Eileen and her husband John have been coming past my door for years - her full of sauce and him looking like a prize fighter. Whenever I bump into her on the allotment I always pick her brains for tips on the children - she has brought 5 into the world. Her early life was tough - she was brought up in an orphanage but she became independent very young, cycling everywhere because she had no cash. Her favourite cycle ride is between London and Brighton - and that is where she met John - at the Lido in Brighton. Apart from her 5 children, she worked as a store detective and still has a grip of iron. She is a champion cactus grower and a stalwart of Spa Hill.
I hadn't seen John for a while and knew he wasn't well so when I got together with Eileen, I knew she had a lot on her mind. As well as making her a print, I thought I could help out a bit on her allotment. The storms had blown a lot of the glass off her green house. Her plot needed tidying up and there was some rhubarb she wanted to shift.
As we worked Eileen's colours, patterns and mood came into focus: I made her a sundial print - the pattern of the sun moving across the broken grass of her greenhouse and dyed her cloth with rhubarb.
I wanted to make her something protective as well as soft to the touch. An ancient rain jacket hung off the door of her greenhouse - inspiring me to make her a silky mac, quilted to keep her warm and cosy