16 Stoddart Street

Newcastle upon Tyne


Daily 10am - 5pm


Artist Showcase: Donna Cheshire


This Month in our Artist Showcase we are featuring textile artist Donna Cheshire. Donna works across textiles with a painterly approach. By combining traditional textiles techniques with a painters process, Donna creates visually stunning landscapes which blur the line between painting and textiles. Donna's landscapes explore the beauty that lies in things exactly as they are.

Donna Cheshire needle felting

When all the Spring Flowers Come out at Once 4, £275

Where did you develop your textiles technique?

The effect that I create with textiles and thread often confuses people - on first glance they think that they are looking at a painting and only on closer inspection do they realise that they are looking at fabric and stitch. I can achieve this because I use hand dyed fabrics and threads. I use colours which are not flat but change in tone and hue across the surface. I trained in textile design and learnt to dye fabrics whilst at university. In early pieces of my work I used recycled print fabrics but soon realised that this wasn’t giving me the effect that I wanted. So I started to source vintage white cottons, lace and linens that I dye in colours that reflect the landscapes that I love.

Is there an artist who inspires you?

The twentieth century artist Joan Eardley has been a big influence on me, looking at her landscapes has encouraged me to draw directly in the landscape and to try to capture the colours and textures that I observe. I also love the work of the Post Impressionists and the Fauveists, with their bold colour palettes and dramatic brushstrokes.

How do you go from raw material to finished piece?

All of my work starts from walking and drawing. Once I have an idea about a composition, usually focusing on colour and mood, I think about how I am going to create the idea in fabric, this might lead to collage and paint work in my sketchbook. Then, I search through my store of hand dyed fabrics and gather together the colours and textures that I need, much as a painter would set out their paints.

I sketch out the composition on a plain cloth and then starting from the sky I work down and forwards through the composition building the scene with scraps of torn fabric. I use free motion embroidery to hold the pieces in place and to add more detail. I am currently experimenting with using thicker threads and with ways of applying thinned paint to the surface to increase the painterly feel in my work.


What are some of the local landscapes that inspire you?  

I consider myself so lucky to be in Newcastle with the beautiful Northumbrian coast and the hills so close by. I love walking and experiencing the landscapes around me and that's what inspires my work.

I go walking with my sketchbook and camera at least once a week. The walk from Craster past Dunstanburgh Castle is a favourite, I love the dramatic rock formations and the bright, fierce yellow gorse.

Climbing up to Simonside I see the huge views looking across to the Cheviot Hills and ever-changing skyscapes add drama to the scenery. I tend to shy away from the more popular scenes as I want to capture a sense of what it is like to be out on the windswept hills or near the sea, whether stormy or calm.

I love wildflowers too and see so many of them actually in and around the city and these feature in many of the pieces that I stitch. Red Campion and Bluebells have featured in recent work, whilst the startling yellow of Flag Iris looks beautiful against the turquoise of a sunlit sea. I actually spent quite a lot of time sketching the flowers on the cycle path right around the corner from the Biscuit Factory!

I also have strong links with Scotland too and sometimes my walks take place in St Abbs, Galloway and the Isle of Arran all of which inspire me with their bold colours and textures.



Petico Wick, St Abbs, £350

Phacelia Fields, £850

Summer Landscapes Textiles Workshop, £90

How has teaching art influenced your pratice?  

Working as an art teacher, initially with A level and Foundation students but along the way introducing primary school children, prisoners, patients, pensioners which taught me a lot about planning and developing work.

I really value my sketchbooks as places where I can try out ideas and compositions. I use sketchbooks to draw on location, to make notes, to write about the artists that inspire me and to store stitch samples.

When I’m running workshops it never fails to delight me that we can all start from the same source but end up with completely different results - underlining how creative outcomes are influenced by who we are, how we are feeling and what experience we bring to the session.

Try something new and sign up to her Summer Landscapes Textile Workshop; on the 16 July where you can learn how to paint with fabrics just like Donna.

We have a selection of Donna's textile pieces available in the gallery now or you can shop her workshops and collection below!

Buy 'Molecule Studs', silver stud earrings by Yen. Image shows two silver earrings with a lard silver sphere in the centre surrounded by silver posts with silver balls on either end. The background is white.

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