress up doll with capes, buckles and belts that reflected the details and designs of the shoes themselves. Since then I have explored the Russian doll as a concept and produced felt pieces that nest inside each other, resemble family portraits or exist as ambiguous forms. 'Russian Doll' is an abstracted human form with a distinctive national identity, swathed in a blanket type shawl providing decoration and comfort.
I enjoy playing with what I consider to be fine art textiles and like to work with materials and techniques suitable for my ideas rather than confine myself to one discipline. For me felt is the ideal medium to explore my ideas because of its 'range'. It can be sculptural, painterly, textural or minimal and works well with many other materials. However I have also been developing 'threads' of my ideas in print and with paint, sometimes combining all three. 'Lotte's Shoe' is a screenprint on canvas with oil paint and then stitched into.
I recently made a series of felt pieces and sculptural mono-prints in response to a piece of antique lace I came across in Bedfordshire. 'Iron and Lace' is a Norwegian and Merino fibre felt piece. I was inspired after seeing the V&A Museum's collection of ironwork to make connections between these pieces and the lace. Partly because of the similar aesthetics they have, albeit on different scales, and the contrast of the black and white. At the moment the felt and monoprints are individual explorations but I am looking into ways to combine and develop these pieces further, I can imagine the paper fusing into intricate felt extensions.