Hi, I’m Wendy Roby, an artist and maker based in Stockport. Roby Workshop is my studio. Here, I work on print and textile artworks informed by modernism, teach workshops and make products from reclaimed materials. I am by nature a resourceful and determined person, so the challenge of making simple, beautiful art and products using inauspicious materials brings me no small amount of joy.
I also make my own pigments and inks from things like copper, or using natural, botanical or plant-based sources like oak apples, avocados and blackberries.
I teach workshops at my studio in Stockport (latest classes on Eventbrite here) as well as across Manchester for social enterprises and arts charities. Classes include contemporary printmaking, screen printing, modern embroidery, plant-based inks and crafts like leatherwork. I’ve delivered CPD training to creative organisations as well as teaching adults and teens for social enterprises and further education providers.
Although I have made clothes and art all my life I know it takes confidence to call yourself an artist, so I plan my workshops with less confident makers in mind. I’m particularly interested in materials which are accessible to ordinary people and techniques that dodge our inner critic and allow for happy, creative accidents. I have a CTLLS teaching qualification and pride myself on coming up with innovative ideas for classes so that everyone produces something they feel proud of. I will not teach you how to print your logo on a tote bag because there are 500 more interesting ways you can use a silkscreen.
I exhibited my work for the first time at Stockport Art Gallery in September 2021, after which I was asked by Arc Arts Centre to put on a solo show of over 20 works (including interactive exhibits and workshops). I’ve since exhibited across Greater Manchester including the Air Open 2022 (1250 artists entered, 30 were chosen), Cotton On Manchester’s ‘In Manchester’ exhibition, Manchester Sew Social’s show for International Women’s Day and Inch Art’s 2022 Winter Exhibition.
In the course of making my art I often discover new techniques that can be applied to product design. Most of these techniques are used to transform reclaimed materials which would have been headed to landfill or thrown away by other businesses in the mill where my workshop is based.
I’ve always thought being able to see potential in things was a super power. You just have to be willing to experiment with materials until either a) something breaks or b) a beautiful thing is created. Persistence is key here, which is why I have ‘What does this button do?’ painted on my the studio wall in very big letters. I grew up being sternly told to do things PROPERLY in a WEIRDLY SPECIFIC WAY using PARTICULAR METHODS and MATERIALS, but I always thought it was nonsense. Craft and art both benefit hugely when we question established norms and snobbery around techniques and materials.
Before art became my primary focus, I was a writer. My first break was when I was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Mary Stott journalism prize (I didn’t win, but I did get a two page article commissioned). That lead to a career in pop culture, fashion and music journalism (which was all of the larks but none of the money). In turn, that lead to a brief spell as a ghostwriter and a teaching career at a very amusing, School of Rock-style music college, where I earned my CTLLS teaching qualification.