Lilac scent takes me straight back there

Childhood memories of a council house garden, lovingly nurtured by her parents for more than 60 years, are the inspiration for an extraordinary collection of new work by Ruth Rotherham.

The felt artist, whose beautiful wall hangings, bowls and vessels go on show for the first time during the Leigh Art Trail (June 9-16), has poured herself into a project she describes as a "tribute" to her mother, 94, and late father.

"I wanted to express and explore my memories of the garden from when I was little because it's the end of an era," says Ruth, whose mum moved out of the house last year to go into a nursing home.

"I have sought to express the joy and pleasure that garden brought me though interpretations of the flowers and plants.

“I find the fibres, colours, textures and versatility of felt captivating and the last few years have been a wonderful time of exploration and growth. My work has really developed.”

Sights and scents transport Ruth, whose bold designs are a combination of wet felting and needle felting, back to a place with which she built strong emotional bonds. 

"There was a very large lilac tree and mum used to bring the flowers into the house. The perfume of lilac now takes me straight back to the garden,” she says. “Forsythia and lavender have a similar effect.

"And every Sunday in summer I remember dad going into the garden and picking a rose or carnation for his buttonhole before church."

Ruth's mum now suffers from dementia and the artist adds: "Because of that, we are not completely sure if she realises she is never going back to her home, which has been returned to the council.  

"It is very strange and slightly sad that I will never go back either, but producing this work for the Leigh Art Trail has given me an outlet for those feelings and allowed me to celebrate a place I will always hold dear.”


Notes to Editors

Ruth’s delightful work will be displayed at Paul Joseph Eyecare, 90 Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Please find attached images.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at or visit