Karen Lowe


I am a Shropshire based writer, painter and textile artist. Through the pandemic I have continued to study oil painting online with Martin Kinnear’s Norfolk Painting School, as well as painting in acrylics and creating pictures in fabric. Since completing my City & Guilds certificate in Patchwork & Quilting in 2019, I have been exploring free motion embroidery to create surface texture and pattern. I also incorporate some hand embroidery in my work for added texture and interest, as well as using acrylic paint. I take inspiration from folk and fairy tales, old buildings that have a story to tell, and from gardens and nature, as well as poetry.


My quilt ‘Gifford’ is based on a photo of the first narrowboat in the collection of the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, which opened in 1976. The quilt combines straight stitching, free machine embroidery, hand embroidery, applique shapes, and some acrylic painted fabric.


Canal folk art has been a fascination for me since narrowboat holidays in the late 70’s. On a visit to the Canals Museum at Stoke Bruerne, I fell in love with the tiny narrowboat cabins where every inch was painted with bright designs of traditional Roses and Castles and geometric patterns, or covered with hand-made textiles, from rag rugs to crochet lace pelmets and patchwork quilts. My quilt shows some of the traditional patterns and colours of roses and geometric shapes, as well as the distinctive sign-writing, and hand painted water jugs. The jugs are a traditional shape, as is the brass bound chimney stack.


Shropshire’s own canal heritage is belatedly being celebrated and conserved, and a major restoration of the Shrewsbury canal is being undertaken by the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust.


(Photo of ‘Gifford’ with kind permission of the Canal & River Trust Waterways Archive)


Textile Quilt



Karen Lowe



Arts Open