Notes from the Studio

I’m a creature of habit, partly because of my mental health and partly because I’ve found ways of working that suit my practice and working methods. This week I’ve been looking at my previous pieces from the studio project board and discovering something I already knew, my research and sampling has links with the new pieces I want to create. If this is a formula for my practice, why do I forget this and try to start from zero each time? It will take more than a blog post to work that out so I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on instead.

Lines and maps have been a part of my work since 2013 when I collaborated with Matthew Bellwood and Alison Andrews on 365 Leeds Stories. I also have memories of travelling with my grandparents in a T reg Ford Granada L around the UK for holidays. I would sit in the back behind my grandma, looking through the pages of the atlas, tracing the route we were taking with my fingers and looking at fun place names.

I started to create a map using hand embroidery last week, focusing on the street where I grew up. All my routes are stitched in a vintage red thread purchased from Sue Ryder Vintage in Headingley. I’m not known for using bright colours so this thread really stands out. As I looked through my work from the last six months, I pulled out a pin cushion with the same map stitched onto vintage linen. The pins represent my grandparents and me, our little family living together on Low Street.

My practice has turned back towards hand embroidery this year, something which I have lost since buying my embroidery machine. I’m finding pleasure in using a needle and thread, sitting quietly in my studio with a crappy horror film or murder mystery. The embroidery machine has great qualities but it can be noisy and create a stressful working environment. The great thing about hand stitching is that it’s portable and a much more social activity. I’d forgotten how great it is to stitch with people at a crafty social, eating cake and chatting as we work.

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