Islington Mill is full of wonderful artists and Tara Collette is no exception.
For the past three years Collette has worked at the mill, creating large textile pieces.
“Creating large textile pieces stemmed from my time at university where I studied graphic design,” she said.
If there is one thing that describes her work it is bold.
“My banners often aim to deliver bold and provocative messages in the hope to address social and personal issues,” she said.
“More recently, I have been learning how to make stained glass suncatchers. I initially thought this was a lockdown hobby but it became much more than that quite quickly.”
She started creating stained glass in the November 2020 lockdown and until February 2021, was doing it exclusively in her kitchen.
“I was staying at my friend Rory’s flat for a week last year while he was away and I began watching Youtube videos on stained glass. Before then I had no idea on how two pieces of glass were even put together,” she said.
“I ordered some glass cutting tools and got some 50p photo frames with glass fronts from a charity shop to have a go at glass cutting with. Within a few months, I had a whole extra workbench in the studio just for glass making.”
Before stained glass, she was better known for also making banners.
She said: “I began making banners in 2017, which I guess is my main practice, although, at the moment from looking on my Instagram and shop you wouldn’t think so as it’s full of glass pieces.
“I hope to find a nice balance between the two, I think because the glass is new to me that’s what I’m doing the most of at this moment in time.”
Starting a new creative venture is something that many would not dare to do alone. However, Collette decided this was something she wanted to do solo.
“I’ve always worked alone. I like to be in full control of all the things I create, from screen-printed tote bags to stained glass suncatchers,” she said.
Working alone makes the process easier.
“I always found that having things out of my hands leads to things going wrong, such as printers not getting work back to me on time. I figured it’s easier to just do everything myself,” she said.
Creating her artwork is time-consuming and unpredictable.
She said: “It depends on what I’m making and how many times I’ve done it before. Some of my mini banners I can create within an hour and others like custom commissions can take three days.”
Having a vast selection of work in different media made her pause when asked what her favourite work was. She replied:
“Probably the Marlboro piece – this was the first one I experimented with using vinyl letters on the front which I love. I haven’t seen any other stained glass artists use vinyl over their glass so I like that as a selling point.
“As for my banners, I’d probably say the Cyanotype Wall Hanging. I like this piece as I had no outcome in mind for it, there was no goal apart from experimenting. I included such a huge range of techniques within this piece including cyanotype, image transfer and airbrushing which were three things I hadn’t had in my work before.”
Working at the Mill
Islington Mill is known for being a place where creativity thrives.
She said: “I love working at Islington Mill. Having the space to go to every day helps my productivity and mood too. I also love getting to go there and work alongside Rory every day, I think we both help each other well by bouncing ideas and opinions to and from each other.”
Working at the Mill has given her the opportunity to commit fully to her artwork.
She said: “My favourite part of my job is the freedom. Only in April, I quit my part-time jobs to pursue being a full-time glass and textiles artist and it has been such an incredible and freeing month so far.”
Check out Tara Collette’s work here.