Meet the Maker - Grace Gatley

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Hello!  Today we meet the talented Grace Gatley.  Grace is a whizz with textiles and creates beautiful wall hangings, art and jewellery.  We naturally wanted to find out more....
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? 
Hello! My name is Grace Gatley and I make hand embroidered textile art, homewares and accessories. Quirky and cute little illustrations and quotes are recreated in fabric and stitch, and made into little pieces to adorn your favourite cardi, wall, or armchair! 

Apart from creating things what else do you do? 
I drink lots of tea... and spend as much time as possible with family and friends! My Christian faith is also hugely important part of my life, and I also love hula-hooping, and knitting, which I try to pretend isn’t a creative process, so it doesn’t feel so much like work when I’m doing it! I’m not very good, but I am getting better at following patterns rather than just knitting endless squares and rectangles! 
When did you notice you were an artist/maker? 
I’ve always loved making things. When I was little I spent so much time creating little fairy houses and clothes for the fairies my cousins and I believed, truly believed, lived at the bottom of our Grandma’s garden. Art was the thing I lived for at school, and I knew I wanted to make it my grown- up person job, somehow! It wasn’t really until completing my degree in Textile Design that I thought I actually could go it alone though, and mostly I still just feel like I’m playing! 
What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
A lot of my work involves hand embellishing. I try to spend mornings getting all my studio-based bits done, like machine stitching/printing, because then I can just take myself off in the afternoon. I can just pack a bag full of pieces to be embroidered, needles, thread and little snippy scissors, and go to a café, the park, even the sofa in my living room if it’s just one of those days, and spend the rest of the day stitching. I love that my work is portable, and that I can set up a little working space wherever the wind takes me. 
Where does your inspiration come from? 
Our culture of tea and coffee-drinking really fascinates me. That age-old belief that a lovely, hot cuppa can fix.... everything! Tea is such an inherently British thing, and such a personal one too- it’s amazing how just one drink can be made and favoured in so many different ways! Tea powers my days, so I suppose it was inevitable it would make its way into my actual work too! My faith is hugely important and central to my work, and is where a lot of my creativity and direction comes from. The Bible is an endless inspirational source. So many beautiful words and promises. I’m also inspired by lovely things that other people say. It can be anything, a lovely old phrase that I read in a book, things that friends say, or snippets of conversation that you hear when walking by people in the street or sitting at the next table to them in a café. It’ll spark an idea in my head or a little drawing in my sketch book, then I’ll recreate it in fabric and stitch. I try to carry my sketchbook around everywhere with me and I also try to remember to be observant! 
Describe your studio or workspace? 
A beautiful mess! It’s not as messy as it used to be though, I’ve recently moved house and now have a proper room of my own, rather than just a corner of my old living room! Things are much easier to keep track of now I have much more storage, and space to put things in! I try to be disciplined at putting things back in their homes as soon as I’ve used them, but sometimes mid-creative-flow, that just doesn’t happen, and I have to burrow a path to the door at the end of the day! It’s a lovely room though, with a huge window and a beautiful old school desk that holds my two hard-working Bernina sewing machines! Boxes of fabric everywhere... I’d love to work in a studio with other creatives one day though. It gets a bit lonely sometimes and as I live in a flat, I can’t even have a cat! 
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be? 
There’s so many! To name a few; Tilleke Schwarz, Manon Gignoux, Claire Coles, Marna Lunt, Abigail Brown, Alice Kettle... I’d love to just hide in the corner of any of these amazing artist’s studios for a day, and just watch the magic happen! 
How would you describe your creative process? 
It always starts with an idea, which I’ll try and scribble in a sketchbook as soon as possible. Then that evolves a bit, and I’ll start experimenting with fabric and stitch. Lots of tea involved! Sometimes it all flows really well, other times it’s more of a challenge. I’m working on some new textile collages at the minute that involve a really lovely layering process; preparing the fabric, adding machine stitched elements, a bit of printing and applique, then finally hand embellishments. It’s a bit different to the stuff I usually have on my work table, but a really exciting new direction that has refreshed my creative process completely. 
What handmade possession do you most cherish? 
I have a lovely hand knitted cardi that my mum made for me just before I went travelling. It’s been all over the world with me, and whenever I wear it those places always come back and fill my head. 

When do you do when you are stuck in a creative rut? 
Try not to panic! There are two types for me, one where I feel completely uninspired and a bit fed up. To combat that, I’ll just go and do something completely different. Have a wander somewhere, snuggle up and read a book, go to the park and do some hula-hooping (another love of mine!) It doesn’t usually take long to spark something new fizzling in my little creative teapot! The second is almost worse and the one I’ve been battling recently- too many ideas and things I want to make, and not enough hours in the day, resulting in nothing getting made at all! The best thing to do in that case is just start making. It will quickly become clear which ideas are going to work and which aren’t. Even if you lose a day or two in the process, that’s still time better spent than sitting and despairing with your head on the desk! 
Where would you like to be in ten years? 
Back in Cornwall where I studied and met my lovely hubby, or New Zealand! With a little family, and still making, but perhaps in a bigger studio somewhere beautiful! It’s never been my intention for this to get too big, but it would be nice to have a slightly more stable income, and maybe a small team! Or at least someone to take charge of all the admin that hurts my head, and someone to make the tea...

Thank you Grace, what a beautiful space you have.  We adore those cups of tea brooches! You can find Grace's creations in our Made in Britain shop.

Made In Britain
Quakers Friars 
Cabot Circus 
Bristol 

Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm 
Sun: 11am - 5pm

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