10 Contemporary embroidery artists

10 Contemporary embroidery artists

The word ‘embroidery‘ comes with baggage; more often than not it evokes images of crocheted tea towels and twee cushion covers. But over the last few years, a new generation of textile and mixed media artists (of all ages I might add) have been using both machine and hand stitch to challenge these preconceptions; they often honour traditional techniques but use them in combination with more contemporary mediums or methods to create artwork that is original and refreshing. Today we take a look at the work of 10 such contemporary embroidery artists.

Debbie Smyth

Debbie Smyth uses embroidery to create contemporary artworks - Trolleyed, 525x525mm

Debbie Smyth – Trolleyed, 525x525mm

Textile artist Debbie Smyth is best known for her stitched illustrations. By plotting pins with acute accuracy and then stretching thread between them, she creates work that is beautiful and somewhat disconcerting; the boundaries of textile art, fine art sketches, embroidery, and illustration are well and truly blurred. For more information visit Debbie-Smyth.com

Inge Jacobson

Contemporary stitch artist Inge Jacobsen - Threaded Vogue Cover

Inge Jacobsen – Threaded Vogue Cover

Inge Jacobsen uses found commercial imagery and thread to put her own spin on classic advertising. Embroidery is used to physically alter the pictures and appropriate their meaning; the artist has named this process ‘hijacking’. Recently Inge has enjoyed working on a commission for American Express, who wanted an original perspective on 3 of their classic cards to use in a social media advertising campaign. For more information visit IngeJacobsen.com

Kazuhito Takadoi

Kazuhito Takadoi uses embroidery to make beautiful modern art - AKI (Autumn)

Kazuhito Takadoi – AKI (Autumn)

Kazuhito Takadoi takes the well-worn subject matter of nature and frames it in a minimalistic and contemporary setting. All the materials he uses are sourced from nature too; simply dried then stitched. He is also intrigued by shadows, which play a vital role in his work, adding another layer of depth and interest. For more information visit KazuhitoTakadoi.com

Lauren DiCioccio

Stitch artist Lauren DiCioccio - NYT Saturday July 4, 2009

Lauren DiCioccio – NYT Saturday July 4, 2009

Lauren DiCioccio explores the palpable impact of mass-produced media; magazines, newspapers and plastic bags have all been used as inspiration, and the imagery found on them as the basis for work that is powerful and provocative. But the artist also seeks to engage the viewer with a sense of nostalgia; as these types of media become more and more obsolete, her work acts as a reminder of times gone by. For more information visit LaurenDiCioccio.com

Ana Teresa Barboza

Textile artist Ana Teresa Barboza - Graphite & Embroidery on cloth 44" x 47"

Ana Teresa Barboza – Graphite & Embroidery on cloth, 44″ x 47″

Ana Teresa Barboza is fascinated by the variety of concepts an artist can arrive at using embroidery. An interest in the human body is also prevalent in much of her art. She regularly works with photographs printed on fabric that she then embellishes with stitch; she embroiders decorative patterns that serve as camouflage. For more information visit AnaTeresaBarboza.Blogspot.co.uk

Lynn Skordal

Lynn Skordal - Stitched medical diagram

Lynn Skordal – Stitched medical diagram

Lynn Skordal worked as a lawyer for many years; it wasn’t until her retirement that she returned to her first love. She uses a variety of media, including collage on paper and occasionally embroidery to create arresting pieces of contemporary art. For more information visit LynnSkordal.Paspartout.com

Izziyana Suhaimi

Textile art by Izziyana Suhaimi

Textile art by Izziyana Suhaimi

Izziyana Suhaimi’s primary method of creation is embroidery. This artist seeks to break down the boundaries that exist between traditional and popular cultures by investigating and highlighting their connections, but also their differences; the time-consuming and traditional craft of stitch is often juxtaposed with a world addicted to instant gratification and mass production. For more information visit My-Bones.tumblr.com

Sarah Walton

Sarah Walton - Embroidered illustration

Sarah Walton – Embroidered illustration

Sarah Walton makes embroidered illustrations using machine stitch. She describes her work as threaded drawings. Colourful pieces of patterned fabric are used as accents in otherwise simple and minimalistic images that depict every-day characters. For more information visit Sarah’s Etsy shop

Meredith Woolnough

Contemporary Embroidery Art - thread on paper by Meredith Woolnough.

Meredith Woolnough – Red Coral Branch

Australian artist Meredith Woolnough draws upon the natural world as inspiration for what she terms her ’embroidered specimens’; skeletal frameworks of flora and fauna form the basis of her work.  Dense stitches are used on freeform sculptures, which are then meticulously pinned to paper or set in resin for preservation. For more information visit MeredithWoolnough.com.au

Kirsty Whitlock

Contemporary embroidery art by Kirsty Whitlock - Losses, 2009

Kirsty Whitlock – Losses, 2009

TextileArtist.org interviewee Kirsty Whitlock‘s work challenges traditional connotations of embroidery and seeks to communicate messages of social responsibility through the use of recycled and reclaimed materials. The concept of the ‘throw-away culture’ is a constant and central theme. She uses plastic carrier bags, newspapers and discarded household items as a format for embroidery.

For more information visit KirstyWhitlock.com

If you have enjoyed this article about contemporary embroidery art, let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

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38 Comments on “10 Contemporary embroidery artists

  • The word ‘Needlepoint’ faces the same baggage as ’embroidery’ in that it most often it is never taken seriously. Probably because there are only a handful of artists around the world experimenting with this medium. Niki McDonald of Sydney, AU is one of them.

    As a contemporary artist I embrace the the traditional, simple basketweave stitch and make it sing in new ways. I have a passion to promote the idea that needlepoint has the potential to be exhibited in the contemporary fiber artist’s portfolio.

    For a sample of my contemporary take on needlepoint, please click this link.

      • Joe

        Hi Nonney – not sure what this comment is in response to. We’re a blog – none of the artists featured are officially affiliated with us in any way. Thanks for visiting though.

  • I am quite enjoyed looking at this work and I will spend much time looking at the work on the links.

  • Fantastic! The exciting thing about textiles is it’s non-acceptance within the ‘artworld’. But there lies it’s potential – so much is unexplored and yet to be revealed!

  • Margaret Hynds-Ryman

    Great art with meaning. I found Ana Teresa Barboza’s work absolutely compelling. Why is the graphite woman holding such a huge colourfully embroidered bird? Why? What does it mean? Is the bird sleeping or dead? If it is the latter, did the lack of respect we have for the environment kill it?

  • Don’t you think the term ‘little old lady’ is derisory and insulting? I do. Where do you think your skills were passed down from? You start off young and end up old and then older. That will be you. Will you like your work being spoken about in such a way then? Will you like being ‘little’ and old and of no apparent account? I am proud of our heritage and it comes from people of all ages. Give older people some respect please. I’m tired of all this, ‘not your grandmother’s’ knitting/sewing/crochet/embroidery stuff. The stuff a lot of people do these days is simplistic in skill level and conception in comparison.

    • Joe

      Hi Sara – I absolutely take your point and I’ve amended the text in response. I have nothing but respect for our heritage and my own grandmother created beautiful embroidery art, some of which I still have today. I think I was trying to make the point that these artists are doing something new and fresh, but I can see how using the term ‘little old lady’ may be taken as derisory – it was not intended as such – more to evoke an image of old vs new (not that either is necessarily better). Thanks for the comment.

    • Thank you Sara….I quite agree with your comments and your power with words is quite awesome. Bet you made a few folks see things in a new light. Also, you made me laugh out loud. Thanks.

  • I `feel` very nuch the embroidered mags and newspapers, It is the kind of art i could make! For myself i have created one work where i included a Book cover embroidery, out of which i took a phrasse , As well as a Title page of a Dutch Handcraft magazine that my Great Uncle pblished , mirjam

  • Thank you for this very inspiring article. As a University student in a contemporary art school, doing textiles as well as painting, the ideas allow me to continue doing what I love to do. I have drawn a picture, then stitched in black and white. People looked at it twice before realising that I had used cotton thread. I am now more enthusiastic to keep on using my mediums, with paints, objects to explore my own potential. MarilynJanet

  • Really enjoying reading about the work of other textile artists. As I am in New Zealand it is important to keep up with the work other artists are creating overseas. Interesting how often similar themes evolve and the different ways people approach the same concepts.

  • what a visual feast and so inspiring, I’ve looked at the blog many times and still find myself mesmerized by the unique and clever way the artists express themselves using textiles as their medium x

  • It has taken 20 plus years to find the right formula Which I have explored the world of fabrics texture & colours in my own art works

    Textileartist is a new & refreshing site full of advice.
    Thank you Patric Purnell

  • I am an old lady (81) is 5’7″ little? And, I’m a granny.. also, I am an artist and I find this blog to be incredibly inspiring. Seeing this new, contemporary work stimulates my own muse. I work mostly with collage now, but have been a painter and embroider-er most of my life.. I can see a new connection between my collage imagery and fiber and thread because of your site. Thank you so much for all the work you put into creating your blog. It is wonderful.
    👏👍🏻Carole Free

  • Wow this Embroidery is amazing and I want to appreciate you for sharing as this article is very helpful 🙂 Keep on updating about new things as well 🙂


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