resources for the textile arts community
Sewing, needlework and art have always formed a huge part of Karen's life. Karen graduated from the University of Surrey in 1987 with a BA (hons) in Art and English. She went on to study English literature at a higher level, and then to teach English. Since leaving teaching, she has been able to devote all her time to stitching textile art, and has sold her work to collectors in many countries. Currently she works from home in the East Riding of Yorkshire, UK.
I choose textiles as my medium primarily because of the texture of fabric, and because of the rich tradition of cloth and needlework in the lives of women. For me, art is not just about colour and composition. I want to be able to pick up and hold a piece of art as well as to look at it.
I began making large wall-hanging art quilts a few years ago, but more recently have begun to make smaller pieces, which I call art cloths. These are meant to be draped over a chair or table, and to be handled often: to be picked up and held, to be scrutinised for detail; to comfort, and to share the joys and sorrows of life. This has been the function of cloth for thousands of years, and also the function of art.
I like to work intuitively with fabric, using stitch as a means of expression. I stitch entirely by hand, as this is the only way I can feel truly connected with the growing cloth. I believe that cloth retains some sort of molecular memory of its former existence. I think that on some level, cotton remembers being a living plant with the sun on its face, and that wool remembers being part of a living animal. Making these fabrics - and threads - into a stitched textile enables them to live and breathe again. The nature of stitch is, after all, to heal; to mend.
In January 2010 I began a series of work on the theme of memory, and the act of remembering. Our memories make us who we are. If we lose our memory, we lose our history, our identity and our sense of self, and we become lost and disconnected. Cloth can be a keeper of memories, a way of reconnecting with the story of life in which we all play a part. Vintage fabrics have their own memories too.
I started a blog at around the same time, intending the blog to witness the development of my work. It has become increasingly important to me to document my process, and consciously to reflect on and analyse what I do.
I don't know where my stitching life will lead me in the future, but I'm looking forward to following the thread.