Felicity Borwick

Through my art work I respond to and process the experiences of life.

Starting with research and exploration of an idea, experience or a personal, ecological or social issue about which I feel passionately, I follow a journey that ends with the finished piece.  

As I go, I choose techniques and materials that I think will suit what I am trying to say.

Recording my ideas and images with drawings, words and photographs in my sketchbooks, I chart the journey and clarify my thoughts.

Working by exploration, research, reflection and experimentation, I use a variety of techniques and materials and choose these according to how the work develops.  

 I use hand sewing and machine stitching.

Throughout my life I have felt a deep affinity with fabrics, textural surfaces and patterns but I also enjoy painting exploring the interaction of colour and texture.

To find out more about my work, visit my personal website
here and my Instagram page here.

Bridging the Gap

When I first began to think about my current body of work, I was in the throes of a big house move and once that was over, I began to look at the area that I had moved to. Despite being only about 10 miles south of where I had been living it is in a neighbouring county, not an area I knew very well, and it felt very different. 

So I began by looking at the characteristics of the area and things it is known for. One of these is Matthew Hopkins and The Manningtree Witches. The book of that name had been published earlier in that year year and I came across a website whilst internet researching called 'Snapping the Stiletto: Campaigning for Equality'. They were about to start a creative writing project to revisit the Manningtree Witches and to celebrate the lives of the poor, targeted women that had their lives taken away from them.
The name of Anne Leech resonated with me but there is very little known about her. She was a poor widow from Mistley, and the mother of another of the accused witches, Helen Clarke.
Anne was searched for ‘witches’ marks’, probably watched and interrogated. She was the first person to mention meetings of alleged witches’ at Elizabeth Clarke’s house.

Anne was found guilty of murdering Richard Edwards’ baby son John by witchcraft. She was executed in Chelmsford in July 1645. That was about all the factual information I had to go on but I do know that Anne Leech, alongside the other persecuted women, suffered inhuman hardship, appalling trauma, torture and abuse and showed remarkable strength.

In those times, any lonely old woman who kept a pet or used healing herbs, risked a terrible fate and partly through fear, villagers could often be relied upon to act as witnesses to evil goings on.In the Manningtree area, the names of the same group of “women searchers” regularly appeared on the original indictments. The witchfinder relied on discovering the witch-mark, a spot on the body insensible to pain and using the infamous swimming test which meant binding the suspects limbs together and lowering them into the village pond. The logic was simple, God’s pure water would reject a witch, causing her to float, while the innocence of those who sank and drowned would assure them of a place in heaven.

Ducking Stool

The torturing of witches to obtain their confession would be sleep deprivation, the use of tight restraints to induce cramps and starvation diets. The sentence of death when it came, was by hanging.

During my research I thought about life in the 1600’s and imagined how my life and Anne Leech’s may have some parallels and about the many differences between us. She would have trodden some of the ground that I tread and had somewhere she could call home near to mine. As I progressed with my own artwork research I went on a different line of enquiry, but I still think of Anne and how lucky I am in comparison.

I am now on the bridge connecting my last very old home and the completion of a new one.

My role has changed to being a custodian of a 16th century historical building to the creator of a present day/futuristic building.

Being in-between two homes I am absorbed in planning the next one. With my current work I am focussing on the land that will be the new home and its immediate environment, using resources and materials from the land itself as much as possible, to capture a sense of place.In the first stages of my self-build project I am investigating and getting to know the ground, acquainting myself with it before it is changed. In the process of collecting things I find on the plot, I am making a physical and emotional connection with the land, I’m feeling the seasons, experiencing the light as it changes and witnessing the contrasting sounds of the birds with the everyday man made noises.