Sumi Perera interview: The importance of process

Sumi Perera interview: The importance of process

Contemporary textile artist Sumi Perera’s work is well-known for embracing the influences of her life in the East and West as a doctor, scientist and artist.

She has been widely celebrated having won many international awards including the Birgit Skiold Award for excellence in Book Arts, the Grand Prize at the 1st International Book Arts Competition and the Prize in the Kaleidoscope Hoffmann Challenge, National Quilt Championships.

She has been chosen to exhibit at many of the world’s major galleries including Tate Britain, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, PrintROOM in Rotterdam, Guanian Museum in China and Grafisk vaerksted-Naestved in Denmark.

Here she discusses her success and how she continues to grow and evolve as an artist.

Flexibility of fibres What initially captured your imagination about contemporary textile art?
Sumi Perera:
The tactile nature and flexibility of fibres.

What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work ?
My maternal and paternal aunts who were professional dressmakers and creative spirits, inspired me.

What was your route to becoming a mixed media textile artist artist?
I had been an artist all my life, though I worked as a doctor and scientist, prior to doing a MA at Camberwell College in London.

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
Mixed Media Assemblage techniques, combining traditional and digital methods of printmaking with stitch.

Process is of utmost importance

How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
They range from private personal hand held books to large installational artworks.

Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
Process is of utmost importance, often incorporating these preliminary trajectories within the ‘finished’ product. I work both within my home and studio space.

What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Socio-political issues. Alighiero Boetti, Michael Raedecker, Louise Bourgeoise and Doris Salcedo.

Breaking down invisible barriers

Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
Shattering the Glass Ceiling – which was conceived for an exhibition at the Freud Museum. It lead to many other pieces along the same theme, regarding breaking down invisible barriers, ie. Climbing The Sticky Ladder I-IV, Burning the Brass Ceiling, Shattering the Stained Glass Ceiling etc.

How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
It embraces multi-disciplinary practices and acquires a performative element sometimes.

The future

Do you give talks or run workshops or classes? If so where can readers find information about these?
Yes. On my website:

How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
Usually through membership group shows: Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE), Society Of Designer Craftsmen (MSDC) & Society of Graphic Fine Arts (SGFA), 62 Group, Printmakers Council (PMC), LOOP, East London Printmakers (ELP) etc. Other juried shows and invitations.

Where can readers see your work this year?
Royal Academy and Bankside Gallery in London; Kyoto in Japan; New Haven in USA. Sketchbook Project: touring USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

For more information visit:

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Monday 24th, October 2016 / 15:49

About the author

Sam is the co-founder of and son of textile artist Sue Stone. Connect with Sam on Google+c/a>

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