Anne Kelly: Portraits in Textile Art
Her multi layered and densely embroidered works developed through her teaching, as did her collaborative work and writing. She is co-author of ‘Connected Cloth’ (Batsford 2013) and author of ‘Textile Nature’ (2016), ‘Textile Folk Art’ (2018) and ‘Textile Travels’, which is due out in 2020. Anne is currently towards a major solo exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre in 2021.
In this article, part of our creative development series, she tackles a subject that is relatively new in her practice, exploring the inspiration gained from looking at textile artists who use portraits in their work. She describes the development of an autobiographical series of embroidered hangings to be exhibited in France at the ‘Quilt Expo en Beaujolais’ in 2016.
Portraiture as a Theme
Anne Kelly: Portraiture must be one of the most difficult themes to explore in textile art. I teach figure drawing as part of my art and design teaching and have always used it in sketchbook work. I am interested in examining at the ways in which contemporary textile artists handle this challenging theme in their work.
I have been looking at how using the human figure can convey meaning and expression. It has been a new departure for me and I’ve been keen to incorporate the figures into the stitched and layered collage work that I make, without it feeling inauthentic. My pieces relate to the natural world and adding portraits makes that connection more meaningful…
I like to sketch my family, when at home or on holiday. These sketchbook portraits were done in France many years ago and capture my children’s expressions.
I started with a series of work using my sketches with quite busy and heavily built up backgrounds for a base. These pieces are a continuation of my ‘Aprons’ series, which were exhibited at the international Festival of Threads exhibition in Canada, a year ago, and at the Prague Patchwork meeting in April this year.
After drawing the image onto the textile base, I used a combination of hand and machine stitching to outline the main shapes and delineate the features of the faces. I wanted the faces to stand out without detracting from the background.
This is a close-up of one of my ‘family’ series and shows the layers of fabric and stitch under the collaged work.
Sue creates muted yet powerful imagery using layers of fabric and stitch. Her choice of subtle and muted colours creates a vintage feel whilst at the same time capturing expression and emotion. She says ‘(my) mixed media compositions allude to the passing of time by merging images from the past with those from the present.’ She is currently working on a large piece to be exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in 2016.
It is intriguing to see the way that Sue uses different layers of hessian to create hair and then stitches over it.
Sue’s use of subtle colours is shown here.
For more information visit: www.womanwithafish.com
Louise is known for her rich and beautifully embellished work, where she stitches heads over colourful layers of fabric. Her drawings of faces are simplified but lose nothing in character or impact. Louise says ‘I am interested in how we absorb knowledge and life’s experiences; selecting out the bits that resonate for us, sometimes carefully, other times by accident. It’s what makes us who we are.’
Louise’s use of background fabric is carefully thought out to enhance her drawings over the top.
Beautiful imagery and shapes coincide to make a rich textile.
For more information visit: www.62group.org.uk
Rosie is known for her unique approach to figure drawing in stitch and her work has to be seen ‘in the flesh’ to appreciate its textural qualities and scale. Her techniques are featured in her book. Rosie says ‘I like to draw, I particularly like to draw with a needle but I’m not averse to a pencil.’ She leads workshops using a variety of themes and inspirations.
Rosie’s works capture the freshness of her drawings and have a real presence as a result.
A more ‘fancilful’ drawing and lovely use of deliberately uncut threads
Cathy is a mixed – media artist who paints and creates richly embroidered pieces. Her small and intricate works are reminiscent of miniatures from centuries past. She says ‘I have developed my own style of embroidery over the past several years. Using a sewing machine as a drawing tool, I create intricate, small-scale portraits.’
Cathy’s dense stitching creates tone and adds character to her work.
For more information visit: www.cathycullis.blogspot.co.uk
Tilleke is not known primarily for her portrait work, but she manages to squeeze beautifully rendered imagery into her amazingly complex compositions. She says ‘All my work relates basically to one theme: the oddities of life. I include anything that moves, amazes or intrigues me. Daily life, mass media, traditional samplers and cats are major sources of inspiration’.
Tilleke’s drawings of heads here is enhanced by her use of different colours of embroidery cotton – very effective and striking.
A striking juxtaposition of words and images
For more information visit: www.tillekeschwarz.com
I’ve been preparing some work for an invited exhibition in France in April 2016.
I wanted to produce an autobiographical series based on my childhood in Canada and was trying to find links between my native province of Quebec and France.
Working from a photograph, I drew the outline of the picture on linen union, then went over it with free motion embroidery. I then painted it with casein tempera paints, which are lovely and work well on linen and canvas, as well as heavy weight calico.
After the portrait was dry, I stitched it into a background of collaged vintage fabric, and then overstitched the portrait to make it stand out against the background. I was working from a photograph and used casein tempera paints on linen.
Anne is listed on the Crafts Council Directory http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/directory/maker/anne-kelly-textiles/
Her weblinks are:
www.annekellytextiles.com archive website
www.annekellyartist.net mobile site
She also has Twitter and Pinterest accounts – search for Anne Kelly Textiles
Let us know what you think about our creative development series so far by leaving a comment below.