Landscape Textile art
Landscapes have long been a source of inspiration for artists, but within the realm of textiles they take on a whole new life. The use of fiber, stitch, print and mixed media techniques opens up a range of possibilities for interpreting texture, light, colour and form.
The recent book Textiles: A Response to Landscape explores the work and worlds of some incredible contemporary artists speaking of this well-trodden subject matter in unique and inventive voices. The featured artists, including Jan Beaney and Shona Skinner, explore in depth why they feel textiles are the perfect medium for interpreting the beauty of the natural world, which landscapes specifically inspire them and the techniques and processes they use to realise their vision.
In this article though let’s be satisfied with scratching the surface by taking a glimpse into the stunning work of 8 artists (a couple of whom you’ll find in Textiles: A Response to Landscape book too) bringing a contemporary voice to a traditional medium and subject matter.
Fiona Robertson originally trained in fine art and this influence is evident in her work as a textile artist. Working with embroidery to create intricate landscapes has altered her way of looking at the world; Fiona’s surroundings have become a series of rhythms, line, colour, pattern and texture. This obsession dominates her work. The versatility of nature as a subject is a constant source of inspiration; the striking contrast of a landscape that has been muted by rain and that which has been sharpened by the light of the sun provides endless possibilities for exploration. Each piece is built from hand-dyed silk, cotton scrim and a combination of other diverse fibres. The basis for Fiona’s work is machine stitched, before detail is added by hand.
Award winning contemporary textile artist Heather Collins finds inspiration in both landscapes and seascapes for her sculptural art. Her aim is to reflect the incredible diversity of nature. A single thread or a miniscule fragment of distressed fabric are often the starting point for Heather’s work. She then builds up layers using free-embroidery and embellishes with traditional hand stitching; the finished sculptures vary in size depending on what feels right as the piece takes shape.
Specialising in machine embroidery, Carol Naylor stitches directly onto painter’s canvas using a combination of cotton, woolen, rayon and metallic threads depending on the specific subject and desired outcome. She creates one-ff textiles that range from intimate studies to expansive wall hangings. Carol says of her work that it ‘is about the exploration of surface and mark making. The surface of the fabric that I stitch onto is manipulated and changed by the techniques I employ, and the surface of the land provides me with visual stimuli that I seek not to emulate, but to investigate’.
An in-depth exploration of Carol’s work inspired by the natural world is featured in our ebook Textiles: A Response to Landscape.
Quilter and textile artist Jette Clover creates ‘urban landscapes’ and is influenced by the energy of the city, its worn textures and faded colors. Of particular interest are crumbling stones, weathered wood, peeling paint and rusted hinges. Above all the faded signs, torn posters and sprawling graffiti found on the walls of many great cities provide inspiration for Jette’s colourful and striking creations. The series Letter Landscapes is formed of large scale art quilts incorporating fragments of paper posters. Jette’s previous life as a journalist is evident in her artwork, which often makes use of bold lettering.
Heather Dubreuil also uses cityscapes in her work in an attempt to show the radiant transformation of an everyday exterior through the expressive potential of colour. By carefully considering form and composition, Heather creates drawings in stitch on a background of hand-dyed cotton. Other work grows from a collage of hand-dyed cotton shapes and is added to with stitching for definition. Pieces are often enriched with further detail from ink or paint.
Kim Marguerite LaPolla
Kim Marguerite LaPolla of Crazy by Design aims to encapsulate nuance and duality in her stitched, layered, and embellished fiber art. She seeks out elements of design in nature, everyday objects and landscapes and looks to interpret these well-worn subjects by using surprising patterns, colours and techniques.
Kim is currently working on a new landscape series focusing on farm fields inspired by the area in which she lives in upstate New York.
Caroline Dunn hails from the Yorkshire Dales, an area that provides constant inspiration in the form of its wonderful landscapes, bird life and architecture. Caroline uses mixed media techniques and machine embroidery to create artwork that reflects her love of the landscape and the nature that presides there. Her materials include natural fabrics used as backgrounds, which she then paints and dyes before embellishing with applique and embroidery (both machine and hand stitch).
Laura Breitman is primarily interested in how light interacts with form. She uses thousands of pieces of fabric within each of her works, which are often a tribute to nature and landscapes. Her attention to detail is apparent in her exquisitely intricate pieces, with which she captures the imagination of the viewer by inspiring an almost meditative experience.
Laura’s collage technique has been widely recognized and awarded over the years and her work appears in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and abroad.
More textile artists inspired by landscapes
If you want to dig deeper into how contemporary fiber artists use landscape as a starting point for their work, you might enjoy our ebook Textiles: A Response to Landscape.
In compiling the book, we sought to highlight the vast range of opportunities textiles offer as a means of interpretation by exploring the stories, influences and techniques of 10 incredible contemporary artists, each with their own unique visual identity. There’s also a wide selection of beautiful images of their work.