Working from her stunning studio in Scarborough, Lindsey Tyson was well known for her sophisticated approach to working with felt though has more recently focused solely on painting. Taking inspiration from across Yorkshire, she is drawn to wild weather, big skies and nature. She is driven by process and experimentation to paint predominately abstract compositions using bold and expressive marks that allude to landscapes and seascapes.
Court Spencer went to her studio to see what she’s working on.
Court: So nice to see you. Your studio is fab! How long have you been here? And how often do you get into the studio?
Lindsey: So nice to meet you too Court. It is exciting for me as it is the first time I’ve had a curator come to my studio to look at my paintings!
I feel very fortunate to have this beautiful studio in this historic building with its lovely views of trees across the valley and only a five-minute walk to the sea. I have been here twelve years or more! I don’t know where the time goes! You can find me here most days, morning till night. I practically live here! Ask my husband!
Court: So are you originally from Scarborough?
Lindsey: I was actually born in a small village in East Yorkshire but moved to Scarborough at the age of two. When I finished my education, I couldn’t wait to get away and see a bit of the world. I’ve lived and worked in Somerset, London, America, Australia, Derby, Burnley and finally back home to Scarbados.
In my last ‘proper job’ I was working in Belgium for seven years but I actually lived at home and travelled over each week.
Court: What’s the local art scene like in Scarborough?
Lindsey: Scarborough has a huge number of talented artists and having amazing places like The Old Parcels Office is really helping put it on the map. North Yorkshire Open Studios is also very popular and brings lots of visitors. It is a great artistic community that’s growing all the time. Scarborough is such an inspirational place to live.
Court: I think I read that you were initially a weave designer. Did you study art? How did you get into that industry?
Lindsey: Having painted and created all my life (and discouraged from a career in art when at school). When I was 27, I decided to go to back to college to learn to ‘paint properly’. I went to York College of Art & Technology to do an art foundation, which I absolutely loved! On a foundation, after trying all the variations, you have to specialise in one area. I liked doing so many things that I found it hard to choose but decided I was a textile person. I had always sewn and made my own clothes, and always loved fabrics, so it seemed a natural choice.
I had no intention of doing a degree when I started, but it was the natural progression, so I moved on to study a BA Honours degree in textile design at Derby University. Again, you had to specialise, and I specialised in weaving. They had great facilities and I became quite a specialist in Jacquard weaving. After leaving Uni, I was lucky to get a job straight away designing fabric for cars. It took me all over the world and was a great job. I worked in the industry for ten years or more, finally working in Belgium.
Court: That’s fantastic. So you’ve always been drawn to textiles. How did you move from weave design through to working with felt?
Lindsey: A couple of years after having my son, I decided to leave my job in Belgium, as with all the travelling, it was getting difficult to have a good life/work balance. My husband John did a lot of the Mr. Mum stuff, for which I am very grateful for.
I already had a large studio in town, so I initially started holding weekly art and textile classes to bring in some income. During this time, I went to a local evening class to learn how to make felt. This was life changing! I had found my ‘thing’. So, I put all my effort into learning and practicing my felting skills. It is so versatile, you can make so many different things with it, including 3D objects. The scope is endless.
In 2010, I obtained an Arts Council Grant to develop my work. During this development time, I worked out a way of printing clear graphic images onto felt, which no-one had really done before, and it became my signature. Once I had perfected this, I started selling my products via high end craft galleries around the country.
Court: And then was it a gradual transition to move your practice from felt to painting?
Lindsey: No! Not really. After felting for almost fifteen years, I was ready for a change, and ‘felt’ I had taken my products as far as I could. But it wasn’t until Brexit, and subsequently, my wholesaler ‘retiring’, because of the difficulties in sourcing materials, and I could no longer obtain the materials at a wholesale price, making my products unfeasible. This was the catalyst.
I had been attending a bimonthly art group for a couple of years, and remember thinking, would I want to do this full time, and initially had thought not. However, just before Covid, I started a three-month online art course. Because of the pandemic, I had plenty of time to focus on it and do lots of work and exploration, and I found that I really enjoyed the process. It was focused on finding your own unique voice, which helped me enormously.
