Imagine ending up with five alpacas in the field behind your house! That was how Rosalind Stoddart began making alpaca fleece textiles only a few years ago.
Using her own alpaca fleece is always the starting point to her work and combining colours is one of the main features of her art. As all her alpacas are white, this gives Rosalind the wonderful opportunity for dyeing the fleece and particularly exploring natural dyes from plants she grows specially for that purpose and from other wild plants in her garden.
Her art is a combination of felting, weaving and stitching and at present she is making beautiful cushions and wall hangings. Often all three techniques are incorporated into one piece of work using the weaving like a canvas as a painter would – she originally trained as a painter. Each piece takes a long time to make because there are so many processes to work through. Even the insides of the cushions are handmade and filled with alpaca fleece and every item is so full of natural softness.
She says she loves everything about her work, from the gentle curious nature of the alpacas, the smell of the freshly-sheared fleeces, and each of the different processes right through to the finished piece of art work.
Working with material ‘from field to studio’, Rosalind says ‘it connects me more deeply to my immediate environment and helps give my practice a sustainable approach’. Her designs are usually refined down to what might appear at first glance simple, but come from a deep process of observing, questioning and engaging in things that fascinate her – the natural world and certain manmade things such as Romanesque architecture. It is also her way of finding calm and meaning in this complex world – which she hopes is reflected in her beautiful and original pieces of work. Having only five alpacas, Rosalind’s collections are all limited editions and every piece is unique.
If you would like to know more, please visit her website www.rosalindstoddart.co.uk or visit her studio (and the alpacas) in September as part of Northants Open Studios.
After graduating from Camberwell School of Arts and crafts with a BA (Hons) in Painting, I gained a PGCE: AD and spent several years teaching. Next, I worked full time as an artist exhibiting both in the UK and abroad, and was selected for one of the 1000 residencies across the country awarded by The Arts Council England in 2000. From late 1998 I began to exhibit other artists’ work in my home. The organisation which I started, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, became a formal not-for-profit limited company in 2004 and a Charity in 2008 with myself as Artistic Director. I have a broad interest in the arts focused on the visual arts and education. At Fermynwoods we were particularly interested in engaging with the environment (both rural and urban) especially with our Forestry Commission partnership, as well as current agendas in our locality. This was achieved through exhibitions, education programmes, residencies and outreach community projects. After a fulfilling 11 years, I resigned from Fermynwoods and for a while worked independently. In 2011 I initiated and led the community arts charity, Deep Roots Tall Trees (DRTT) with jazz singer Barb Jungr, for the next seven years. DRTT led projects including a concert at Corby’s Football ground with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, OUR WOODS – a festival of over 40 events celebrating Corby’s wonderful urban woodlands through music, dance, light, the arts, history and woodland management. I have also been a Trustee of The Core in Corby and NAMT (Northamptonshire Theatres) and an observer on the Groundworks Northamptonshire board. I am a Trustee of MOTUS Dance theatre in Milton Keynes and regularly support dance, opera and visual arts events. I am also passionate about the environment, taking part in dance theatre, gardening and looking after all our animals.
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Further Direction Info
Located on the Benefield Road accessed from Brigstock village (not from A6116) or from Lower Benefield. In Brigstock find The Olde Three Cocks pub and take the road up the righthand side of it towards Lower Benefield. It is just over one mile out of Brigstock opposite Fermyn Woods Hall – the hall is on the left and our drive is opposite their second entrance (delivery entrance).