Artist profile - Cefyn Burgess, Ruthin Craft Centre

Capel Mawr, Denbigh

Capel Mawr, Denbigh - Credit: Archant

Ruthin-based textile artist Cefyn Burgess finds inspiration everywhere, from old looms to the pampas of Patagonia, as Janet Reeder discovers

Cefyn Burgess

Cefyn Burgess - Credit: Archant

Cefyn Burgess has never been more in demand thanks to his rare skills and eye for beautiful design.

This month he is heading for Patagonia for a project he’s working on for the Welsh Art Institute. He has created beautiful new textiles for Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, is planning to launch a display of floral designs at Bodnant Gardens and he continues to design for his own collections, as well as work on many original commissions.

The textile artist, originally from Bethesda, creates stunning jacquard woven fabrics and quality interior products including Welsh tapestry blankets, quilts, throws and cushions. His clients have included large organisations as well as individuals who have commissioned bespoke designs all woven in natural fibres.

From his studio shop at Ruthin Craft Centre, Cefyn, aged 54. also stocks a new range of ceramics and vintage furniture that has been beautifully upholstered with his striking fabrics.

Cefyn Burgess furniture

Cefyn Burgess furniture - Credit: Archant

He says: ‘My designs are created to suit any setting from a castle to a room and respond to the client’s brief but also taking into account my own cultural background giving the designs a distinctive Welsh appeal but with a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional.

‘In recent years my range has developed and grown, the focus of my new collection of textiles relates to the use and combination of floral images and strong geometric pattern frequently seen in Pompeii and Ephesus which are woven in exciting vibrant colours.’

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A graduate of the Royal College of Art in London,Cefyn was the first ever weaver in residence at Paradise Silk Museum in Macclesfield, a role which not only allowed him to develop a range of handwoven silk fabrics but fuelled his passion for jacquard design.

‘When I left college jacquard had gone out of fashion, so I was a bit of an oddity as a person who studied jacquard and moving to Macclesfield was an opportunity for me to carry on working with hand looms ,’ he explains.

Cefyn Burgess textile design

Cefyn Burgess textile design - Credit: Archant

‘I later worked at Trefriw Woollen Mills for the Worshipful Company of Weavers restoring an old jacquard blanket loom on which they used to weave commemorative blankets in the 1890s, for people like the Prince of Wales things like that. The loom is now in the National Wool Museum and is part of the Patagonia project I am working on. The plan is to create new commemorative blankets for the anniversary.’

This month’s trip will be the second time he has visited Patagonia, a sparsely populated region at the southern tip of South America where a group of Welsh people settled more than 150 years ago. Incredibly, the Welsh language can still be heard in the country of prairies and pampas.

‘There are 16 chapels in Patagonia so I am illustrating those and recording them in embroidery at the moment. I will be working with the indigenous population to produce work that will be part of a big exhibition over here in September,’ he explains.

‘You can’t be agoraphobic there. You’re driving for hours across this vast outback where everything disappears to the vanishing point. It’s really quite weird, but it’s quite amazing when you eventually see these Welsh chapels in the middle of the prairies. They are quite moving places.

Cefyn has had an interest in Welsh chapels since boyhood and wanted to record them in stitch and drawn images before they disappeared from the landscape forever.

‘I also work on commissions. For example a couple wanted a picture of the church in Flintshire where they married, so I did that for their anniversary. The work is done in free motion embroidery - people think the work is computerised but it’s not, everything is done as if with a pencil.’

Cefyn is hoping that the display shop at Bodnant Gardens will be ready in time for the holidays and he will be working in collaboration with furniture maker Andy Lloyd on a range of modern Welsh furniture upholstered in his floral fabrics.

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