Beautiful Kantha Embroidery

This will be a visual feast of kantha embroidery research and found imagery from around the web and the world.

I was doing a little kantha embroidery – to clarify, kantha can just mean running stitch, but I think of it when it is dense and continuous – forming patterns from the negative space.

Before I went to India to work on my old project Teller Clothing, with the wonderful Saheli Women, I got struck by a kantha piece in the V&A… I think it was one of these but I can’t find my original imagery now.

Anyway, long story short – it is a technique I want to explore more – I like how it slightly puckers and distorts the fabric (that is probably my bad tension). I like how it is a build up, you can’t see it until it is finished… I don’t know, something cool about Kantha embroidery that I definitely want to explore more.

Just look at that elephant (above)!! All of these images above and below are from the Google arts museum search, actually an amazing resource.

Modern kantha embroidery

So I love the above for the history and reference, but found some beautiful modern examples too.

Areumin Azu

A textile artist who I know nothing about but I follow on instagram and she/he does beautiful experimental kantha embroidery work. I really love how they build up the stitches and patterns to make very ‘alive’ work.

Here are two more examples, less ‘heavy’ kantha but both beautiful.

Top left by another artist I follow on insta who I know nothing about (no website so can’t stalk much) and the other images are by Sayan Chanda.

My Kantha Embroidery

All quite weird and wonderful, a start – long way to go. It is quite a slow technique though!!

Re-imagining Madge Gill

Experiencing first hand this morning the power of stitching to bring people together. A lovely zoom with East London Textile Arts and – a project re-imaginging the work of Madge Gill. An open brief to stitch or explore her work in some way. 

Madge worked in such a way that it connects people. She used her drawing and her embroidery as a tool through a difficult life…and using her work as inspiration or a ‘food for thought’ jumping off point, stories were shared from the group of how stitching and drawing has helped people through illness, was used by family members through mental health traumas and how stitching was used as an escape from life during difficult times. 

Today, I really experienced the joy and power of sitting with an open, supportive, friendly group stitching and chatting together – it was lovely. 

The exhibition is in conjunction with Newham Heritage Month (who have a great website btw) is called Re-imagining Madge Gill and is in Little Ilford Baptist Church on Saturday 22 May (11-4pm).

The book about Madge Gill can be found here – I don’t know whether to order one to Portugal or pick it up when I’m in the UK. I think I will order it.

I was working on an embroidery that I had started a while ago, but it never got anywhere so I re-worked into it looking at it through the lens of Madge’s work. I always felt connected to her work and I always loved it. 

When I first saw the work of Madge Gill, probably around 10 years ago in the Welcome Collection, I think it actually validated the doodles and faces and pages that I always felt compelled to draw and do but didn’t think were ‘art’.  It also made me feel seen; not such a weird-o that I used drawing to process emotion, when it was more difficult for me to talk about things.

I think now I am opening up to my emotional side, maybe I don’t use drawing in such a way any more but I can still access the power of filling up a page and the need to fill it before you can let your mind go to anywhere else.

Here is the piece I was working on. It’s not finished but I will keep pottering along.

I wish I could go to the exhibition in person and meet the ladies. 

The most touching story that was shared, was by a woman named Rachelle Francis who’s late mother Diana was a prolific artist – who sadly shared similar struggles as Madge and also a similar style of work.

It was really moving to hear a child’s experience of a mother who couldn’t connect though words but used art as her vehicle, and her work was absolutely incredible! It can be found here.

I hope an art institution helps Rachelle show her mother’s work to the world – as it deserves to be seen.

Another artist that was brought up this morning that I hadn’t come across was Agnes Richter (pic above), who was admitted into a psychiatric institution when she was in her 50’s and embroidered heavily and autobiographically onto her jacket. This reminds me of a work by Katerina Jebb that I can across recently in AnOther Magazine that I wanted to talk about so I think I will link that together somehow and BRB.

For now here are some amazing images of Madge Gil’s drawing and embroidery works.

Just incredible, incredible work – free form large scale embroidery. Loose threads, canvasses spanning meters and meters. Just amazing – I would love to see more of the work in real life!

Spacious weaving art form three artists

I am often trying to incorporate spaciousness and lightness into my 3D weaving. Like I am trying to create art forms with lots of empty space. My experiments haven’t come to much, yet, but, I will keep trying.

Here are some artists that do it beautifully with different weaving and textiles techniques.

Sui Park

Her work reminds me of natural forms and organic matter with a synthetic contrast. Wonderful, strange sea-creatures.

I don’t know what technique she uses, it looks like it emerges as is, and I think that is part of the beauty. Delicate yet strong. Formed but moving.

Saskia Saunders

This weaving artist creates wonderful, light hand woven wall hangings. They have just the right ‘falling-apart-ness’ and have a nice energy and movement to them. Art pieces that are on the edge of peeling away from the wall and fleeting away from you.

Ruth Asawa

The incredible American artist Ruth Asawa sadly passed away in 2013. I’m gutted I missed her exhibition in London a few years ago. I believe that seeing these large wire forms in person, with their incredible skill and then the life that they have on their own hanging / swaying in a space would be magical. I find them very meditative and inspiring.

I’m about to get creatively distracted watching all the videos on her site, and I suggest you do the same.

I will post more WIP images here, I will add some of my trials if I feel brave enough.

Basketry research

A collection of visual basketry reference and research.

Above Native American & Indian research, mainly from a wonderfully in-depth book called Apache Indian Baskets by Clara Lee Tanner.

Above: Research based on very natural materials, grasses and willows. I’m afraid I don’t have full reference but the old reference pic is from Tim Johnston’s Instagram, and the bottom right I believe is his. His instagram is an amazing resource for baskets and basket making!

I would love to do more with natural willow and grasses but I haven’t yet got into it… all the soaking and picking and foraging puts me off!

Above: Playing with shape and form. Once again, I really need to start referencing better! The bottom left is from incredible artist and basket maker Anne Marie O Sullivan. This type of basket research got me really excited at the possibilities (the endless, endless possibilities) when I first discovered the techniques.

Above: Material play.

The bottom left is the wonderful Stella Harding, who I was lucky enough to take a short course with in Morley college in London which was fantastic. The lamps at the bottom are Sebastian Cox, who does beautiful woodwork. Ah, the two on the right are Terrol Dew Johnson, who I don’t know much about but am now going to have to research properly because his work looks Amazing! and he seems v. prolific…). Ah, also the big image is a lovely paper basket by Polly Pollock, who also teaches and has an instagram showing some beautiful work!

I will show some of my basket WIP here.