5. A Life in the day of a Master... textile artist


Bridget Bernadette Karn runs textiles courses at Acaster Malbis near York. She teaches people to explore the various techniques and potential of working with felt to make such items as scarves, flowers, clutch bags and pictures.

Bridget runs workshops throughout the year and inspires small groups to enjoy their creative ideas in a friendly supportive environment. Some of Bridget's exceptional work can be seen in the Blossom St. Gallery in York. Bridget's work was on show at Ripley Castle near Harrogate for their November Exhibition. Her beautiful series called 'Heartland' includes the very evocative 'Errigal from Mullaghderg Strand' and 'All Among The Blooming Heather'. 

What are you working on at present?

I'm busy with the fourth piece of my 'Heartland' series. My father died in September and this series of work is inspired by my familys home in Donegal, Ireland. I have so many happy memories of annual holidays spent in Donegal.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I'm inspired by natural things and the emotional ties I have with special places. A lot of my work is opportunistic, like the moment when the sun hits the water as you drive by a lake. I was sat outside a favourite pub once with my son and there was a cockerel patriarch strutting around with his hens and luckily I captured it on my camera.

Will you listen to music today?

No, I tend to work in silence and get in the zone. I'm part of an inspirational group of women in business and I sometimes like to listen to their podcasts as I work.

Have you ever recognised exceptional talent in a student?

Oh Yes! I've taught so many talented people over the years. Many who were strongly encouraged while in education to pursue ‘sensible’ career choices rather than ‘Artistic’.

One lady of about 70 started at my craft club while I was running a felting workshop and within a week was creating lots of beautiful pictures and was totally captured by it. Another woman, an optician, is making amazing felt pictures and she has such an energy and affinity with the craft which shows beautifully in her work.

What do you enjoy about teaching craft?

I started an art and craft group in our village back in 2007. It was to encourage people to get together and share their skills and knowledge. Because I had studied ceramics at Carmarthen in South Wales I was asked to teach.

Although nervous at first, my passion for the subject came through and it was such a buzz to see people being inspired to be creative. It's this that encouraged me when I went into business to teach Arts & Crafts as well as make my own Artworks. Some people say they are not 'arty' and don't consider themselves to be creative. I love encouraging people to embrace their creativity, so they're not held back by their fears of failure. I say it's important to be prepared to make mistakes in order to be creative, sometimes things don't work out, but most of the time they are successful, I want to encourage people to try.

Prior to college I had worked in the Bank of Ireland and then trained as a nurse. I was encouraged to focus on what would help me in my nursing career and to think about financial security. It took a lot of courage to go to art college, but it was what I really wanted. I'd hoped to link my passion for art & craft with nursing perhaps in art therapy and had travelled to Canada preparing to continue my education there, exploring this idea. However, my mother's illness brought me back to live in Leeds, where I met my husband which of course changed my plans and my life.

What do you do to relax at the end of the day?

My afternoon session stops at 4 o,clock when my two children come home. Later in the evening I'll catch up on emails. I try to meditate to relax and I love a hot bath. I keep ajournal every day so I can keep a note of the ideas buzzing in my head. That also helps me to empty my head of all those buzzing ideas!

What's important for craft students to learn?

Just be free and be prepared to make mistakes.

How would you like to be remembered?

For my own work of course but also as someone who was passionate about helping other people to be creative and find their own talents.



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