International Visiting Artist Workshop – Maxine Sutton


The Contemporary Textile Studio is over-the-moon-excited to be hosting internationally acclaimed textile artist and designer Maxine Sutton for a 3 day public workshop in our studio.  Maxine will also be giving a public lecture at the Textile Museum of Canada while she is in Toronto.

We have a treat for our readers today:  Studio member Kerry Croghan chatted with Maxine about her inspirations, creative habits, studio + shop, and what to expect in her upcoming workshop.


CTS:  Can you tell us a bit about the concept behind your textile studio and craft shop Blackbird.  Describe the connection between the shop and your goals as an artist/designer?

MS:     I was encouraged to open the shop below my studio, (now called simply MAXINE SUTTON STUDIO+SHOP) by all the exciting regeneration and creative energy in the town of Margate where I am based. I wanted to create a real bricks and mortar space to showcase contemporary handmade work of my own and others. Because of the internet, real places and spaces are as important as ever. The retail landscape and our local communities are changing. How people spend their leisure time, what and how we consume, as well as attitudes towards craft and manufacturing, are all hopefully changing in a positive way.  A real space offers opportunities for communicating and expressing some of these thoughts.


CTS:  Are there any habits or rituals that you have for getting into a creative frame of mind?

MS:     I love rituals and habits and I don’t have enough of them, I want to cultivate more!  I’m always jumping around from one thing to another, physically and in my head! I’m a gatherer of too much information and I often find it hard to switch off or channel my ideas onto one area. When starting on new work I usually spend a day or two – reconnecting with ideas in a very simple way – often reassembling drawings and notebooks. Basic cutting and sticking.

CTS:  Name three things/places/people that inspire you.

MS:     I’m inspired by anything and everything. ie; abstract painting, figurative painting, animals and natural history, folklore, David Bowie, the sea, plants and gardens, films, houses, architecture, my family, handmade clothing, folk art and textiles, Kate Bush, choral music, Margate, Cornwall, New York, the V&A ……..and so on.


CTS:  Your website includes some lovely images from your sketchbook.  Describe the role your sketchbook has in your design process.

MS:     My sketchbooks are really important, I use sketch books as my main way of recording and collecting ideas, and I bring these to the worktable table when creating new artworks or designing for interior collections. In the past I have kept a fabric sketch book, which I make up with pieces of linen, blanket and canvas. Together with a needle and threads I use this to “doodle” and draw with stitches and little bits of applique like collage.


CTS:  In your opinion, what does it mean to be a textile designer today?

MS:     Textile consumption and sustainability are key issue for designers now. There is a lot of waste and still lots of exploitation in the textile industry which is surely impossible to ignore as a designer.  It’s hard to be completely ethical and properly ‘green’ in every decision one makes as a consumer because we are all so time poor, and it is confusing sometimes, but as designers and makers we definitely have a responsibility to think about the ‘stuff’ we put in the world.


CTS:  When and where do you feel most creatively energized and productive? What kind of environment do you find is conducive to your work?

MS:     mmm energy levels and productivity, honestly? I always feel I’m losing that battle. I always need more energy and want to be more productive, but trying to learn to accept there are only 24 hours in a day and I need to sleep for 8 of them at least.  Basically I’m with Chuck Close on this subject, you just have to show up and do the work, don’t wait for inspiration all the time, or the right frame of mind, moment or place. These days I find I just have to get on with it, inspiration and ideas develop through making and doing the work.

CTS:  What do you love about working with textiles or about your work in general?

MS:     I feel connected to textiles in a very fundamental way.  I have always drawn, and I love painting and working on paper. Also the immediacy of the screen print process is something I really enjoy, but textiles and working with fabric feels like a part of my identity. I grew up making things with fabric: clothes for dolls, clothes for myself, little stuffed animals, gonks, fabric pictures and collages, little beds, sofas and bedding for my trolls, presents for family, things for the house.  It’s just something I will always do.


CTS:  In general, what do you hope that our participants will take away from our workshop with you?

MS:     I hope we will discover new approaches to working with stitch and print and develop some ideas surrounding everyday objects, narrative and still life. Exchange ideas and perhaps germinate a few and create something we will want to keep.


International Visiting Artist Workshop – Maxine Sutton

Heart and Hearth: The Things of Life – recording the everyday with traditional textile techniques

Workshop Dates:  June 28-30, 10am-4pm

Cost: $330.00 + $50.00 materials fee

For more info or to register visit:

Don’t miss Maxine Sutton’s public lecture at the Textile Museum of Canada on Wednesday, June 26th at 6:30pm; tickets $10 at the door.


Please like & share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *