Lu Mason

Lu Mason is a self-taught artist based in York. She works across many different mediums, from cut paper and recycled fabrics to Perspex and spray paint, creating vibrant, storied rag rugs, mobiles, murals, installations, and bold jewellery. An avid fan of jumble sales and an early adopter of fashion upcycling, Lu uses her rag rug pieces to draw attention to the immense untapped resource of discarded fast-fashion textiles.

“I make rugs in the traditional way by hooking strips of recycled cloth through a hessian backing cloth ( sometimes a coffee sack).  Originally I made ‘clippy rugs’, where the cloth is cut into short pieces, and all the ends of the short pieces are sticking up, making a thick, warm, luxurious pile.  Now I concentrate on making the ‘hooky’ rug, where the strip of cloth is looped continuously through the hessian, leaving a pile of loops. I prefer this method, as it is easier to make a defined pattern or image; the lines are clearer.

I source my “rags” from jumble sales, charity shops and clothes swaps, and from generous people giving me their old jumpers.  I also sometimes use waste cashmere from woollen mills; cloth that would otherwise go to landfill.

My inspiration comes from many sources: costumes, nature, domestic interiors, and words – emulating the idea of the sampler.  I like to celebrate the huge range of colours available to us today, compared to the darker colours from the first half of the 20th century, when ordinary people did not have the access to cheap cloth that we have now.  I love recycling cloth – thinking of it as a kind of alchemy – making something precious from something that was cast off.”


Power Dress

The idea for this is that we can buy a piece of clothing “off the peg” that will give us power, confidence and a chance to express our personality, or that of someone we’d like to be.  I have left visible strands of the cloth used, to link it well and truly to the Rag Trade.  The dress has strange designs of swirls and abstract motives to suggest a magical process will occur when putting the dress on.


Always Wear a Vest

The inspiration for this rug came from something that was drummed into me as a child, whatever the weather/time of year! I wanted to set it down as a Rule for Life, in the way that samplers would include quotes from the Bible.  Recently I saw an image in a book of Shetland hand knitting of a vest that was almost lace-like, beautifully knitted and very complicated.  I wanted to capture that feeling of making something beautiful and intimate to wear next to your skin, which might only be seen by you, or by your partner.



I have always been fascinated by the fragments of Coptic embroidery  that have survived since 7th/8th century from Egypt.  The faces of these figures, and their movements, have been hugely influential.  Often the cloth is damaged and worn away, but so much remains, even though they are usually tiny pieces. I find myself wondering who stitched that piece of cloth originally? I think of her as my sister across the centuries.  In this piece I have used my imagination to scale up the scrap of cloth that remains of this dancing figure, and fill in the bits that are missing.



On one of my lockdown walks I came across some graffiti in fluorescent orange and pink paint that just said the word RIOT.  I have done my own version of that bold statement here; it makes me think of how women particularly in repressive Victorian times – would do their needlework, even when they were in a rage.  And they would pour into that piece something of what they were feeling.  I also am thinking of the Luddites… the riots that erupted in the textile towns, especially in the north of England, when peoples’ livelihoods were at risk owing to the inventions of mechanised ways of weaving.