Ditchfield Designs


I emigrated to Australia from the UK in 1979 with no previous history, interest or experience with art. Immediately I was struck by the light and colours compared with England.   I became a fabric painter by pure chance.  Whilst walking past a gallery in Adelaide I saw a magnificent dress in the window, I coveted it immediately, soft greens and turquoise like the sea, beautiful material, flattering style but (of course) it was too small.  However I went into the gallery to ask if by any chance there was another in my size – of course the answer was NO, it was handpainted fabric and a “one-off”.  Seeing my obviously crestfallen face the lady said to me… “however I can teach you to paint your own fabric so you can make your own dress!” – I was hooked from them on.  I started in the summer in the garden with cotton stretched between two tables under the patio.  When winter arrived I took over the spare bedroom, tarpaulins on the floor, covers for the bed, the bottles on the dressing table.  I graduated to silk, more exciting and saleable (as I was painting far more than I could possibly use).  When we moved to our present home in the Adelaide Hills Jim built me an enormous studio all for myself.

For ten years or so I painted silk scarves and sold them to upmarket tourist shops, resorts and hotels all over Australia.  I had to learn to sell and to run a business, which I picked up the hard way – by myself!  I took my silk to the Barrier Reef and the Rock and also sold my scarves to the government, both State and Federal, and others as gifts for overseas travellers or visitors.  It was a chance remark in Canberra “its a pity you don’t have an all-Australian product” that set me off onto the present track.  

Locating wool fine enough to paint on with a suitable finish was difficult but eventually I discovered some and started selling Australian wool scarves to Australians – more difficult than silk.  I made a shirt to promote myself, someone asked me to paint one for them and the shirt side of the business was up and running.  

With the change of direction to mainly wool I changed marketing direction too.   Over the years I have become tired of waiting and hassling for my money, tired of being told my scarves are too expensive (nothing to do with the 100-120% markup that many retail outlets add). The lack of interest in most salespeople as to the individuality or quality of the item has been another disappointment.  I have now almost given up retailing and now I sell direct from the studio, by mail and I travel to agricultural field days and craft events.  For 12 years I sold to the visitors to Adelaide who arrived in cruise ships.  My time at the terminal was the best ever.  Overseas visitors really appreciated the wool and the fact that it was made in Australia. There one can talk to people and interest them in the product and they in turn feel they have bought something with a background. One advantage in being a small business is that one can cater for small orders or personalised items

The shirts come in standard sizes, but can be made to order in any size and almost any colour you can dream up.  Each piece is painted individually so the amount of material and colour can be perfect for each customer.  You can, if you wish, buy a wool length and sew up your own garment.

My only regret is that nowadays there is no fine wool woven in Australia.  The fleece goes to  Germany in the bale to be spun and woven, then it goes to Italy to be ‘finished’ and then back here.  I buy it from an agent in the UK.  This of course makes the fabric expensive.

The outback colours of Australia are a constant inspiration.  It must have taken the move from soft pastel Europe to vibrant Australia to give birth to my love of colour and hence the whole fabric painting business.

I am now 77 and cant give it up – colour is addictive and we live in a dull world.


Hand-painted wool shirts, tops, wraps and scarves as well as hand-painted fabric.


08 82781614




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