|Heather Richie (courtesy Darlington & Stockton Times)|
Monday 20th May
In my experience textile artists are very modest people and are often self-depreciating of their skills. None more so than Heather Richie who came to talk to us about her life in rag rugs. She claims not to be able to draw or paint and yet when you see one of her rugs they are alive with colour, shading and texture and made in a most painterly fashion.
Heather's love affair with rag rugs started out of necessity when a neighbour showed her how to make simple furnishings for her drafty cottage. She was, quite literally, hooked. Using her rugs as a medium she has captured memories of her life, her family, her friends and neighbours in both the pictures and the fabrics that she has used. In a wonderful rug devoted to her mother, pictured in her favourite place in the garden, she has incorporated pieces of her mother's tweed skirts and other treasured fragments of cloth.
Heather is a natural story-teller and we heard all about her loves, her friends and her family in cheerful anecdotes and finely made rugs. She is an inspirational teacher and has a huge fan base in North America. But it was her experience of supporting her father who lost his sight, that led her to found her charity Rug-Aid a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to helping blind people in Gambia support themselves by making rag-rugs to sell to tourists.
A hugely enjoyable talk and a great privilege to meet such a warm and caring lady!