She graduated in design from the prestigious Glasgow School of Art where she discovered a passion for machine embroidery, however her first job was for a firm in Kilmarnock, designing contract floor coverings (big carpets!) which she says she still gets a thrill from seeing on floors now and again - including at Tiffany's in New York(!) and airports all over the world. After four years, Sally left the company, finding that having to always work within someone's corporate requirements was too restrictive for her.
Making a huge change in her life, she contacted Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and they asked Sally to go and teach her skills to people in Africa. She taught initially in Zimbabwe and described to us how important education was to the students there, many of whom had to save for years to go to school and were there in their 20s, some of her students walking up to 18km a day for their lessons.
After a year Sally got tick bite fever (sounds fun!) and came home to recover. The political situation in Zimbabwe was too unstable for her to return there so she was redeployed to Ghana, where despite inherent corruption which often meant that funds were diverted for the benefit of individuals, she managed to gain funding for three classrooms for the school she where she was working.
She explained to us about the different cloths and dyeing techniques used in the different areas of Africa she had visited.
There was Kenti cloth, which was usually woven, although sometimes printed like this example, and which was worn as ceremonial clothing.
In Mali, women gather lake mud from different depths of the lake which gives different colouring and levels of resist. They paint the mud onto cloth and leave it in the sun to develop. This example has a different design on each side of the cloth.
On her way to Mali (a three day trip overland), the vehicle Sally was travelling in broke down. The driver went for help but by the time he returned, Sally was so thirsty that she drank some water he had brought without it being sterilised - this resulted in her being infected with worms which later had to be surgically removed leaving her with scars on her back and arms. (Now crossing Mali off list of places to visit...)
Another method commonly used in this area of Africa is indigo dyeing, a technique which Sally also likes to use. This involves either tying or stitching the fabric before immersing it in indigo dye.
You can see that smaller pieces of cloth have been stitched together before dyeing, to create larger pieces of fabric.
Sally kindly donated an indigo dyed cloth to our raffle which I am delighted to say I won! Thank you Sally!
On her return to the UK, Sally got a job teaching at a secondary school in Bradford, however the attitude of the students was so different from that of her African pupils, who had been so keen and willing to learn, that she became disheartened so left formal teaching an started out on her own. She has since taught arts and crafts for Age Concern, had a Gallery in Todmorden, and now has a studio space at Northlight Art Studio on Valley Road in Hebden Bridge.
Sally's own work features one-off pieces of fine textile art, using natural materials - cotton, wool, industrial felt and silk, including lots of silk cocoons.
Sally will be displaying pieces of her work at the forthcoming Open Studios in Hebden Bridge which takes place over the weekend of 3-5 July 2015.
Full details of artists and where they can be found are on the Hebden Bridge Open Studios website
Members also brought some of the work they had done at the Playday on the previous weekend, where Davina had been teaching how to make a patchwork quilted "Mug Rug".
As usual, they were all really varied.