I see the threaded needle as a mark making tool I can use with various materials and media to produce art with unexpected, improvisational effects as opposed to an element of precise technical excellence. We’re all influenced by what we see – and many artists I admire are using hand stitches in their art as mark making in addition to constructional functions.
A year ago I made this small quilt, Regeneration 2, currently on show in the Australia Wide Seven exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre, Canberra, until December 18th. The 40 selected 40sq. cm quilts in that collection will travel between venues in Australia and New Zealand until the end of 2022.
If you look at the detail of this small piece, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you commented out loud that it looks rather amateurish. Those raw irregular edges and hanging bits of thread are a world away from finely executed traditional hand applique, which I can do, of course. I’ve done plenty of cross stitch, pulled and drawn thread work, hardanger and other traditional embroideries, all quite exacting, and I love them all. I own and take pleasure in using household linens worked by my grandmothers, and other lovely antique hand stitched linens by unknown stitchers that I’ve collected. I love them all, but I just don’t work that way – which is what I’ve always said about traditional quilts.
I have certainly been influenced by the surge in popularity of hand stitch and the growth of the Slow Stitch movement over the last decade. For the last year my surface design has centred on hand stitch, which is why I’ve enjoyed the TextileArtist.org Stitch Club workshops I’ve been taking over the past few months.