Sarah Davidson: Textiles and illustration
Sarah Davidson has a background in illustration, which plays a prevalent role in the creation of her distinctive style of textile art. Her work fuses modernism and nostalgia to great effect. Having graduated with First Class Honours from Cleveland College of Art and Design, Sarah has formed the brand Linear Outline, under which she develops collections of work.
Here she talks about the importance of her training and her fresh approach to traditional techniques.
Inspiration and influences
TextileArtist.org: What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
Sarah Davidson: I studied BTEC Design Crafts at Cleveland College of Art and Design, Middlesbrough, there I was able to have the freedom to play and explore with so many new materials, whilst been encouraged to work within a very mixed media style. I worked with paper, textiles, jewellery and ceramics, and any other found objects which we could get our hands on. I always wanted to steer myself away from the typical style within the class, which consisted of using maps, coffee stained pages and chunky black fineliners, I pushed my way of working and developed a style of my own.
I then went onto education at degree level at the Cleveland College Of Art and Design Hartlepool campus, and completed a three year BA HONS Applied Arts course which eventually led me to graduate with First Class Honours. Despite working in the areas of jewellery, ceramics and textiles, my love and passion always belonged to textiles and illustration, and that’s where the combination of the two began within my FMP project.
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
My mediums are made up of the relationship between textiles and illustration, I heavily use the techniques of hand embroidery, stitch weaving and mono print within my work. Within my current collection, I am working with the technique of collage alongside my signature techniques.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
My approach to starting any project always begins with gathering all sources of inspiration and influences, I then begin doodling, adding elements along the way, before eventually layering all pieces digitally before completing the pieces with embellishment. This then allows me to build up a multiple surfaces which reflects on different textures.
I am currently working within a tiny creative space at home, but I ideally really need a bigger space, as I make too much mess!
A fresh new approach
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
I think my work has a naïve and playful element to it despite whatever colour pallets, style or themes I work in, it’s a style which will always stay with me regardless of what little changes I make, I’m hoping it matures with time and work.
Despite using traditional technique methods, I try to use them with a fresh new approach, pushing the method of weaving but in a hand embroidery setting, working closely with the medium of paper instead of standard fabrics.
Do you use a sketchbook?
YES, I sometimes prefer my quick doodles that are home within my sketch book, compared to the actual finished final piece itself! A part of me will always have love for sketch books as we were encouraged so much at college and university to use them wisely, using them as a creative diary for all important ideas and inspirational resources. I still use one to this day, and have kept all my past ones to date.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
I’m currently really inspired by abandoned ghost buildings; I recently used this as a theme for one of my projects whilst creating an oversized collage, which was manipulated using the methods of hand embroidery and mono print. I worked closely with these techniques to recreate the elements of the rust and peeling paint within the ghost buildings themselves.
I’m also inspired by urban decay, order and arrangements, art deco, and birds in flight.
The artists who I am currently inspired and influenced by are: Miguel Leal, Ernesto Artillo, Aris Moore, Julie Cockburn and Ellen Gallagher. All of which work with the elements of the face, capturing and promoting a uniqueness of facial features, manipulating them through the techniques of collage as well as digitally.
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
I really enjoyed creating all the pieces which are within my ‘Movimiento’ collection, as it gave me the chance to work closely with past family members portraits, furnishing into them with diverse hand embroidery methods which gave a spark of life back into the snapshot.
Can you recommend some books for textile artists?
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