Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
I’ve just published the first in a new series of embroidered artworks to my online portfolio at www.spikedennis.com.
The works, entitled Unicorn Dating, take the form of a series of hand embroidered subversive cross stitch samplers. The inspiration for the work originated through by research into the symbolic unicorn, and in particular the medieval tale which tells of how a unicorn can only be captured by a young virgin.
The design of these works draws inspiration from old European samplers as you might be able to tell from the image above. A number of the works have QR codes embroidered into them which provide links to content at www.unicorn-dating.com.
To view the works click here; but please bear in mind that there is a lot of graphic content and strong language contained within these works – you have been warned!
These embroidered photographic interventions are the work of artist Diane Meyer. By selecting a range of embroidery threads that match the colour palette in the photographs she has been able pixelate the images by hand using cross stitch.
The images in this particular series are all photographs of relics from the cold war in Berlin. By obscuring elements of the images the artist prevents them from being seen as snapshots of fixed points in time, instead opening up new possible histories within the images challenging “a futile attempt to make the fleeting memories of life permanent and ingrained“.
The soft thread used to obscure elements within the images provides a striking contrast against the stark concrete elements within the photographs. The stitches also transform the face of these photographs into tactile surfaces reinforcing the fact that these images exist in the present detached from the the distant memory that they might once have represented.
This is a sneak peak at a snippet of one of a new series of embroideries that I’m working on.
The content for the works was generated via the internet and with that in mind I have stitched QR codes (like that pictured above) into the works which link back through to additional online content. This will include videos, images and audio relating to the theme of this work.
I tried stitching the codes at 32 stitches per inch but from my initial tests I realised these were a little small to scan effectively so I’ve enlarged them slightly for the final works. Of course different barcode scanners seem to be better than others when it comes to scanning these cross stitched QR codes. Using my iPhone I’ve found that the Red Laser app seems to be one of the most effective scanners.
Keep an eye out early in the new year for images of a number of the embroideries from this new series.
Following their successful exhibition earlier this year Kalopsia seeks innovative and explorational contemporary textile work in any form. From performance to tangible physical materials or from edible stitch patterns to digital light installations. Kalopsia seeks to push the boundaries of what textiles can be and establishing it’s place firmly in the contemporary art scene.
The works are created using counted stitch processes; primarily cross stitch but also with some blackwork embroidered embellishments too. The work pictured above is hand embroidered with cross stitch on natural linen fabric. whilst I’m using a number of old references in the creation of these new works the content of these embroideries is much more current, providing a contemporary social commentary. You will have to wait until the new year however before I unveil the first of these embroideries.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nina Falk recently following an exhibition with Kalopsia Collective in Edinburgh. We had a good discussion over a cup of tea about many things from unicorns to Christmas films as well as alternative supports for embroidery which led to my discovery that Nina had previously used her own body as a ground for embroidery.
Nina Falk has studied ‘Tailoring and Fashion’ in Stockholm, a BA Hons in ‘Textiles’ at NUA and a MA in ‘Contemporary art Theory’ at ECA. Her work breaks the boundraries between fashion, textiles and art – moving away from the labels that we often are given.
I’ve long talked with friends about the idea of stitching into skin to produce something akin to a temporary tattoo but it seems Nina has beaten me to it. These discussions inevitability arise from those moments when I’ve managed to accidentally slip a needle under the skin at the end of my finger. These moments never hurt, in fact I rarely notice that it has happened until I find that the needle is stuck. However, I found watching Nina embroidering her own body in the video below a much more uncomfortable experience. That said, it is by far one of the most interesting stitched works of art that I have come across for a long while.
I’ve been looking out for an old alphabet cross stitch pattern for a couple of weeks now for some new work but I hadn’t come across anything that suited my needs. Instead I took it upon myself to produce a cross stitch chart from an old English hand embroidered sampler from 1760.
I’ve compiled the alphabets that I’ve translated into cross stitch patterns into a single pdf document that you can download to use for yourself. The pack contains three alphabets – lower-case, upper-case, and small caps. The small sample chart above shows the large upper-case letters.
Feel free to use these alphabets for your own projects. If you do use these alphabets do drop me a line – I’d love to see what you’re using tem for, and if you happen to be uploading some examples of the work you’ve produced using these charts do link back to this post so others can find it.