No sooner was my last blog written than I was off to the hospital for an xray on that pesky knee.

I was told (wrongly as it transpired) that there might be a fracture at the top of my tibia and I was to hop along to A&E immediately for a splint, crutches and an appointment with the bone doctor. What a palava! Some hours later, I came away with a velcro-fixed splint, which fell off on the way to the bus stop. Not surprisingly that stop was populated by other walking wounded – they didn’t raise an eyebrow as I removed the flipping slipping thing and put it in my backpack! The crutches were another nuisance I dispensed with!


The next day, more waiting, the bone doctor reviewed the xray and, deciding my pain was due to wear and tear and some measure of arthritis, more or less told me to go away and get on with things! I swapped the hideous crutches for an interim wooden walking stick. Well, slowly the pain subsided and rather magically I’m back to normal thank goodness; I did not enjoy the experience at all. But the enforced curtailment of my activities did give me the opportunity to think about things – the future in particular – not a subject I’ve spent much time on as I’ve progressed largely on the everyday ‘do the next thing on the list’ principle. What will come of all this thinking?

I’ve thought about the past too – one particular day ten years ago – the 7th of July. It happened that I was in the Pakistani Embassy that morning applying for a visa: we were working for a US bedding company, they were printing the yardage in Karachi and I was invited to attend. After some hours of form-filling and queuing the visa was granted. I emerged into the square. Silence. I walked to the bus stop. Nothing. I phoned the studio. No coverage. I was puzzled to say the least. I walked down to Sloane Square and into the customer collections office of Peter Jones where I knew there was a telly. There, among dazed, confused and frightened shoppers I saw what had happened. Terrifpotato bird printying. I sat for a while, I can’t remember whether the store was then emptied, but I found myself walking back the few miles to the studio in SW8. There was no public transport, and no taxis that I could see. It started to rain, I started to thumb for a lift. Of course nobody wanted to stop, but at last a little van did and in I got.

tin birdsMany people asked whether it was wise for me still to go to Karachi; my feeling was that at that very moment the security would be at its greatest and that I would be safe. And I was – armed guards at every door and on every floor of the (Pakistani) hotel, huge concrete barriers, warnings from my ever-courteous host never to walk out alone. Constantly chaperoned, I did my work, visited museums and markets, was welcomed into people’s homes. The experience remains vivid.

2714081_48b125c5Our studio was nearby the station in Stockwell. A few weeks later that same eerie silence befell again with the fatal shooting in the underground there. Only the sirens sounded as the roads around us were closed; we were not allowed into the streets, we were not informed of the circumstances, armed police were everywhere.

The bombs of the 7th were detonated the day after the announcement that London had won the 2012 Olympic bid. Our busy little work-neighbouring Portuguese cafe was a place of loud celebration on the 6th. Twenty four hours later it was a place of sadness, outrage and fear; the normally noisy TVs were silenced as we reflected on the shocking and terrible shattering events.


The FTM‘s new exhibition ‘Liberty in Fashion’ is opening at the end of October and I’ve been invited to make a contribution, the details of which are still to be discussed.

liberty artworkWith that in mind I’ve been looking at some of our very sweet old home-made garments; one of the joys and strengths of Liberty is exactly that – they sell fabric for dress-making.liberty painting And for many people their Liberty dress would often be made for a special occasion. At the time of our exhibition at The National Theatre in 2011 I met many visitors who had sewn with our prints. I’d love to see photographs of any hand-made or shop-bought clothes using our prints if anyone has them…. perhaps you could send them via Twitter or Facebook?


It’s been Fashion Arts Week at The Norwood School and the whole population joins in. I had the fun of running three workshops about pattern repeats with years 7,8 and 9 maths groups. I think we’d printed about 30 metres of paper by the end of the day! I managed to tag along on a school visit to the McQueen exhibition at the V&A. Though I personally find the head-masks suffocating and repellant there is no denying the skill and beauty of his designs. The quality and use of fabrics is second-to-none; it’s exciting to see such excellence, and to be shown the realisation of his wild imaginings teamed with his meticulous manufacture.

I was explaining the old proverb ‘There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip’ to a French friend the other day; we were talking of the exhibition coming soon at the Marsden Woo Gallery – ‘Many a Slip’. The premise is the domestic symbol of the cup, and quite a collection of artists and guests have been invited to juggle with this idea, myself included. It runs from the 22nd July to the 5th September.


I haven’t seen the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at Tate Britain yet; David Garland was commissioned to make four pieces to sit alongside, for sale in the shop. Here’s a beautiful video of him at work, filmed by his son Jack.

We’ve had some lovely press coverage lately – details are over on the website hereand a very generous blog on Modflowers here. To celebrate this we’re running a special summer offer on the dolls and cushions in our shop. Until the end of this month, if you enter the code JULY when you check out you’ll get a 20% discount. By the way, we sometimes get asked whether we can supply non-feather fillings for the cushions – we can. Just put in your special request in the box provided.

boy on cushions

I’m told there are a couple of places left on the Bradness Gallery course in October – you can find details here. I’m looking forward to visiting next week and enjoying Emma’s fabulous garden – it’ll be the main source of our inspiration on the late summer courses.

flowers in the garden

thanks to Molly,and Steve


16 thoughts on “reflections

  1. What brilliance, courage and energy combined with inspiration. BUT don’t forget SOMETIME to fit in Leamington Spa, and take a day off with David Reeson? Love Dave and Hazy xxxx

  2. I was at the Collier Campbell retrospective 2011 exhibition and I am sure I still have the photos… It was a joyous sumptuous day of colour and a perfect tribute. Your blog, which bought back many memories, was very thought provoking as I was In my office on 7th July just at the end of the road when the blasts went off. I always think of those who suffered.

    I hope you enjoy your workshop at West Dean next year.
    Best regards, Jillian

  3. Glad to hear your knee miraculously just got better Sarah. What a relief!! I wonder if your ruminations on the future had you thinking about taking on less projects? You always seem so incredibly busy. More time to stand and stare? If not, it means we can continue to enjoy your eclectic musings in this blog. x

  4. Love your little sketches so simple but so good! Especially I like the one of people at the bus stop! Glad you are feeling better! Thank you for your article and such brilliant illustrations!

  5. Dear Sarah I always look forward to your blog where you cover so much information. Love your sketches that illustrate your words so well. I am so sad that I missed signing up for your class in September, as I will be in the U.K. at that time. Will you ever come to Los Angeles and teach a class like the one at Bradness Gallery?
    Much love and creativity,
    A long time fan,
    MaryJane Mitchell

    • Thank you MaryJane – I’d love to teach a class in LA if such an opportunity came my way! I’m also teaching a course at Morley College on the 19th and 26th September – Drawing and Painting for Textiles….

  6. Just one of the best updates ever – thank you so much a great read. Hope your knee sorts out x

    Sent from my iPhone


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