Iona MacKenzie Laycock is a contemporary textile/fabric artist who lives and works locally in East Clandon, Surrey. She is the latest artist to present her work in our Café Gallery space at The Lightbox. The exhibition focuses on the landscapes surrounding Iona’s family croft on the North Coast of Scotland.  

Iona has some impressive credentials, she completed a Foundation Course at Epsom School of Art and Design, has a degree in Textiles from Leeds University and was awarded a full scholarship for a postgraduate year from the Textile Institute at Huddersfield Polytechnic specialising in needle punched fabrics. Her research into new fabrics led to a nomination by Huddersfield Polytechnic for the Tomorrow's World Innovation Award.

We spoke to Iona to find out more about what inspires her and how she creates her beautiful pieces.

After University how did your career as an artist develop?

After graduating I worked in the textile industry, for a family-run textile business based in Yorkshire, and my ambition was to develop my own textile work. I have now been a full time textile artist for eight years.

When I started to create my own work I knew I wanted to use wool, the material I had always worked with. Landscape inspired my technique, the way it changes as the light moves over the hills creating deep shadows and streaks of sunlight. I use pearlescent paint because it takes on the qualities of light and it creates textures, dependent on how it is dried and the application of the paint. I multilayer the work, sometimes introducing new techniques such as machine and hand stitching or incorporating objects such as rock fragments.
I have had Solo exhibitions at the New Zealand Embassy, Guilford Cathedral and was invited to exhibit my work at The Lord Mayor's Wool Reception at Mansion House, London.

You say that the Scottish landscape around your family croft has inspired the works in the exhibition. What is it about Scotland that inspires you?

The north coast of Scotland is incredibly beautiful, the ancient mountainous landscape contrasting with sandy beaches and turquoise seas. The clarity of light seems to accentuate the colours and textures.

Tell us more about the techniques that you use to create your striking pieces.

I layer wool fibres and fabrics painted with pearlescent paint, using heat I apply or remove areas, ultimately trying to capture the quality of light on the land and sea. More recently I have introduced machine stitch and rock fragments into the work.

You live and work in East Clandon, what is your favourite thing about Surrey?

Living in East Clandon I am surrounded by beautiful countryside, every day I walk my dog BB along the same footpath next to a field full of sheep baaing away. In fact I have used their wool in past projects.

Iona MacKenzie Laycock’s work will be on display in the Café Gallery from 7 July – 16 August 2015, all works on show will be available to buy in the Shop. Support local galleries and artists with the #justacard campaign, find out more.

Image credits: Detail of Hidden Lochan © Iona MacKenzie Laycock; Scottish Landscape Study © Iona MacKenzie Laycock; Hidden Lochan © Iona MacKenzie Laycock