Molly Williams

Website: www.mollywilliams.co.uk

I am a professional textile artist and designer craftsman specialising in Ottoman style kaftans, jackets and decorative throws and wall hangings and recently Giclee prints. I run my business from my studio in my garden.

I was very fortunate to spend my childhood in Africa and Turkey and my passion for Turkish and Ottoman design began when my father was posted to Istanbul for several years and I can clearly remember walking through the Topkapi Palace and marvelling at its amazing opulence and colourful treasures and the regret I felt that we could not go into the Harem as it was closed for renovation!

My mother was an excellent tailor and she encouraged me to sew – I was given my first child’s sewing machine at the age of five and haven’t stopped sewing and making since then. Returning to England in my early teens required a lot of personal adjustment – life here was completely foreign. At school ‘Art’ was traditionally taught and my work was never highly rated, nor was I encouraged, so stitching became a hobby. On leaving school I went into nursing and, once I had qualified, I spent seven years travelling and working in USA, Hong Kong, Australia and the Middle East. Cultural textiles and ceramics have always attracted me – they are usually very colourful, echoing the culture and environment and have a spontaneous quality; their patterns are full of memory and metaphor and link us to a mutual past.

Eleven years ago, once my children had all settled in school, I had the opportunity to study when a friend persuaded me to join her sixth form Textile D/T  ‘A’ Level class and I fell in love with learning and product development. My family was still very young and my only recourse to further study was with Opus School of Textile Art – a distance learning school. The Embroidered Textiles degree revolutionised the direction of my art work.

Bespoke design

My experience with surface pattern design actually started with a piece of art I made for exhibition at the Williams Morris Gallery 2012 as part of the Designer Craftsmen “Everyday encounters’ 2012.

Developing a pattern begins with research into a particular culture and/or textile and from doodling within a framework of lines or shapes my design emerges. I enjoy this rather random, uncontrived approach and with digital printing designs can be printed onto a range of contrasting materials.

Ottoman research and design

I am currently researching Ottoman textiles and ceramic design for kaftans and patterns for digital printing and investigating the symbolism and stories in the motifs and patterns. Delving into cultural textiles and pattern links me with past craftsmen and artists – I like that feeling of membership.

Publications and interviews