Yorkshire & the Humber, United Kingdom
Leigh (pronounced ‘Lee’, she/her) is a Leeds based textile artist and educator. Her use of textiles is rooted within the emotional connections we have with cloth, utilising this connection as a vehicle for storytelling and activism.
Leigh specialises in free hand machine embroidery techniques within her work. Free hand, or free motion, machine embroidery is the method of using a sewing machine as a drawing tool. Each detailed illustration is made up of many layers of stitch to achieve a realistic quality, taking notice of light, shadow and fur direction. The sewing machine is controlled by hand, with each stitch placed with specificity.
In 2012, she started ‘The Blood Bag Project’, a craftivist project that aims to raise awareness of the rare blood condition Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which her young niece, Chloe, was born with. The condition that meant that her bone marrow could not produce new red blood cells, leaving her reliant on monthly blood transfusions for survival. The project asks participants to create textile blood bags – the process of creating allows them to reflect on the purpose and importance of blood donation. So far, over 1,000 participants have create blood bags all over the world, including Russia, Australia, USA, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The project has proved particularly successful amongst year 6 groups learning about the human body or circulatory system.
Leigh is currently working on the the development of a children’s picture book about the experience of a stem cell transplant from Chloe’s perspective. Through cute characters and embroidered illustrations, she aim’s to make the potentially scary topic easier to digest, a theme that runs throughout much of her person textile work.
As well as embroidery, Leigh has experience working with many forms of textiles including weave, printing and dying. Her work with Pyramid has allowed her to develop skills in mosaic making, puppetry and plushies, claymation and collage.