Textile artists inspired by nature
One of the things that fascinates me about many of the textile artists we’ve interviewed is their ability to find inspiration in the seemingly mundane or unremarkable aspects of life, yet create something beautiful, fresh and unique. Nature is certainly not a mundane subject matter but it is definitely well-trodden ground in the world of art. Fascination with forest, seas, wildlife and the sky doesn’t seem to ebb.
The textile artists inspired by nature featured here (all very different in approach and style) show why the natural world and all its gifts to mankind have endured as source material; there is no limit to the possibilities of how nature can be harnessed to create original, breathtaking textile art.
By the way you can go deeper into the story of Lesley Richmond (the first artist featured in this article), as well as dig deeper into the processes and techniques she uses in Textile Art Inspired by Nature. The ebook (which retails at just £3.99) is a tribute to the work and worlds of 10 incredible artists bringing a new and resounding voice to the medium and speaking of the natural world in original and surprising visual voices.
English textile artist Lesley Richmond is not only a creator but a teacher as well. Lesley is one of the most widely-represented textile artists around the world. Born in Cornwall, she is now a resident of Vancouver, Canada. Her works have been on display in several countries around the world, including Poland, China and Korea as well as the U.S. and Canada. Her work has also been featured in numerous books on the subject of textile art, including Textiles: The Art of Mankind and Art Textiles of the World – Canada.
Lesley’s main inspiration since the beginning of her career has been natural forms. Her mantra is to create pieces that appear organic regardless of the material that has been used. In particular, she is inspired by trees and forests. Two of her most popular series are in fact named Leaf and Distant Forest. Her current series is entitled Tree/Forest. For each of these series, Lesley harnessed her photography skills, snapping pictures of trees and forests. She then printed them, in relief, on a mix of fibers, before eliminating the background.
As a result, the pieces she creates appear visually appealing and incredibly detailed.
For Wendy Moyer, textile art is a means of answering questions regarding the altered state of nature. Her mission statement is bold, her aim being to make nature reside in an urban milieu. Each piece she works on is representative of her unique ideology. Rather than simply deriving inspiration from nature, Wendy is trying her utmost to get other people to appreciate it as well.
Like many textile artists, she too started off by creating fabrics that were purely for practical use instead of being based on the way she perceives nature. It is only in the past few years that she has changed her approach and become more liberal and creative with her art. It seems natural that Wendy decided to work with fabrics, given that her family has a long tradition of sewing. Yet, no one would have predicted she would go on to become one of the leading nature inspired textile artists of her generation.
Healy & Burke
Textile art inspired by nature as a medium offers great scope for collaboration and drawing inspiration from the work of others. Siobhan Healy and Mairead Burke are both Irish artists and for the past several years they been working together to create textile art that astounds viewers. Their practice is fairly unique; when working on a new piece together, they harness their individual skills in a very efficient and effective way. Siobhan focuses more on finalizing the design and inspiration, while Mairead takes care of the colors and materials to be used.
Another unusual (though not unique) aspect of their work as textile artists is that the duo works to order, creating custom pieces for their clients on commission. Their focus is on producing top quality felted pieces. Through their tried and tested methods they have built a loyal following and an impressive body of work.
North California native Velda Newman has been working in the industry for nearly two decades now. She makes quilts, deriving her inspiration from nature and coming up with breathtaking organic designs. Her popularity in this field has led her to being considered a leading expert on textile arts. She has written a number of books on the craft and regularly leads classes and gives lectures, imparting her gift and knowledge to students and artists looking to expand their skills.
Velda’s work has been featured in several galleries around the globe and has been featured in a number of international publications. Her main emphasis is on making quilts, for which the designs are based on what is found in the natural world. Flowers have long been a favourite subject, but she has also used animals, insects, and plants for her creations. Velda is not in anyway limited by her passion for nature. In fact one of her first designs, Freedom is Fragile, made back in 1986 featured the Statue of Liberty.
Heather Collins is an English textile artist, hailing from the coast of Sussex. The picturesque location of her hometown has fueled her interest in nature, and she uses the local surroundings to create pieces that are spectacularly beautiful. A remarkable feature of Heather’s work over the years has been the use of size to depict her influence. She often creates extremely small pieces but is equally open to going completely the other way; making gigantic textile art!
A distinct part of her craft has been her insistence on stitching all her pieces by hand. Though this takes time, it allows her to put her unique personal stamp on each piece she makes. If you want to know more about the landscape and seascape of the Sussex coastline, Heather’s textile art is a good place to start.
More textile artists inspired by nature
In the book Textile Art Inspired by Nature, we celebrate the work and worlds of 10 artists speaking of this well-trodden subject matter in new and resounding voices. Each chapter delves into a different artist’s take on nature and the techniques and processes they use to bring their concepts to life. The array of beautiful images of their work prove that there really is no limit to the possibilities of how nature can be harnessed to create original, breathtaking art and how textiles seem to be the perfect medium to capture the rhythms and textures of the natural world.