Artist Interview

Chichester Art Trail Artists

A studio interview with Debs Harwood of The Textile Space in Charlton

To keep our Artist Interview series on the boil after the 2018 Trail and before the preparations for 2019, we decided to arrange a summer holiday outing to a studio destination. We booked a visit to meet Debs Harwood in her Textile Space in Charlton (noting that it is in a beautiful Downland setting and opposite the Fox Goes Free pub…)

I went as Trail Ambassador, of course, but I also love and work with textiles. Terry (husband and Trail Treasurer) wanted to come as he is always keen to sneak some textile or patterning into his framing. Then there was Ellen, (daughter and Trail Photographer) wearer of as many handmade textile garments as her Mum can make. Finally, Treacle the dog who is always happy to trail along if she can get attention and a decent walk.

So…scene set, family event, amazing place, creativity and inspiration abound – now over to Debs.

She will be taking part in the 2019 Trail with fellow textile artist Carole Richmond. Meanwhile, you can visit The Textile Space for more information about the courses on offer.

... the space has transformed over the years into a creative home, nurturing and inspirational.
Nicola Hancock

You built The Textile Space from scratch. What sort of environment did you aim to create?

Debs harwood

9 years ago, at the very beginning of this journey, I wanted an environment that was beautiful, creative and a place where my students would feel safe to learn and experiment. Luckily, I achieved it! The space has transformed over the years into a creative home, nurturing and inspirational. 

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Nicola Hancock

What is your normal day in The Textile Space?

Debs harwood

I get to the studio bright and early to light the large wood burner. It is lovely and cosy by ten when the students arrive. If it is just me, I get straight down to creating my own work. This could be anything from dying fabric to sitting at my sewing machine.

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Nicola Hancock

You clearly love all things textile. Why? And do you have a favourite?

Debs harwood

I fondly remember my Grandmother teaching me needlepoint. That is my first memory of loving textiles and the experience of learning with my hands. But, I’ve kept coming back to it because it appears in every aspect of life! From waking up and putting on our clothes, to falling asleep between the sheets with our head on a pillow. I’d have to say my favourite textile is cashmere. It’s not a material I do a great deal of work with but I love to wear it!

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Nicola Hancock

What is your most loved tool or piece of machinery, and why?

Debs harwood

My most loved tool are my hands because they’re what I trust the most. My most loved machine is an extravagant, long-arm sewing machine on a 12ft wide frame. There is nothing that can’t be done with it (except for buttonholes)!

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Nicola Hancock

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Debs harwood

Every year, I teach a 6-month Foundation Course in all things textile and I have just started teaching the new Foundation cohort. Their work at the very beginning is always so exciting as they’re just starting to explore their potential!

At the moment, my own work is an exploration of the sense of place. I have gone back to my roots and am developing a series of handmade cushions alongside some smaller wall pieces. This is how I first began creating and it’s amazing coming back to it with a different, dare I say, older eye.

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Nicola Hancock

When you are creatively lost or frustrated, does your space inspire you?

Debs harwood

The studio is set on the edge of the Goodwood Estate. Surrounded by peace and beauty, the space itself seems to have absorbed that. So, already it is a place of calm. This allows me to just work through and surely enough, whatever cloud was there passes.

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Nicola Hancock

What time of year or day do you most enjoy in the Textile Space?

Debs harwood

October 1st is my favourite day of the year! My students arrive for the first day of the Foundation Course and suddenly the space is filled with nervous excitement! Beginning a course that is solely about creating what you want to create can be a daunting thing, but also one of the most rewarding! Being a part of that is always special!

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Nicola Hancock

Has The Textile Space fulfilled your dreams, and what ambitions do you have now?

Debs harwood

It has gone well beyond fulfilling my dreams and my ambitions for the future are simply to continue to make and teach until the day I drop!

Photographic Credit: Ellen Hancock
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