Diane Bates

Internationally acclaimed textile artist, renowned for her intricate, 3-dimensional embroidery and costume creations, Diane Bates, taught at Bradford School of Art from 1970 until 2004.

Diane BatesDiane has a BA (Hons) Fine Art/Textiles from Goldsmiths College, an MA in Industrial Design from Birmingham and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. To all those who have encountered her, she is uniquely and quite simply, the Mistress of Stitch.

“My creative footprint at Bradford College spanned well over 3 decades. During that time I was privileged to work with thousands of students across further and higher education departments, often teaching on 7 courses concurrently. At times I felt I should replace my signature black hat with a magic one with a rabbit in it! But I thrived on the challenges as I enjoyed teaching; the more variety the better. It kept me sharp, on my toes, never bored – much healthier than being elitist, which I felt would limit my teaching. It was tough, tiring and yet energising. In many cases I related more to students that probably hadn’t had a privileged background, socially or educationally, because neither had I.

I had personal experience of nightmare teachers who judged a book by its cover and I also had some outstanding ones that did take the time to look further. I am a firm believer that one has to qualify as a human being first, anything else is a bonus. I was privileged to work with and alongside many terrific colleagues that not only knew what they were talking about but were practitioners in their own right, as I am. That in itself is a juggling act with a full-teaching timetable, but this was essential to continue growing creatively. I look back to many happy, rewarding and endearing memories of so many students that not only achieved in the College but went on to further themselves in so many areas, nationally and internationally.”

Since her release from the time constraints of full-time lecturing, Diane has been overwhelmed by invitations to speak, teach and exhibit, virtually all over the world. Diane has travelled so intensively lately that she has been likened to Marco Polo! “During the next 6 months I have a teaching tour in Australia and New Zealand in the early autumn. As I come back to Heathrow from Australia on the Monday, my touring retrospective exhibition opens the same week in London (No going home for me to put my feet up or wash my smalls!) Then it is on to Dublin, and another show in the UK.”

Diane also plans squeezing PhD research and writing her autobiography into her already packed schedule in the near future. “Another of my aspirations is to be instrumental in creating an independent space which would offer opportunities for artists, writers, poets and musicians to have a mental and physical space to be able to express and develop their creative footprint without compliance of any sort, as it used to be and as I believe it still can be.”

Photograph by Trevor Griffiths