All my life I have created artwork but, it wasn’t my main focus and I never really saw myself as a ‘proper artist’. This gave me the confidence I needed, and I was away! I informed all my stockist that I was going to stop supplying felt. I spent the next year using up materials and fulfilling orders and that was that! Thankfully some of my stockists now stock my paintings!
Court: That’s quite an inspirational and courageous move to go from feeling very established in one field and moving to an area where you perhaps feel like you are emerging all over again. Are there things that you’ve learnt from your work with felt that you can bring to painting?
Lindsey: It is like starting a whole new career! And a little bit scary. I think it could be harder for me to earn a living form my painting. Being self-employed for so long helps though, as I am used to money coming in at irregular intervals.
Meeting deadlines is also something that I pride myself on, so I am pretty good at delivering things when I say I will. Acting professionally is very important to me, so I will pull out all the stops to make it happen.
The main difference between art and producing products, is that you are primarily painting for yourself, and can choose exactly what you want to paint. When creating products, you produce items to order, and are aiming it at the customer.
It has taken me quite a while to get used to that, but I am enjoying the freedom it brings – it has given me a quite a new perspective on life. I have really had to work on believing in my work, and deciding that if I like it, it is enough. I try not to be too influenced by other people’s reactions – as some people will like it and others won’t! You will never please everyone.
Court: Well I’ve got to say, you’ve been an absolute dream to work with for the upcoming show at The Harrogate Club. Not only do I really like you and your work, but you’ve been so organised and efficient getting info through.
Lindsey: Aw, thanks you, that makes me very happy, and I felt the same about you. Giving a good service and being professional is very important to me. I tend to answer emails etc straight away because at my age, one is prone to forget things!
Court: Haha, that’s a wise approach I should probably take on myself! Your work feels like it has a real sense of your surrounding landscape. Is that something that you’ve always been drawn to? And are there any other influences like other artists, styles, periods of history etc that consciously play into your work?
Lindsey: Having grown up in the countryside, I am most definitely drawn to the landscape and sea, but it is the atmosphere, shapes, shadows, patterns and textures that thrill me, rather than a whole vista. I love to paint the energy of wild weather and stormy seas, and much of my work is quite dark and dramatic! Mark making plays a huge role in my work, and the mixing of different media.
In terms of influence, I have always worked pretty much in isolation, and have tried to create unique work that comes from the heart. You can never get away from influence completely though, and I do like to visit exhibitions, but it has never been a conscious part of my work. Subliminal maybe. Currently I am endeavouring to learn more about art history and the part it plays.
Court: You’re part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios. How long have you been showing as part of that? And what other exhibitions have you got coming up?
Lindsey: I have been showing with NYOS for at least ten years and it’s always a great event. I’m currently showing my landscapes at Gallery 49 in Bridlington. In March I’m the featured artist at Hawksby’s in Haworth (one of my long-standing clients), I also have work in a moorland based exhibition at the Tinker Gallery in Ilkley and I’m in the show you’re curating at The Harrogate Club. I have entered several open exhibitions, so am waiting to hear if I have been successful.
To be honest, I feel like I am just starting out, and am not that well known in the art world, so I’m focusing on building my reputation, and hoping to get more exhibitions in the future. This is the year I unleash myself!
Court: Do you have a dream project or something you would love to make happen?
Lindsey: My dream is to be represented by a well-known gallery in London, Edinburgh and/or New York! Though it is still early days and I have a long way to go. Ultimately, I would like my painting to be recognised for its quality and innovation.
Court: What’s the best way for people to keep in touch with you and see more of your work?
Lindsey: I have a website where you can see a range of my paintings and can sign up for my (not so regular) newsletter which lets you know what I am up to and where. I also post regularly on Instagram and you can also visit me at my studio by appointment.
Court: Thank you so much, it’s been an absolute pleasure and thanks for letting me snoop through your beautiful studio!
Lindsey: Thank you, the pleasure was all mine!