My work celebrates nature.

I am moved by the beauty of the natural landscape which I see on my hikes, canoe trips or skis in the backwoods.. I am fascinated by the colours and textures on weathered walls and rocks. My work often features designs which have been abstracted from the colours, shapes and textures seen on such things as decaying walls, peeling paints, and rusted machinery.

As a child I weekly went with my parents hiking on the Derbyshire Moors close to my Sheffield, UK, home. My father’s love and respect for the natural environment was passed on to me. He fed my childhood curiosity with information about the birds, trees and plants which inhabited wild places.

Growing up in a large city fostered an interest in the arts. At teacher’s college I specialized in both Textiles and Biology.

My husband and I immigrated to Sudbury, Ontario which is where I began my teaching career, in a primary school. When my daughters were born I ceased school teaching and began to develop my textile work.

When the family returned to England a few years later I returned to school to study City and Guilds Textiles and Embroidery. Those four years of part time attendance and full time commitment to assigned projects were a wonderful eye opener to me. Drawing and design studies helped with my creativity. Becoming familiar with textiles from all parts of the world made me realise how much there is to learn about other cultures and their use of colour and stitch. I became much more knowledgably on the history of textiles. I was fortunate enough to live close enough to London so that I could go for day trips to explore and learn. My favourite haunts were the galleries and museums particularly the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Textile Auctions at Phillips. At the latter, on preview days, I could carefully examine beautiful antique textiles prior to being auctioned.

In 1987 the family returned to Ontario to take up residence in Kingston where I lived for 20 years.

I now divide my time between teaching adults and making my art work. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach in Canada as well as the UK and USA..

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As a textile artist I like to explore different ways to express my vision. My work usually combines free motion machine embroidery* with dyed and painted fabrics.

My realistic pictures using nature as my muse are framed and sold through galleries. Inspiration for some of these works comes from my hikes in favourite parks, Frontenac, Charleston and Algonquin in Ontario and Banff National.

I also like to work on other more abstract textile pieces and collages designed to be hung as art quilts rather than constrained with a frame. In these I use all kinds of visual imagery to express my thoughts.

I love to garden, I lose count of the hours when I am outside tending flower beds. Wetlands with their myriad of plants and animals are some of my favourite places. Watching birds and amphibians bring me great pleasure. I work at my sewing machine with my binoculars at my side feeling fortunate that I can work at what I love to do.

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*Before starting to work on free motion machine embroidery, the feed dogs on the sewing machine are lowered and the foot is removed so that the fabric can no longer be moved by the machine. I stretch the background fabric in an embroider hoop, which enables the work to move in any direction. The intensely coloured renderings of nature are created by using a large palette of threads. These are constantly being changed both through the needle and the bobbin. I also frequently manipulate the stitch tension in order to make loopy, textured stitches. Most of my work is stitched on my user friendly 30 year old sewing machine [not computerised]. Free motion machine embroidery can be compared to drawing where a pencil is held in one position while the paper is moved.

Free motion machine embroidery is not a new technique. In the 1920’s women in Singer workshops in the USA and UK embellished ecclesiastical hangings and very precisely made motifs for clothing.

I have met a lady who as very young women worked in a department store in London, England. Her job was to free motion stitch monograms drawn on linens for the wealthy store patrons.

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Sylvia Naylor
The Artist
AlgonquinVideo2011

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Algonquin Art Centre

July 2011

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