Holiday memories in textile...

MOST people bring back a collection of photographs from their holidays.

Gillian Travis is no exception – she has albums of fascinating images snapped on her many trips.

But the talented artist also has another, unique way of remembering her travels.

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From the hundreds of photographs she takes, she then returns home to Ripponden and her studio to create stunning pieces of textile work with fabric, paint and stitch.

Many of these captivating creations have now been collected in a debut book just published by the textile artist and teacher – Journeys In Stitch (Embroidering and Quilts Following my Jaunts.)

The book is a journey through Europe and beyond, a fascinating travelogue of not just photographs but of their detailed and innovative textile interpretations – from Gillian’s initial ideas, the first sketches at the drawing board and then the hours at the sewing machine spent embroidering.

The colour and character of places such as the Balkans, Morocco, Copenhagen, Romania, Belgium and Holland have all help to inspire Gillian’s vibrant textiles.

“Having backpacked round the world in my 20s, I still love to see the world with a rucksack on my back and am particularly happy when I can combine my interest in textiles with exciting travel,” says Gillian.

But she adds that marriage and bringing up three children put paid to her jaunts for a while – that was until her family had grown up.

“I have now found great travelling companions with my two elder two children (the youngest is not too keen.) We stay in hostels, dormitories and use local transport. I have spent many hours wandering around cities, finding little towns with their museums and craft workshops producing the most amazing work.”

Gillian adds that she always takes masses of photographs which she uses as teaching aids for the textile and embroidery classes she runs from her studio at Chapel Field Works.

“On my return, I sketch from photographs and carry out further research in museums before I begin my work.”

Gillian started teaching creative textiles in 1993, later becoming self-employed in 2006 as a result of cuts in further education. Her classes are always extremely popular but in and among the teaching she still finds time to produce her own work for which she has earned a growing reputation.

Last year, she added to her cache of awards by scooping first prize with the prestigious national Festival of Quilts. But it was joining the Contemporary Quilt Group Journal Quilt Challenge that encouraged her to make small, quickly-made pieces of work that have become reminders of her travels, she reveals.

A love of ethnic textiles and passion for travel have now been combined in the book which has been some time in the making, she says.

“I have often thought about putting a book together and over the years people have remarked that it’s something I should do. My students in particular have asked me why I haven’t produced one before now and so I have to thank them now for keeping on encouraging me.”

Gillian reveals that she was also inspired by friend Sue Hiscoe, who has produced a cookery book celebrating local traditions and customs. “She knocked on the studio door one day and we got talking about my book,” she says.

“She said to me, ‘you’ll have it ready for Christmas.’ Of course I didn’t believe her but once I started looking through the images and my designs and marrying them up together, I found I couldn’t think of anything else.”

Gillian’s talents are now recognised throughout Yorkshire and in Europe – mainly due to her exhibitions and competition successes.

In May she will be taking part in the Open Euro Quilt Championships in Eindhoven, Holland in the “Blues” section of the competition. Her piece is entitled Washday Blues. In the same month, she will have work on show at The Quilt Museum in York (from May 7 to August 29) and an exhibition based on the Journeys In Stitch book will open at Bankfield Museum, Halifax (May 28 to July 18.)

In August she will be taking part in the Festival of Quilts in Brighton.

Journeys in Stitch by Gillian Travis is available from her studio in Ripponden, from Fred Wade, Halifax, from Hebden Bridge bookshops and Harry Travis, Ripponden. For more information about Gillian, her work and her classes, visit