Former fashion designer Terry Rumak – who counts Lady Diana Spencer among her past clients – is now a member of Woodford Arts Group and spends her time creating patchwork quilts and geometric paintings.
Born in the North East of England, surrounded by rugged landscapes, seascapes and heavy industry, inspiration for painting was all around me.
I studied at Middlesbrough College of Art, and then St Martin’s School of Art in London, where I gained a BA in Fashion Design. After leaving St Martin’s in 1968, I worked with a number of established designers. London in the 1970s and 1980s was the epicentre of fashion design and it was therefore relatively easy to open my own boutique. A friend and I designed and made 24 garments, put them on a rail in a tiny shop within an arcade on New Bond Street, and Rumak & Sample began trading. Success was followed with a shop in an arcade opposite Harrods, on the Brompton Road, and then my own shop in Walton Street, Knightsbridge, where I began trading as Rumak & Rumak.
Focusing on evening and wedding gowns, plus special occasion clothes for Ascot, balls and concert appearances, my garments were bought by many actors, film stars and well-known people, including Lady Diana Spencer.
My designs and colour sense were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, 1940s fashion design and abstract artists. I travelled extensively in search of unusual fabrics and braids for inspiration, and loved the cultures, colours and smells of the places I visited. I was inspired by the fine silks, chiffons, gorgeous braids and ribbons I brought back from my travels. In 2018, one of my designs was shown in a Sunday Telegraph colour supplement and featured in an exhibition at Chatsworth, displaying the dresses of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire.
From 1984 to 2018 I worked in advertising, media and market research, and over the last 10 years, I’ve reduced my working hours to return to a more creative lifestyle, initially designing patchwork quilts, which allowed me to use intense colours and geometric patterns. Quilts are a labour of love as each one takes six to nine months from concept to completion. I’ve accepted several commissions, mainly for children, commemorating their date of birth. Each design is highly individual.
Presently, I am refining my drawing skills by sketching everyday objects and developing geometric paintings using strong colours and bold shapes. Most of my paintings are like a sculptor’s maquette since I envisage them on a large scale but produce the first idea on small canvasses. Recently, I was commissioned to paint a very large canvas which was shown in Woodford Arts Group’s last exhibition at Packfords Hotel.
As newcomers to South Woodford, my husband and I joined the Woodford Arts Group to establish friendships with local artists. Since most artists work in isolation, I feel the group offers an opportunity for feedback from people dealing with similar issues and the opportunity to exhibit my work as part of a group.