I am passionate about textiles to create texture and surprise through form, stitch and colour. My creative practice focuses on the ideas of thriftiness, using I am passionate about textiles to create texture and surprise through form, stitch and colour. My creative practice focuses on finding stories in history to inspire. Working with documents of the time and extensive research supports much of my textile exploration. I often reference traditional and historical techniques from the domestic setting; preferring the techniques that arose in the home to those that were practised in high society or courts.
I work with a range of textile processes including stitch, embellishment and fabric manipulation. Currently my artwork often uses clusters as the form to provide a showcase for the stitch or technique. On a form, the stitch can be seen in all its glory and I use these traditional stitches in an experimental and often humorous way.
Many Hands Make Light Work, 2020-1
These clusters use textiles found in the kitchen, making something beautiful from items that are not normally considered for their aesthetic value. I enjoy the reaction to my work – sometimes a smile, more often peering at them with faint distaste as the stitches remind them of something unsanitary or mildly off-putting.
The glorification of the domestic textile and the home-setting seems particularly relevant now, as we live through the pandemic.
Sampler on ticking, 2020
I am influenced by the UK’s rich history of samplers, in particular those from the 19th century. A sampler is a practical way of practising stitch but with research, I discovered that samplers portrayed two different worlds: depending on your class, a sampler was a way to pass the time in a genteel manner and to demonstrate your technical prowess; or for others to demonstrate a skill to gain employment in domestic service. For both classes, a sampler was a tangible record of the techniques they had learned and could be referred to for future use.
Embroidery, silk and cotton threads on mattress ticking
Flour bag, 2020
In the Great Depression women repurposed flour bags to make clothing or household items. This cluster is made from an old flour bag that had already been repurposed to clothing. I referenced an original 1930s embroidery transfer and applied traditional floral decoration to the cluster.
Embroidery, silk and cotton threads on cotton flour bag. (Origin of flour bag – Grenada)
This cluster explores the idea of thriftiness. It is made from a piece of thermal underwear stuffed with recycled upholstery stuffing. All materials used were stash scraps and threads and donations from friends.
Techniques used: random weave; random weave with paper yarn; smocking; darning; drizzle stitch; and the gingham embellishment uses a stitch known as “Chicken Scratch”, a hand stitch made popular in the Great Depression – a simple and inexpensive, yet effective, way to decorate gingham.
Rachel is a member of the Society for Embroidered Work and is keen to promote the message that Stitched Art is Art.
Exhibitions and Collaborations
Surface and Depth – The Society for Embroidered Work exhibition for Rome Art Week 2021, Palazzo Velli Expo, Rome, October 2021
textiles2020: the show. Espacio Gallery, London, December 2020
Sewn Antidote, 2020. Contributed to a collaborative textile artwork on reflections to the first lockdown of the COVID pandemic. Accepted as part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s textile collection
In Transition, Group Show, CityLit, February-March 2020
Construction Sites, Group Show, CityLit, July 2019