NATURE is the star of a new textile art exhibition coming to Allendale next month.

When artist Kate Slaughter was diagnosed with three life-altering conditions; vestibular paroxysmia, persistent postural perceptual dizziness and fibrous displaysia, life as she knew it would change forever.

Her diagnosis meant that she was forced to leave behind her beloved 10-year career as a textiles teacher, but Kate wasn’t going to let her illness take away the joy from her life. Instead she turned to art to help her through this challenging time.

“I’ve loved playing about with textiles ever since I was a girl,” Kate said. “And that passion has stayed with me all my life.

“I specialised in dress making at university, and I later opened up my own business in 2000 from home called Kates Kloths, which sold hand-dyed threads and fabrics.

“When the foot and mouth epidemic hit in 2001, my business was affected, but I managed to power through, and went on to open up my own craft store in Blyth.”

With a new space to call her own, Kate then turned to hosting evening workshops in experimental textiles and embroidery, where she taught budding artists how to create art with a variety of textures.

“I fell in love with teaching at that moment,” Kate said. “I went back to university and became qualified to teach, before I went on to work at a large school in Newcastle.

“When I had to leave due to the illness, it broke my heart. I suddenly had spare time on my hands which I wasn’t used to, and so that’s when I turned to creating art once again for myself.

“I feel as though I’ve done a full circle, because I started my career as an artist before going into teaching, and now I’m back here again.”

‘Pieces of my Life’ was Kate’s first exhibition post-diagnosis, which was held at Allendale Forge Gallery in February this year.

“The works on display were created by joining these very small pieces of material together to create something new and something beautiful. That felt reflective of my life, which I had to pick back up from around me, and stitch back together.”

Kate’s upcoming exhibition ‘A Walk Through the Woods’ is also inspired by her battle with her illnesses, only this time she pays homage to the therapeutic properties of nature.

“There is just something so calming about escaping to the woods, and being surrounded by wild flowers,” she said. “Those moments of solitude have been really important to me whilst I’ve been learning to manage my illness.”

Kate dyes or paints her mix of fabrics, yarn and threads to match the colours of the countryside. These various materials are then thread together either by hand or machine to created a rugged background, before she hand embroiders designs through a French knot stitch, her favourite for providing depth and definition to her work.

‘A Walk Through the Woods’ will run from September 2 to 30 at Allendale Forge Gallery.