I dance with paint and thread on canvas to create contemporary abstract embroidery paintings that are both atmospheric and playful yet evocatively powerful.
I was born in Pembrokeshire in Wales, now based in Hampshire UK. I was fortunate to have excelled in art through my early education; winning Student of The Year at West Wales School of The Arts in 1999. In 2002 I won the New Designers Lucienne Day Award for Innovative Textiles. In that same year I went on to gain my Masters in Textiles at the Royal College of Art, London. It was here I discovered my love for conceptual art and painting as well as textiles. Born from my experience at RCA I realised that boundaries were there to be broken and that my love affair with paint and stitch could dance together. After years of dedication and exploration, my original style emerged – embroidered abstract paintings.
Strong and free, unique and spontaneous, elegant and anarchic; this is the message I hope to convey in my work. Playful, organic forms, harmonious yet bold colours, are stitched into with highly detailed, dynamic embroidery compositions. Carefully recreated in stitch they become conscious and considered acts that transcend the possibilities of the human emotional experience; of impulse, spontaneity, desire and love.
My contemporary painting style draws loose inspiration from the drama and light of Impressionism and Romanticism, combined with elements of graffiti and vandalism. I paint abstracted landscapes, places in the cosmos we cannot see; collective and personal memories, experiences and emotions. This is not a rejection of the natural world but a way of looking at life differently – seeing beyond ourselves and our existence to a higher form of being. The process of painting is a journey and as I paint, memories and emotions come to the surface in the act of mark making and the application of colour. Working in layers, a natural narrative in each painting is born with parts of its story revealed to the viewer or held back and hidden under layers of paint or stitch.
My paintings are created through a process of small experimental sketches and collages, I recreate these several times over and with each stage the compositions become abstracted and expressional interpretations of my memories come to the surface.
I work in a highly contrasting, two-stage process; the first is an intuitive and energetic approach to painting. I work with a combination of oils, acrylics, spray paint and pastels, pen and graphite. My multimedia approach enables me to create a dynamic and energised aesthetic. I throw, scrape, scratch, smear, wipe, roller, spray and splatter paint onto canvas, the emotion pours out of me onto canvas. Once a composition begins to breathe on its own, I know it’s time to stitch into it with my embroidery.
The impetus for my embroidery is fuelled by my love of texture, it enables me to add a further dimension to my paintings. I use a combination of hand and machine embroidery (I use my sewing machine to ‘draw with stitches’ directly into the painted canvas). The process of stitching is also one of meditation, it allows me to be in the present and find my centre. The finished artwork results in highly tactile layers of paint and stitch, that embody an arresting sense of depth, emotion and movement.
Both painting and stitch are forms of restoration; emotional and physical. They both repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make art from something that is fragmented or unable to be seen, enables us to visually understand our experiences of this world. Painting and embroidery are my attempts to keep things together and make things whole.