Artisan Articles: Claire Leggett

Hi, my name is Claire Leggett and I’m a local artist practioner and educator.

Back in September 2018 I began as Artist in Residence at Winterbourne House & Gardens ready to develop my painting and print work inspired by the grounds. Staff at Winterbourne have asked me to write a little bit about my work and processes for you.

Winterbourne is a large site with lots to offer in many places and ways. I soon realised it would take a lifetime to do it all but I was most often drawn to the Walled Garden area which changes so much through the seasons.

I work across lots of different disciplines so I’ve picked out a few of my completed pieces showing different ways of working but that are all inspired by Walled Garden.

The Walled Garden – painting

For my first painting as Artist in Residence I threw myself in lock, stock and barrel, channelling all my excitement into a huge painting. I used special access to gain a birds eye view from a roof point and drew and sketched out the first layers of paint whilst sitting in the glorious September sunshine. There is a magic to painting outside ‘en plein air’ – the way you perceive colours is different and the shadows change during the day.

I worked for many hours on site layering up watercolour washes, beginning with watery paint to build the structure of the painting and then adding stronger layers of pigment to build it up. The details were finished back in my studio with photos and sketches for reference.

The Walled Garden – embroidery

Alongside painting I also create Textile works of art. I love to use thread and embroidery stitches as an alternative to paint and pencil but still using them as media to draw with.

Margaret Nettlefold (one of the original home owners) was very fond of needlework herself and I was interested in an embroidered chair that she worked which is on display in the house.

I hand-printed a fabric with colour to suggest the garden and have a base to work on. What followed was 36 hours of drawing with thread to capture just a few of the many types of plants that grow in the Walled garden during the summer months.

Winterbourne had a beautiful old oak carved armchair and I stretched the embroidery over the seat cover to complete my homage to Margaret Nettlefold.

Printed textiles  – Winterbourne Hedgerow print

My training is as a surface pattern designer creating prints for fabrics, which I still do alongside my other work commitments. I knew I wanted to work some of my drawings into designs and print some fabric during my Residency.

This is one called Winterbourne Hedgerow and was directly inspired after an afternoon working in the garden. I had been quietly sketching in the Walled Garden when a mouse felt brave enough to leave one bed, cross the grass and dive into another just to my side.

That mouse made it into the print, as did the flowers and birds that I observed in the walled garden at the time.

It’s been printed up in many ways – by silkscreen, heat-press transfer printing and also digitally.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little taster of my work. If you’re interested to read more, I wrote about all my work on my blog:

And in lieu of an end of residency exhibition (which Covid cancelled) I filmed one which you can watch here:

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