Roswitha Spence may have helped create costumes for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Opera, but her favourite professional memory is not of clothing, but of music.
Mrs Spence recalls being on her way to a dress rehearsal of a production of Beethoven’s Fidelio to check the costumes when the performances came over the tannoy system.
“I completely lost the purpose of why I was there. The music just did so much for me,” she said.
“It was an unforgettable moment… Until my boss at the end of it came along and said ‘yes I know darling, but we do have to work’.”
Mrs Spence began sewing at the age of three. She made her own clothes and moved on to costumes for school plays.
Later, after studying for three years in Stuttgart, Germany, she worked in the theatre and the opera, and for a couture designer in London.
The former costume cutter has had a lifetime of experience in myriad creative forms.
Mrs Spence and her husband Michael taught at Emerson College in Sussex, England, and she has written a book, Clothing the Play.
She has worked with a loom and a spinning wheel, created batik works, done puppetry and made toys, bringing all manner of arts and crafts to her students at the college.
Mrs Spence has also passed on her talent and passion to daughter Fiona Durman, and recalls making her then-eight-year-old daughter’s first loom from plywood.
Having lived in separate hemispheres for three decades, the two are now close by in Wagga.
Mrs Durman and husband Cliff moved to Australia from the UK in 1987 and her parents joined them in 2015.
Together the mother and daughter are now running Ashculme Textiles. Mrs Spence is, for now, concentrating on creating quilts and Mrs Durman on weaving.
But it’s not just any fibre that she weaves as Mrs Durman’s creations are largely made from the fibre of her own alpacas.
The flock of eight Suri alpacas were chosen specifically for their silky fleeces.
“It been wonderful having my parents come here, and being able to do this,” Mrs Durman said.