April: Pauline Burbidge

Pauline Burbidge may be a renowned textile artist, designer and quiltmaker, but she is also local to us, and so we were particularly excited to have her come along and speak to us about her recent work.

Pauline has an extensive biography, which can be found on her own website, but today she wanted to concentrate on Creating and Making her wonderful work.


Pauline works on a large scale, her finished work usually measuring two metres square. She showed an example of the beautiful ‘Wheat and Barley Field’ quilt, explaining that she uses a mixture of machine stitching, using her long-arm Handi Quilter machine which allows her to ‘draw’ in a free-form way, and hand quilting in her work. She makes ‘Quiltscapes’ – wall hanging textile landscapes, as well as ‘Quiltline Pieces’ – practical, useable quilts.


Pauline shared photographs from which she draws her inspiration, including local places such as Holy Island, the Cheviot at various times of year, and the River Tweed from Chainbridge, with a house very familiar to one of our members in particular! Also nature all around – hostas, hedgerows, golden marjoram and snow-covered willow.

“I look at a ploughed field and think of stitching”

She is also inspired by fabric – plain white in various forms waiting to be drawn on.

Finished Work and the Making Process

Pauline showed us her work ‘Honesty Skyline’ and explained the making process:

  • She collected materials such as honesty, grasses and lavender
  • She made samples and pinned them to the wall
  • She would then select the best bits, overlap, stitch, make more samples and gradually form a more finished piece
  • The fabric is collaged together, silk and organza overlay cotton. Leaves and rubbings are brought together, building a piece of work
  • It is easy to put too many pieces together, so Pauline tries to simplify it before making the finished piece
  • Then she would quilt it. It hangs nicer on a wall when nice and thick. She uses hand and machine stitches to finish.

Pauline draws on some fabric using a Markal stick (which is like an oil stick), then stitches it. She also sometimes stitches then paints afterwards using a fluid acrylic paint to bring some of the stitching out. She also uses cyanotype printing using the sunlight to make images on fabric. This is done outside and the imagery can look quite free moving, as with the pieces of wheat, as it was done in the wind.

Presenting Work

Pauline showed how her work was displayed in recent exhibitions. She wanted to show the crumpled or folded texture of fabric, to demonstrate its usability. Her exhibition at the Ruthin Craft Centre in Wales was mounted this way, as well as being hung flat. In contrast, the exhibition at the Bowes Museum was more like a theatre setting. We also saw her work exhibited at the International Quilt Study Centre and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the City Arts Centre in Edinburgh, which had 13,500 visitors.

Open Studio

Every summer Pauline and her artist husband Charlie Poulsen hold an open studio event at their home workspace in Allanton. They always invite a guest artist, and this year they have textile artist Dorothy Caldwell visiting from Canada. This will be their 25th open studio, and is held from the 3rd – 6th August.

For more information about her work please visit www.paulineburbidge-quilts.com