Through the eye of a needle

Corinne Young’s colourful home in the Yorkshire Wolds is testament to her creativity and love of textiles. Sharon Dale reports.

The home of artist Corinne Young, at Kilham near Driffield. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Corinne’s Young’s addiction to decorative detail has led to lavish praise for her textile art, and the compulsion to embellish isn’t confined to her work. Every room in her home has benefitted from her sewing and embroidery skills, and her love of fabric. A friend of Corinne calls it “a mini V&A”.

The sofa, a bargain £1 from an auction, is patched with remnants and old kilts. The curtains in her sitting room are vintage fabric trimmed with velvet and embroidered flowers, while the clock was made in collaboration with another artist, Gideon Johnson, and is part of an old violin decorated with papier mâché and stitched lace.

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“I love to embellish everything,” says Corinne, whose previous job as a decorator also came in handy when refurbishing her house in a pretty Wolds village, near Bridlington.

The home of artist Corinne Young, at Kilham near Driffield. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

She bought it in 2007 after leaving Harrogate for a new life in the country. She dreamed of buying a cottage, but most didn’t have the light and space she wanted, so she settled for a newer property. Its lack of period features and dated interior were compensated for by the large garden and fabulous views.

The kitchen was bare except for a sink, so she began by creating her own units from parts of an old wardrobe, a salvaged cupboard and a sideboard. “A friend helped me and we made that wardrobe go a long way. It only cost me £5 at auction because it was a bit broken,” says Corinne, who covered the various finishes with a coat of blue paint to create the perfect country kitchen.

The open plan sitting room/dining room, previously magnolia, is now a cosy, colourful space that doubles as a sewing room.

“It had a hideous fireplace with wings, so I knocked those off, which helped,” says Corinne, who created feature patchwork walls using squares of wallpaper that she covered in a darker glaze to produce an aged effect.

The home of artist Corinne Young, at Kilham near Driffield. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The old dining area is her workspace and houses her sewing machine. She also handcrafts a lot of her pieces, which include everything from fabric pot plants to decorated panels and embroidered butterflies with wire wings, which she pins into frames to imitate Victorian butterfly collections.

Her love of sewing and fabric began as a child and she was inspired by her mum, who was keen on craft, and her aunt, who was a gifted dressmaker and embroiderer. After bringing up her two children and a spell as a decorator, she followed her heart and did a textile degree at Bradford University.

“I was 40 but I’d been painting and sewing all my life and I’d done some print making, so all those skills really helped 
with the degree. I specialised in embroidery and had a fantastic tutor, Diane Bates, who really helped me too,” says Corinne.

Her talent was spotted immediately and she was commissioned to create wall hangings for Lord of the Rings shows in London and Canada.

The home of artist Corinne Young, at Kilham near Driffield. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Her latest exhibition is part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios event, which starts this weekend. She is exhibiting with fellow artist Shirley Vauvelle at Shirley’s home in Lebberston, near Scarborough.

“Textile art is being taken much more seriously, which is great. I prefer it to painting pictures because of the textures you can introduce,” says Corinne, who has a large collection of vintage fabrics and haberdashery.

She has used them to great effect in the house. The bedrooms feature patchwork quilts, home-made cushions and a Roman blind fashioned from a beautiful linen tablecloth.

Most of the lampshades have been recovered with vintage material and embellished with embroidered flowers, pompoms and braid.

The home of artist Corinne Young, at Kilham near Driffield. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The furniture is mainly from auctions and many of Corinne’s best buys, including an old campaign chest, came from Thompsons in the village of Killinghall, near Harrogate.

“I like things that have a past and everything I buy is used. I love old chairs and one of my favourite items is an old tea trolley by the sofa, which is perfect for holding the storage baskets I need for work.”

The walls are full of her own artwork, most of which is inspired by the natural world with a particular focus on plants. They feature heavily in her art, which is often stitched onto canvases of linen and silk paper, which she makes herself.

Her collections of old botanical books, vintage tins, beach finds and pottery are also evident.

“I love ceramics, especially if they have a 3D element. My work is similar in that the embellishments are designed to stand out,” says Corinne.

While she is busy with commissions and new pieces, she is also branching out as an interior designer and is in the process of turning a derelict coal store into a dedicated studio.

“It’s almost finished and then we can reclaim the sitting room,” she says, though even if I’m sat watching TV I’m usually sewing. I’m never happier than when I’m stitching away.”

• Corinne Young is one of the artists and makers taking part in the North Yorkshire Open Studios. Her textile art is at Lebberston Hall, near Scarborough. The open studios event runs over two weekends, June 7 and 8 and June 14 and 15, For more details on Corinne’s work visit