Dotty Scotty

Dotty Scotty’s stunning creations are so life lifelike you’d almost expect them to flutter off back to the wild

by Eric Beardsworth

Beautiful textile birds perch around the studio of artist Joanna Scott in the Norfolk Broads – but her heart is still in her native Yorkshire.

Born and brought up in the Railway Children village of Oakworth, West Yorkshire, Joanne puts her artistic talents to good use working and selling as Dotty Scotty from her studio in the
village of Brundall on the Norfolk Broads. They have lived there for 10 years.

“It’s beautiful here, but not as good as Yorkshire though,” she laughs. Joanna, 46, married to husband Ian, with children Elliot and Eve and stepson Matthew, creates gorgeous finely detailed birds of all descriptions; everything from jet black blackbirds to multi-coloured kingfishers.

They are so life lifelike you’d almost expect them to flutter off back to the wild…although one that isn’t quite authentic is a robin redbreast wearing a flat cap! “That’s my northern robin, as I call him. People up north really like them.”

Joanna’s talent was first spotted when she was Joanna Fish, a little girl in Oakworth. Her family lived in Hillside Avenue, and their next door neighbour was an art teacher. One day he
spotted Joanne drawing on the paving of his patio, and told her mum: “I think she’s got talent.”

“I was about five years old,” Joanna recalls. “I don’t remember what it was that I’d drawn, but I remember he said it was good. He actually ended up being my art teacher at middle school.”

It’s beautiful here, but not as good as Yorkshire though

Joanna developed her talent for art through Oakworth Primary School, Bronte Middle School at Oakworth and Oakbank Grammar School at Keighley, and went on to do a degree in fine art, print making and textiles at Bradford and Ilkley College.

Joanna went into primary schools to work with children with a talent for art, just like herself, then about three years ago her husband found a studio and said ‘Why not do something for yourself?’

“So I just set up on my own and rediscovered things I had visited throughout my education – sculptural form that I really enjoyed when I did a foundation degree before my BA, and textiles which is what I really should have done all along.”

Joanna started making birds with flower designs on them, but then customers started asking for specific birds.

“They’d say ‘Do you make robins?’ or ‘Do you make blackbirds?’ and I thought ‘Well, no I don’t, but I think I need to.’ Everybody’s got a tale about a bird or everybody’s got a favourite bird. People come to me with commissions. They’ll say ‘Do you make owls?’ and I’ll say ‘No but I will do.’

Joanna tours craft fairs and open studio events with her birds, and sells from her studio and via the internet. Find her on Facebook as dottyscottyfelt. She aims to start needlefelt courses at her studio and possibly open a shop this year – full of birds, of course.

“I love the form birds have got,” she says. “So many birds have beautiful patterns on them and they’ve all got different characters.

“I usually have several on the go at once. A little bird will take four to five hours, the larger birds a lot more. It’s so labour intensive because I literally use one needle most of the time on the felt and material, and the detailing can take quite a long time. The kingfisher is so detailed it can take many many hours.”

More of Joanne’s designs can be found on Facebook as dottyscottyfelt.Dotty Scotty