Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Castle of dreams

When I was about 9 or 10, we went occasionally to my grandmother's house. This was in the era of motorbike and sidecar and then a very old Austin 7 car, so 30-mile journeys were not frequent. Not far from my childhood home stood a fairytale castle hidden in the woods, which you could catch a brief glimpse of, rising up out of its moat, from that car journey. We always waited with excitement to catch sight of the magical place for an instant before the woods swallowed it up. Winter was better, because there were fewer leaves on the trees. That castle (Leeds in Kent, UK) is now fully open to the public and easily seen from every angle. I go and stroll round the grounds when I visit my mother, and you can picnic in the park for free. It is stunning, but the magic of elusiveness has gone.

I found a piece of polyester with satin blocks, which absolutely conveyed castle walls to me. Bonded onto hand-dyes, it formed the centrepiece. Other hand-dyes and commercial cottons appliqued. The plaid for the doorway came from a fabric my mother used for some tablemats, and, as she has been in hospital for a month with a broken wrist, I wanted to include that - it also has a portcullis vibe, which seemed apt. Entry to the castle is by boat, obviously!

When I get home to my studio in September, my intention is to add some variation of value to the shrubs with paint or crayon. I have very limited supplies at my mother's house.


  1. I like the way you have been able to use the commercial fabrics.

  2. Well done! The perfect fairy tale castle. Great use of the fabrics.

  3. This really brings back childhood fantasies. And I love the windows.

  4. Great work with stitching and I particularly like the way you have treated the edges of this picture. You have produced well despite the limitations at your hand!

  5. Hi Julia,
    I can understand how a building lik ethis one would leave such an impression on you as a child.
    What a nice memory to capture.
    ... I'm off to google Leeds castle :)

  6. A castle fit for a princess, clever use of fabric. I do like the details of the tree branches and flowers. Please show us a picture once you have added more detail. I think it's gorgeous as it is. Can't wait to see where you take it next