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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Sarah Waterhouse

A calming image of waves on a bedside lampshade, an old chair rejuvenated with a bright geometric pattern, or a cushion covered in an umbrella print to offer comfort whilst hiding from the rain – there’s a whole range of uses that Sarah Waterhouse‘s lovely fabric designs can be put to around the home.

From her studio at Yorkshire Artspace's Persistance Works, Sarah has been turning out metre after metre of colourful and playful fabrics designs since setting up shop in 2007. One of her most popular fabrics at the moment is the Sheffieldish print, available as a limited edition tea towel, which features such familiar and charming snippets of Sheffield-speak as "Shut thigob" and "It dunt marrer".

Each piece of fabric is screen printed by hand and, mindful of her impact on the environment, Sarah uses only hemp or organic cotton, and organic inks. If you're keen to have a go for yourself, Sarah often runs screen printing workshops from her delightful studio. And you can take a peek at her workspace at the annual Open Studios weekend.

How would you describe your work?
I’m a fabric designer and screen printer specialising in sustainable hand printed fabrics for interiors and upholstery. I hand print all the fabrics by the metre using hemp and organic cotton base cloths and organic inks. My designs are bold, colourful, and created to work in harmony with the sustainable fabrics I use.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by so many different things, but my mostly I draw inspiration from patterns in nature. I’m also very influenced by early-twentieth century art and design. My two recent fabric collections are very different: Geometrics is inspired by geometric shapes and the architecture of the Art Deco period whilst my autumn/winter collection is based on the various textures and patterns found in nature.

What’s your workspace like?
My studio at Yorkshire Artspace is a lovely space with plenty of light, and is just big enough for my eight-metre printing table. I love working here as it’s such a fantastic, supportive environment to work in and is full of so many talented artists and craftspeople. I share the space with my silversmith husband and our pugs Lola and Ethel.

What do you love about Sheffield?
I love so many things about Sheffield as it’s such a great place to live and work – I was born here though so I’m probably a little biased. My favourite thing has to be all the parks and woodlands. I live five minutes from Graves Park, one of the loveliest parks in the city. It’s great being able to go for a walk through the woods and then have such a fantastic view of Sheffield from the top of the hill.

What would you do to improve the city?
I’d love to see specific bike routes all over the city to make it safer and easier for cycling.

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