Embroidery – what does the word conjure up for you? Samplers perhaps, intricately embroidered table cloths at your grandmothers? We all have different notions that pop into our head when we hear that word. For me, I’m transported back to my primary school years being taught embroidery by the vicar’s wife, her work was very, very precise and uniform and mine – well, let’s just say it wanted to escape the imposed boundaries.
This centuries old, timeless craft uses simple basic tools – fabric, needle, thread or yarn and perhaps embellishments such as beads, shells etc. Very little is needed to start this creative pass-time. Its history spans hundreds of cultures and countries, techniques and stitches passed down the ages with each generation improving on the last in range of style and concepts.
But what happens when artists think outside the box (or hoop)?
I recently came across some embroidery artists stretching the boundaries of creative stitching and if you thought embroidery was just for tablecloths, the following images may just change your mind.
Here embroidery takes on a new vitality, boundaries pushed and the meaning of embroidery taken and stretched to its limits.
Below is my first selection of 5 artists taking embroidery beyond the fabric.
First up we have Ana Teresa Barboza, working with an embroidery hoop doesn’t confine Ana’s imagination and her work leaps beyond the boundaries of the hoop. There is a wonderful sense of movement in Suspension, you can almost feel the spray from the waves rolling towards the shore line, the waves cascading over the edge. Her work feels very organic and natural and these artworks will energise any interior space..
Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene is an Lithuanian artist and has completely re-written the rules on embroidery. This is where delicate floral imagery meets hard hitting metal edges. Abandoning fabric completely her stunning floral cross stitch patterns can be seen on car bonnets and doors as well as other unusual items including everyday utensils and metal buckets. Her use of embroidery art mixes up our preconceived notions of “traditional embroidery” and invites us to consider any object is a possible candidate for needle and thread.
Christopher Leung, founder of Art of Silk combines centuries tradition with modern technology to produce some stunning results. This US and China based company produce fabulous hand designed silk embroidery artworks of still-life, landscapes, people, flowers and much more. Each design has over 100,000 stitches and is meticulously hand stitched by a master artisan in Suzhou, taking 12 weeks to complete a single design. This is then traced creating a digital version from which multiple copies can then be made using advanced technology and silk threads. Some designs incorporate 1/4 silk thread which is a single silk thread that has been split into 4 threads, using 1/4 silk thread produces highly detailed pieces and utilises the highest levels of craftsmanship.
Meredith Woolnough is an internationally acclaimed, award winning artist from Newcastle, Australia creating highly detailed embroideries showing the agile abilities of the natural world. Using special fibres Meredith carefully builds up her design before dissolving the film to leave behind intricate skeleton threads of patterns of leaves, shells and coral. Pinned to a light box these delicate threads give an illusion of preserved specimens. Her exquisite embroidery of tiny stitches weave intricate veining systems in nature exploring the fragile balance and connectivity of life on Earth.
Cape Town-based artist Danielle Clough she uses embroidery hoops to create a vibrant palette of woven threads taking inspiration from the everyday – plants, animals, pop culture and even emojis. Her work is bright and colourful and the elaborate use of yarn brings to life every cloth and canvas it touches. I love her What A Racket series using vintage tennis and badminton rackets, perfect for those who like to sit and watch rather than participate and I immediately fell in love with her alpaca Alpacalypse. Extending her skills further Clough has produced some stunning work floral designs on fencing and has even embroidered a pair of trainers.
Well, that’s my first 5 embroidery artists, each using thread and yarn in very different ways. I hope this has inspired you to either re-consider your thoughts on embroidery or perhaps take up as a hobby.
Embroidery it’s time for a re-think.
Thanks for stopping by.