Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Three

Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Three

In the final part of our spotlight on the Stitching and Beyond textile art group, founder Wendy Koolhof interviews three more prominent members – hand embroiderer Marta Brysha, paper textile artist Sandra Champion and art shoemaker Luna Newby.

You can read about the group’s aims and history in Part One as well as three other interviews with members of Stitching and Beyond in Part Two.

Textile art by Marta Brysha

Marta Brysha – New world order

Marta Brysha

Where did your journey begin?

I taught myself embroidery about twenty years ago. I created large decorative pieces (of my own design) in which I explored various stitch techniques and developed my own expressive language. On moving to Tasmania seven years ago I was fortunate to meet a member of ‘Stitching and Beyond’. I joined immediately and learned that people were creating fine art using fibre and fabric. My mind began to explode with ideas and inspiration and I took off on my own tangent from there.

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer?

I work in the medium of hand embroidery using hand dyed silk fabrics and threads. I work with very fine threads to effect complexity and detail in the work, and I am increasingly working on a scale that is large relative to the fineness of the work. With each large work taking upwards of 400 hours to complete I needed a faster medium to express all of my ideas. I am now creating works on paper using ink and stitch. This year I will also be experimenting with block printing on paper. The process of cutting lino blocks is slow and meticulous, like embroidery, and I guess that’s why it appeals to me. My embroidered works are really a form of drawing and so moving into these other media is a natural extension of my core practice.

Textile art by Marta Brysha

Marta Brysha – Spoils of oil (detail)

What environment do you work in?

I am fortunate to live and work in the remote and rugged Central Highlands of Tasmania. My studio is a three-bedroom timber cottage nestled on 42 acres of virgin bushland. There are large windows with a northwest aspect providing essential natural light and a view over a large dam that is home to a platypus. The kitchen provides enough space and functionality to have a permanent working wet space for dyeing fabric and threads. There is a covered out door area with access to power that can be used for messier processes such as paper making, natural dyeing and indigo dyeing. This idyllic place provides the quiet and solitude that perfectly complements the slow, meditative nature of my art process.

Who & what has influenced you on this journey?

My first influence was my grandmother, Otilija, whose beautiful embroideries initially inspired me to take up needle and thread. My sister, Mihaela, is a wonderful artist (a painter). As a child she took me to art openings where I was exposed to many different art styles and media and she is the one who gave me my visual education. She taught me how to “see” and to evaluate art critically. Tasmania has a vibrant textile art community and I am fortunate to have befriended many talented artists who provide support, encouragement and valuable criticism.

My visual influences are diverse. I am fascinated by geometry and its influence can be seen in the Crop Circle series and the Shapes of Life series. I spend a lot of time looking at artwork on the internet. It keeps me abreast of what is happening worldwide and helps to fuel my creativity. Recently I visited NYC and spent a lot of time in museums and galleries. There is nothing like seeing, in person, the works of great artists to reinvigorate your enthusiasm, find solutions to your technical problems and help you focus on what you want to achieve in your own work.

Textile art by Marta Brysha

Marta Brysha – Life’s journey

Do you have a favourite piece of work? What is it and why?

My favourite piece is usually the one I am working on at any given time because I am excited to be exploring new ideas and techniques, and (hopefully) improving on my previous work. I believe my latest works “New World Order” and “The Spoils of Oil” are my strongest to date and the works in which I feel my visual language is really coming into its own. I am also very excited about my evolving series on paper, “The Shapes of Life”, a series inspired by the traditional crafts of peoples across the world, in which I have combined painting with ink and stitching on woven cotton paper.

Textile art by Marta Brysha

Marta Brysha – Spoils of oil (detail)

Where can readers see your work?

I have a website and blog www.martabrysha.com, a Facebook page titled Marta Brysha: Hand Embroidery, Art, Ideas and Inspiration  and a Pinterest site.

The website has a gallery of my work and works can be purchased online. My blog features updates about works in progress, as well as stories about visits to galleries and museums and thoughts and images about what is inspiring me at any given time. Being a visual artist I try to make my blog posts rich in images and succinct in text. The Facebook page allows me to post updates on my work and blog posts, as well as featuring inspiring images and links to the work of other artists I find interesting. On Pinterest I have a board dedicated to my work as well as a ton of gorgeous images gleaned from around the internet.

I will also be exhibiting in Amsterdam at the Window Gallery from 20th-29th October 2014.

Textile art by Marta Brysha

Marta Brysha – New world order (detail)

What else would you like to tell us about your work?

I count my blessings everyday that I am able to go to my beautiful studio and let my creativity take me into the world of imagining. Making art is as fundamental to me as breathing; without it I would be lost and my most ardent hope is that along the way I bring some joy into the lives of those who view my work.

Sandra Champion

Textile art by Sandra Champion

Sandra Champion – Button grass tussocks

Where did your journey begin?

I have worked and experimented with textiles since I was a small child, either knitting, stitching or using my mother’s treadle sewing machine to make all sorts of items. In the 1980s I was a partner in One-Off, a textile design workshop that exhibited widely, both in group and solo exhibitions throughout Australia. More recently, I have explored textile as an art form in quilts as well as 3D pieces.

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer?

My explorations using paper as textile have continued since my experiments with the airmail weight newspaper, The Manchester Guardian, while at Art School. I particularly like using collage to discover ways in which paper can be deconstructed and then add layers of depth and interest with stitch. Currently, I combine paper and hand stitch to create colour, texture and movement in my works.

Textile art by Sandra Champion

Sandra Champion – Button grass tussocks (detail)

What environment do you work in?

Nowadays, I work in a small spare room in my home. In the past I have worked in large studios, but I actually find the small space challenges my work practices, and makes me organise my time and space efficiently.

Who and what has influenced you on this journey?

Sonia Delaunay’s use of colour, texture and paper collage is a constant source of inspiration for me. I also love Rosalie Gascoigne’s use of the found in an era when it was not fashionable for women to be collecting other people’s discards and junk from the local tip. Gascoigne, a late twentieth century Australian artist, collected reflective street signs, old crates, wood, tin, wire and corrugated iron. Anything weathered or worn would be used in her assemblages.

Textile art by Sandra Champion

Sandra Champion – Button grass tussocks

Do you have a favourite piece of work?

Anselm Kiefer’s bookcase made of lead and glass, Sherivath ha Kilim, installed in its own pavilion at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, is my current favourite work because it is ever evolving. Each time I visit there are changes and surprises as the piece continues to deconstruct.

On a personal level, I have been interpreting the Tasmanian Wilderness and its influences in a series I have been working on for the last year. The works are based on the Button Grass Plains of the Cradle Mountain World Heritage Area and the Tarkine in western Tasmania. I have made use of a selected palette to explore and focus on the myriad patterns of the Button Grass and their complexity, built from the simplicity of their form and the endless cycle of the seasons in the harsh Tasmanian landscape. My favourite quilt is the last in this series, as I think it best captures the cycle of life to death and back again.

Textile art by Sandra Champion

Sandra Champion – Tracks through the Button Grass

Where can readers see your work?

My work is held by the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, Australia. I have art quilts in the SAQA “Deux” Exhibitiion which is touring the USA (1913-1914). My work has been featured in Quilting Arts Magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine.

What else would you like to tell us about your work?

I like to use rusted paper in my work with the expectation that each piece will change over time as the more fragile pieces deconstruct and the nature of the piece evolves.

Luna Newby

Textile art by Luna Newby

Luna Newby – Concealed (Frilled and smocked laos silk. Fine copper wire knitting under kangaroo gloving leather. Hand painted blue and gold texture detail. Hand carved and finished huon pine heels)

Where did your journey begin?

My background is in art and design and after working as a graphic designer for a couple of years I felt the need to do something more practical – something that would combine design with function. I think I’ve always had an interest in shoes and shoe shops from the time we used to get our school shoes and had to stand on a big box to have our feet x- rayed to see if the shoes fit!

Later I had some handmade sandals that were made just for me that I lived in and I was fascinated by the whole process from that time. I was hooked.

I trained in footwear design and manufacture in London in the late 70’s at the Cordwainers College in the East End of London. Even when I was at college I was planning to pass on the skills of making leather shoes and thus began a lifelong mission… One of my adult education classes kept going for 13 years in the North of England and became as much a social group as a shoemaking group. I took my mobile weekend workshops throughout the UK and in the USA. I was involved in setting up a co-op in Wales and York as well as various other shoe ventures along the way over the last 32 years. In the UK we had a network of shoemakers from various backgrounds and training with the common aim of support and learning from each other.

Textile art by Luna Newby

Luna Newby – Concealed (Frilled and smocked laos silk. Fine copper wire knitting under kangaroo gloving leather. Hand painted blue and gold texture detail. Hand carved and finished huon pine heels)

What environment do you work in?

I’ve really had some damp and dark studio spaces in my life but when I came to Tasmania from the UK in 2003, I built my beautiful workshop next to my house 20 mins from Hobart. The studio allows me to teach up to 6 people at a time – I run private workshops where people can make a pair of shoes in a weekend and longer courses, one to one intensives which are geared towards individual’s projects. More recently I have been travelling with my work and have run workshops in Brisbane, Geelong, Sydney, Melbourne and Dunedin, NZ.

