Christine May Pettet

Christine is taking part in our coming Makers and Designers Market at Turner Contemporay on 4th and 5th December.

Describe what you do as a creative.

Using natural fibres I make hats and other wearable items which I hand dye. I aim for my pieces to be unique and playful. Art to wear!

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I live in Thanet with my family. After a life long dream of becoming a potter, I studied ceramics at the Kent Institute of Art and Design and then Stoke on Trent Polytechnic. I spent many years teaching ceramics and established a studio and workshop in Margate.
About 12 years ago I went to a demonstration of felt making followed by a workshop in a Margate gallery. I was instantly fascinated by the process using only soap, water and wool to produce an eco friendly textile. I am still constantly amazed by the versatility of this process. One day I could be making a durable rug and the next a hat or fine shawl using the same techniques and materials.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always dreamed of being a ceramic artist. I grew up in Manchester and spent a lot of my childhood in the galleries there.

What turns on your creativity?

Many things drive me to create a piece. It could be something as simple as seeing one or two colours together.
Recently, my work has been driven by celebrations and occasions. For example, ‘Earth Day’ (22nd April) inspired a series of hats based on photographs taken from the Apollo 8 space mission, when earth was captured for the first time from the Moon.
Photographs of family members was another source for a series of reimagined classic style hats.

What do you like best about your work?

I love it that my work leaves minimal carbon footprint and my materials are responsibly sourced. The items I design and make serve a purpose and function which I find very rewarding.
Also, after years of humping heavy clay around, wool and soap are a much lighter load!

When were you most satisfied in your work? 

I am only satisfied with my work when it has had approval from Joan, the lady who first introduced me to felting techniques and has been so generous in sharing her vast knowledge and skills. I am very proud that one of my hats has been selected to be in the Turner Contemporary Open Exhibition 2021, hopefully promoting the concept that an item of craft is indeed art.

Describe a memorable response to your work?

When wearing my pieces in public people find them very tactile and often ask to touch and handle the garments.

What is the most exciting part of your work at the moment?

The most exciting part of my work at the moment is my current experimentations with natural dye. For example items made incorporating a seaweed fibre (seacell) dyed with a seaweed dye has been a really smelly yet interesting process! I have enjoyed the unpredictability of using a natural dye and enjoy the muted colours!

What is your dream project?

To make hats for film and T.V!

Which artists / creative people are your heroes / inspiring figures?

I have always loved Henri Matisse for his sense of pattern and bold colour use. Also the work of Grayson Perry and its humour has often been a point of inspiration.
The pioneering Victorian botanist Anna Atkins with her ground breaking cyanotypes lead me to try out this technique on my textile.

Your idea of happiness.

Radio 6 music, a mug of tea and a day in my studio!

What art/creativity related book should everyone read?

‘Pantone – The 20th Century in Colour’ by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker is an essential colour reference for any creative!
I refer to it constantly when designing and putting a piece together.

Tell us a lesson life has taught you.

If in doubt, try it out!

Author: nathalieb