Ahead of a series of wool art workshops for children at Wanstead Library, Guli Hamra explains how growing up in Kyrgyzstan provided her with an intrinsic connection to wool and how her creativity unravelled.
My name is Guli and I have been living in England for 17 years. I am originally from Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia. People in my country have traditionally been nomads and they have always used wool in their life.
I grew up where people make carpets from wool, as well as yurts, clothes and many different things which we still use in modern life. In my childhood, I used to help my mum, our neighbours and relatives to make carpets. So, I know how to work with wool!
I used to have lots of craft hobbies until I saw a picture made out of wool on the internet. I couldn’t believe it because it was just like a photograph. My first attempt at wool art was made from my scarf. I laugh at that now, but at that time, I was so proud of myself. And a big thank you to all my family who believed in me and gave me lots of support in my art from the beginning until now.
A year after I started making wool art, I was invited to Scotland by the writer Shahsanem Murrey, to show my work in her project about Scotland and Asian cultures and traditions. That was my first exhibition, which gave me more confidence. Nearly four years on, I am now painting with wool and I run classes for adults and children. My art and that of my students has been displayed in exhibitions in Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Kazakhstan, and at the moment, I am exhibiting a bit nearer to home in Romford.
Painting with wool is the process of creating art using non-traditional materials to mimic traditional painting and drawing techniques. With this style, instead of using paint and a brush, students use wool fibres to create the effects of layering colour, creating texture and depth. The process of creating artworks with wool helps people reduce stress and tension, find an inner balance and reveal their hidden talents.
Wool art is truly unique; layer by layer, we meticulously place multiple colours of wool fibres on fabric surfaces forming landscapes, floral scenes and portraits. The fibres are then compressed under a glass surface, imitating the appearance of watercolours, oils and charcoal drawings. Allow me to introduce painting with wool to your child and ignite the talents that resides within them.