Fabulous Footwear Exhibitions

For years I’ve been running a regular class in Tasmania and the standard and style of the work and the ideas coming through my “Tuesday group” gave rise to the idea of having an exhibition so that others could appreciate the wonderful and unique work being produced. In early 2006 we decided to have our first exhibition. Most of the footwear in the exhibition is Wearable Art although a few are more sculptural. The Off Centre Gallery in Hobart hosted our first footwear exhibition and was the first of many.

Textile art by Luna Newby

Luna Newby – Bazaar, Recycled silk scraps free machined on to a red velvet base. Machine quilted silk lining.

What is your medium and what techniques do you prefer?

My main material I work with is leather – cow, sheep, goat, with all sorts of different finishes and patterns.

I also like to work with felt and dyeing and printmaking processes, shaping wood for heels, copper knitting, paper and machine embroidery to create the shoes I call art.

Textile art by Luna Newby

Luna Newby – Water (Part of a series based on the five Japanese elements of Fire, Wood, Earth and Metal. The subject inspired by my practice of Shiatsu for many years in the UK. This series was a link from past to present. Aqua silk dupion is pleated using metallic threads and randomly manipulated and pieced with leather. Thin copper sheet concealed inside wavy top line can be manipulated by the wearer to create waves)

Who or what has influenced you on this journey?

This is a slightly unusual occupation and therefore can be a bit isolating which is why I love to teach. It’s hard to find out about shoemaking and other shoemakers. It’s almost a lost art that is totally engrossing and rewarding and provides a medium for people to express themselves, to conceive and design, to use hand skills and all for a very functional purpose. I am inspired by my students and the level of knowledge and skill they bring to the craft as well as the connection I have with other shoemakers worldwide.

I have been influenced by the many artists and craftspeople I felt surrounded by during my childhood growing up in rural Suffolk in the UK during the late 60’s and 70’s. Mainly what I learned from them was a sense of tenacity and dedication to their art practice. I am still influenced by my meditation teacher Sonia Moriceau for the same reasons and the work of Andy Goldsworthy for his dedicated practice of working in nature to create stunning textural, playful, connected pieces that are ultimately transitory and all about the process and moments in time.

Textile art by Luna Newby

Luna Newby – Water (Part of a series based on the five Japanese elements of Fire, Wood, Earth and Metal. The subject inspired by my practice of Shiatsu for many years in the UK. This series was a link from past to present. Aqua silk dupion is pleated using metallic threads and randomly manipulated and pieced with leather. Thin copper sheet concealed inside wavy top line can be manipulated by the wearer to create waves)

What else can you tell us about your work?

My custom work involves making lasted shoes for anyone who wants or needs shoes either for a special occasion or just because… Usually I make shoes for people who for different reasons just can’t find what they need – for example, people who wear orthotics and need the extra depth in their shoes but also want something that looks good and isn’t necessarily black or brown. I also make shoes for people with specific foot problems and work with podiatrists to achieve the right result. I aim to make shoes that will be worn rather than stuffed in the back of the cupboard, ones that will be loved and cherished and are unique to the person they are made for.

To view some of my work you can visit my website www.lunaboots.com

For more information please visit: stitchingandbeyond.com

Interviews by Wendy Koolhof, founding member of Stitching and Beyond.

You can read Part One here and Part Two here. If you’ve enjoyed Part Three why not let us know by leaving a comment below. 

FREE E-BOOK: How my journey into textile art began, a fascinating insight into the work of textile artist Sue Stone
Friday 18th, August 2017 / 21:56
Sam

About the author

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

View all articles by Sam

2 Comments on “Spotlight on Stitching and Beyond – Part Three

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hello and welcome to TextileArtist.org

TextileArtist.org is a place for textile artists and art enthusiasts to be inspired, learn from the best, promote their work and communicate with like-minded creatives.

From the bookshelf

What the artists say

"Textileartist.org is an invaluable resource. I am constantly sending students there and sharing it with other practitioners".

Nigel Cheney
Lecturer in Embroidered Textiles at NCAD

"The beauty of TextileArtist.org is that whenever you visit you'll discover something that you didn't already know".

Rachel Parker
Textile Study Group Graduate of the year 2012

"TextileArtist.org gives contemporary textile practice a voice; leading artists, useful guides and a forum for textiles".

Cas Holmes
Textile Artist and teacher

"This website is exactly what we need in the textiles world. A fantastic inspirational resource".

Carol Naylor
Textile and Embroidery Artist

  Get updates from TextileArtist.org via RSS or Email

Most Viewed

Get our free guide: The Creative Path

  • 20 Top Textile and Fiber Artists Share their Creative Secrets
  • Learn how professional artists beat procrastination, boost their productivity and consistently put their ideas into action with our brand new guide The Creative Path.