My background is in fine art painting and printmaking. In 2008 I took an A level textiles evening course at a nearby college. I enjoyed the freedom that working with fabric, dyes, printmaking and embroidery gave me. I’ve always loved using mixed media within my work and textiles offered me a way to really express myself. I was searching for a new way of working that would allow for my love of colour, texture and pattern, in a manner more versatile than a canvas or print would allow.
In 2011 I was asked by a charitable organisation to provide a workshop for adults with learning difficulties. I trawled the internet for ideas, knowing I would need to provide an activity that would be relatively easy, non messy and that would give immediate results. This is how I discovered needle felting. The ‘needle felted landscapes’ workshop I ran was a huge success and my fascination with wool and felting (both dry and wet) was sparked. Funnily enough my first sojourn into felting on my textiles course was a complete disaster! I think I even swore to myself I’d never touch felt ever again…. now I can’t live without it.
I’m very much drawn to traditional textile techniques, which is why I think felt appeals to me. In 2005 I travelled to Peru, where I learnt traditional Inca weaving using Pre-Columbian motifs and traditional methods of cochineal dyeing. I’m always inspired by my travels whether it’s ethnic textiles, ancient architecture or exotic flora and fauna. Everything is new! I’m also fascinated by anthropology and psychology. This particularly comes across in my recent nuno-felted collection inspired by Palaeolithic cave art. Stories and folktales capture my imagination. I’m an avid reader and love the escapism this provides. This is echoed in my work, which often has nuances of archetypal storylines and reoccurring symbolic motifs.
Gina Dunford established the small designer textiles business Chica Chimu in 2012.